General International Standard Bibliographic Description

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ISBD(G): General International Standard Bibliographic Description

Annotated Text

Revised Edition


UBCIM Publications - New Series Vol 6



0.1 Scope, purpose and use

0.1.1 Scope

    The General International Standard Bibliographic Description - referred to hereafter as the ISBD(G) - lists all the elements which are required to describe and identify all types of material which are likely to appear in library collections, assigns an order to the elements of description, and specifies a system of punctuation for the description.

    The ISBD(G) forms the basis of the specialized ISBDs which have been or are being prepared for special categories of materials. It forms the basis for future revision of existing ISBD texts. It is also anticipated that national or international committees responsible for preparing codes of cataloguing rules will use the ISBD(G) as the basis for their rules on description of library materials, either through the use of specialized ISBDs or directly in the case of materials not covered by ISBDs. The ISBD(G) is not intended to be used by a cataloguer in a library or national bibliographic agency directly to describe any item.

    The ISBD(G) is concerned with the way in which items are described first in bibliographic records produced by national bibliographic agencies (in issues of the printed national bibliography, in other printed records, and in associated machine-readable data files), and second in bibliographic records of other cataloguing agencies, whether in computer-readable or printed form. (In the case of bibliographic data stored in a computer-readable medium, the ISBDs prescribe display conventions for eye-readable output, such as online displays or printed products, rather than the data structure used within the computer-readable medium itself.)

0.1.2 Purpose

    The primary purpose of the ISBDs is to provide the stipulations for compatible descriptive cataloguing worldwide in order to aid the international exchange of bibliographic records between national bibliographic agencies and throughout the international library and information community. By specifying the elements which comprise a bibliographic description and by prescribing the order in which those elements should be presented and the punctuation by which they should be demarcated, the ISBDs aim to (A) make records from different sources interchangeable, so that records produced in one country can be easily accepted in library catalogues or other bibliographic lists in any other country; (B) assist in the interpretation of records across language barriers, so that records produced for users of one language can be interpreted by users of other languages; and (C) assist in the conversion of bibliographic records to machine-readable form.

0.1.3 Use

    The ISBDs provide stipulations to cover the maximum amount of descriptive information required in a range of different bibliographic activities, and therefore include elements which are essential to one or more of those activities but not necessarily to all.

    It is recommended that the national bibliographic agency in each country, in accepting the responsibility of creating the definitive record for each item issued in that country, prepare the definitive description containing all the mandatory elements set out in the relevant ISBD insofar as the information is applicable to the item being described.

    Other cataloguing organizations have a wider choice as they are not providing the definitive record for international exchange. They can select ISBD elements for inclusion in their own records, provided that the elements selected are given in the prescribed order and transcribed with the prescribed punctuation according to the relevant ISBD.

    The ISBD description forms a part of a complete bibliographic record and is not normally used by itself. The other factors which make up a complete bibliographic record, such as headings, subject information, uniform titles, filing devices and tracings, are not included in the ISBD stipulations. The rules for such factors are normally given in cataloguing codes.

0.2 Definitions

    The term "item" used in this text means a document, group of documents, or part of a document, in any physical form, considered as an entity and forming the basis of a single bibliographic description.

    In the ISBD(G) definitions for other terms used in a special sense, or in one of several senses in general use, are included at the beginning of the annotation for the appropriate area or element. Terms used in the usual bibliographic sense are not defined.

0.3 Outline of the ISBD(G)

    Area Prescribed preceding
    (or enclosing) punctuation for elements
    Note: Each area, other than the first, is preceded by a point, space, dash, space (. - ).
    1. Title and statement of responsibility area
    1.1 Title proper
    [ ] 1.2 General material designation
    = 1.3 Parallel title
    : 1.4 Other title information
    1.5 Statements of responsibility
    / First statement
    ; Subsequent statement
    1. Edition area
    2.1 Edition statement
    = 2.2 Parallel edition statement
    2.3 Statements of responsibility relating to the edition
    / First statement
    ; Subsequent statement
    , 2.4 Additional edition statement
    2.5 Statements of responsibility following an additional edition statement
    / First statement
    ; Subsequent statement
    1. Material (or type
      of publication) specific area
    1. Publication, distribution,
      etc., area
    4.1 Place of publication, distribution, etc.
    First place
    ; Subsequent place
    : 4.2 Name of publisher, distributor, etc.
    [ ] 4.3 Statement of function of distributor
    , 4.4 Date of publication, distribution, etc.
    ( 4.5 Place of manufacture
    : 4.6 Name of manufacturer
    ,) 4.7 Date of manufacture
    1. Physical description area
    5.1 Specific material designation and extent of item
    : 5.2 Other physical details
    ; 5.3 Dimensions of item
    + 5.4 Accompanying material statement
    1. Series area
    6.1 Title proper of series or sub-series
    = 6.2 Parallel title of series or sub-series
    Note: A series statement is
    enclosed by parentheses.
    When there are two or more
    series atatements, each is
    enclosed by parentheses.
    : 6.3 Other title information of series or sub-series
    6.4 Statements of responsibility relating to the series or subseries
    / First statement
    ; Subsequent statement
    , 6.5 International Standard Serial Number of series or sub-series
    ; 6.6 Numbering within series or sub-series
    1. Note area
    1. Standard number
      (or alternative and terms of availability)
    8.1 Standard number (or alternative)
    = 8.2 Key title
    : 8.3 Terms of availability and/or price
    ( ) 8.4 Qualification (in varying positions)

