In the wide realm of applications of quantum electrodynamics, a non-covariant formulation of theory is particularly well suited to describing the interactions of light with molecular matter. The robust framework upon which this formulation is built, fully accounting for the intrinsically quantum nature of both light and the molecular states, enables powerful symmetry principles to be applied. With their origins in the fundamental transformation properties of the electromagnetic field, the application of these principles can readily resolve issues concerning the validity of mechanisms, as well as facilitate the identification of conditions for widely ranging forms of linear and nonlinear optics. Considerations of temporal, structural, and tensorial symmetry offer significant additional advantages in correctly registering chiral forms of interaction. More generally, the implementation of symmetry principles can considerably simplify analysis by reducing the number of independent quantities necessary to relate to experimental results to a minimum. In this account, a variety of such principles are drawn out with reference to applications, including recent advances. Connections are established with parity, duality, angular momentum, continuity equations, conservation laws, chirality, and spectroscopic selection rules. Particular attention is paid to the optical interactions of molecules as they are commonly studied, in fluids and randomly organised media.
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