Abstract Unsymmetric Schiff base complexes have attracted more attention in recent years due to their diverse effects in catalytic reactions. Due to their high dissymmetry, unsymmetric metallosalen complexes are harder to prepare than symmetric ones. This means that X-ray crystallographic structural determination is sometimes unavailable, so their absolute configurations are determined by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy instead. Herein, some quadridentate unsymmetric metallosalen nickel(II) complexes were synthesized and their structures were characterized by CD spectra. An empirical rule for assignment of the absolute configurations of tetra-coordinated pseudo-planar Ni(II) complexes was put forward. Furthermore, a fingerprint was found to judge whether the metallosalen complexes are symmetric or unsymmetric.