    General notes on the outline of ISBD(G)

    1. In the above outline, the terms "first statement ...", "subsequent statement ...", and the like, denote the order in which these statements are given in the description and have no other connotation.

    2. In the above outline no indication is given of which areas or elements may be repeated or may be considered optional. The specialized ISBDs give detailed guidance on these matters.

    3. Wherever information ordinarily associated with one area or element appears in the item linked linguistically as an integral part of another area or element, it is transcribed as such.

0.4 Punctuation

Each element of the description, except the first element of area 1, is either preceded or enclosed by prescribed punctuation. (See 0.4.3 for other exceptions.) Prescribed punctuation is preceded and followed by a space (a single space on a typewriter or an em space in printing) with the exception of the comma (, ) and point (. ), which are only followed by a space. The inclusion of other punctuation is at the discretion of the national bibliographic agency or cataloguing organization, as is the spacing before and after such punctuation. ISBD punctuation is retained even when this results in double punctuation (but see 0.4.7). For the punctuation of scripts written from right to left, see 0.4.11. In certain cases, the specialized ISBDs may prescribe punctuation in addition to the prescribed punctuation in the ISBD(G).

Parentheses, i.e. curved brackets ( ( ) ) and square brackets ( [ ] ) (see 0.4.8) are each to be treated as a single punctuation symbol, and the preceding space comes before the first (opening) parenthesis or square bracket and the following space comes after the second (closing) parenthesis or square bracket (but see 0.10). If parentheses or square brackets are preceded or followed by prescribed punctuation that ends or begins with a space, only one space is given.

Each area of the ISBD(G) other than area 1 is preceded by a point, space, dash, space (. - ), unless that area is clearly separated from the preceding area by paragraphing, typography or indentation, in which case the point, space, dash, space may be omitted or replaced by a point (.) given at the end of the preceding area.

When the first element of an area is not present in a description, the preceding punctuation of the first element that is present is replaced by a point, space, dash, space (. - ) preceding the area.

When an area is repeated, each repetition is preceded by a point, space, dash, space (. - ) except (a) in the condition described in 0.4.3, and (b) as provided by area 6 for multiple series statements.

When an element is repeated, each repetition is preceded by the prescribed punctuation appropriate to the element.

When an element ends with a point and the prescribed punctuation for the element which follows begins with a point, only one of the two points is given. (When exact punctuation is being recorded, see the ISBD (A).)

      e.g. 3rd ed. -
      not 3rd ed.. -
      And then ... - 4th ed.
      not And then .... - 4th ed.

Three punctuation symbols can be used in all or most areas:

  1. Square brackets ( [ ] ) are prescribed punctuation to enclose particular elements in area 1 (see 1.2) and area 4 (see 4.3) and are prescribed punctuation within an element in area 5 (see 5.1). Square brackets also enclose information found outside the prescribed sources of information (see 0.5) and interpolations in the description (see 0.6, 0.7.2, 0.10, 0.11).

    When successive elements within the same area are obtained from outside the prescribed source, they are enclosed in a single pair of square brackets unless one element is the general material designation, which is always enclosed in its own pair of square brackets. When successive elements are in different areas, each element is enclosed in a separate pair of square brackets.

  2. Marks of omission, i.e., three points ( ... ), indicate the omission of some part of an element (see 0.7.1, 0.7.2).

  3. Parentheses ( ( ) ) are prescribed punctuation to enclose each series statement in area 6, to enclose certain elements in area 4, and to enclose information within particular elements in areas 5 and 8.

When in an area or an element the same information appears in two or more languages and/or scripts, the following provisions apply:

When one element is recorded in two or more languages and/or scripts, the information in each language and/or script after the first is preceded by a space, equals sign, space ( = ).

When, in a single area, two or more elements are recorded in two or more languages and/or scripts, the elements in each language and/or script are given together with the appropriate preceding punctuation for each element. The whole group of elements for the first language and/or script recorded is preceded by punctuation appropriate to the first element and each group after the first is preceded by a space, equals sign, space ( = ).

An area or element that does not apply to the item is not included in the description. The preceding or enclosing prescribed punctuation of such an area or element is also omitted.

When information is given in scripts written from right to left, commas and semi-colons used as prescribed punctuation are reversed when that is the style of the script. Similarly, the point, space, dash, space combination of prescribed punctuation reads from right to left and the meanings of open and closed parentheses and square brackets are reversed. The diagonal slash and groups of western arabic numerals which are not reversed in such scripts are not reversed when given.

See Appendix B for the treatment of information given both in scripts written from left to right and in scripts written from right to left.

0.5 Sources of information

    In making a description, information found on the item itself normally is preferred to information found elsewhere. Details of the preferred sources of information and of the prescribed sources of information for each type of material are set out in the specialized ISBDs.

0.6 Language and script of the description

    Elements in areas 1, 2, 4 and 6 are normally transcribed from the item and are, therefore, wherever practicable, in the language(s) and/or script(s) in which they appear there. Interpolations in these areas are enclosed in square brackets and are given in the language and/or script of the context of that part of the description, except:

    • prescribed abbreviations (see 0.7) and prescribed interpolations (see 0.10, 0.11);

    • general material designation (see 1.2) and statement of function of distributor (see 4.3) which, when supplied, are given in the language and/or script chosen by the national bibliographic agency.

    Language(s) and/or script(s) used in area 3 are specified in the specialized ISBDs.

    Terms used in areas 5, 7 and 8 are not enclosed in square brackets and are given in the language and/or script chosen by the national bibliographic agency, except:

    • when cited titles are provided in area 7;

    • when quotations are provided in area 7;

    • when key title is given in area 8.

    The description of items appearing in scripts other than that used by the national bibliographic agency may, if necessary, be transliterated or transcribed without brackets into the script used by the agency.

0.7 Abridgements and abbreviations

In exceptional cases the abridgement of certain elements in the description is permitted (e.g. a lengthy title proper). In such cases, the omission is indicated by marks of omission.

Certain abbreviations are prescribed in specific stipulations (e.g. 0.10, 1.5, 4.1, 4.2). Additional abbreviations are prescribed in the specialized ISBDs.

In various stipulations in the ISBDs, provision is made for the use of "standard abbreviations" (e.g. 2.1) without specifying the forms of the abbreviations to be followed. These abbreviations are not prescribed but it is recommended that ISO 832-1975, Documentation - Bibliographic References - Abbreviations of Typical Words, or similar national standards, be used.

The abbreviations used throughout the ISBD(G) in the examples, other than those prescribed above in 0.7.3, are illustrative and not prescriptive.

Except for specifically prescribed or permitted abridgements and abbreviations, the transcription of data in area 1, 2 and 6 does not show abbreviations unless they appear in the source.

0.8 Capitalization

    Generally, the first letter of each area should be a capitalized. The first word of the following elements should also be a capitalized: general material designation, parallel title, alternative title, and section title. Other capitalization should follow the appropriate usage for the language(s) or script(s) used in the description (see 0.6).

0.9 Examples

    The examples given throughout the ISBD(G) are illustrative, and not prescriptive.

    In the English text of the ISBD(G), the terms used and the words or short phrases added in areas 5, 7, and 8 are in English. It is anticipated that in translations of the ISBD(G), such terms and words and phrases will be given in the language of the translation.

0.10 Misprints

    Inaccuracies or misspelled words are transcribed as they appear in the item. They may be followed by "sic" or "!", enclosed in square brackets ([sic] or [!]). Alternatively, the correct version may be added, enclosed in square brackets, the correction being preceded by "i.e." (id est), or its equivalent in another language and/or script. Letters or numbers which have been omitted from misspelled words or dates may be inserted, enclosed in square brackets (in this case not preceded or followed by a space).

0.11 Symbols, etc.

    A symbol or other matter that cannot be reproduced by the typographic facilities available (normally, characters that are neither numeric nor alphabetic) is replaced by its description or its equivalency in letters or words, as appropriate. The substitution is placed in square brackets and an explanatory note is made if necessary.

    e.g. / by [E.B.C.]
    Note: Author's initial represented on title-page by musical notes

Latest Revision: October 14, 2000 Copyright © 1995-1999
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

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