Marc 21 Tutorial
Table of Contents: Introduction Let's Get Started! What does MARC mean? MARC21 Terms Rules and Structures Glossary


Access point A name, term, code, etc., under which a bibliographic record may be searched and identified.

Added entry An entry, additional to the main entry, by which an item is represented in a catalog; a secondary entry. See also Main entry.

Appendix Follows the text of a book and contains notes, charts, tables, lists, or other detailed information discussed in the text.

Area A major section of the bibliographic description, comprising data of a particular category or set of categories. See also Element.

Bibliographic record The description of a discrete item, such as a book, a videorecording, or a serial. Machine-readable forms of bibliographic records are stored in and retrieved from automated online catalogs, either locally or nationally via the Internet, or magnetic tape provided by a vendor.

Bibliography Lists sources used by the author in creating a work such as a book. Also lists additional sources on important subjects covered in the text.

Catalog 1. A list of library materials contained in a collection, a library, or a group of libraries, arranged according to some definite plan. Access to the list may be provided in a catalog book, a traditional card file, on microform, or online, electronically. 2. In a wider sense, a list of materials (prepared for a particular purpose (e.g., an exhibition catalog, a sales catalog).

Chapters Separate parts of the text of a book.

Chief source of information The source of bibliographic data to be given preference as the source from which a bibliographic description (or portion thereof) is prepared. Example of the chief source are the title page of a book, the title screen of a video, or the title screen from a computer software product.

Collective title A title proper that is an inclusive title for an item containing several individual works, such as essays or poems. “The collected works...” is a good example of a collective title.

Colophon A statement at the back or end of an item giving information about one or more of the following: the title, author(s), publisher, printer, date of publication or printing. It may include other information.

Compiler 1. One who creates or produces a collection by selecting and putting together matter from the works of various persons or bodies. 2. One who selects and puts together in one publication matter from the works of one person or body. See also Editor.

Content designator A code (such as a tag, indicator, or subfield) that identifies the nature of a particular data element in a record.

Control number A unique sequential number supplied by the system to each new bibliographic record when it is entered into the online catalog.

Copyright Usually appears on the verso of the title page of a book and states that the book's contents are the property of the author or publisher.

Corporate body An organization or group of persons that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as an entity. Typical examples of corporate bodies are associations, institutions, business firms, nonprofit enterprises, governments, government agencies, religious bodies, local churches, and conferences.

Cover title A title printed on the cover of an item as issued.

Delimiter A special character used in conjunction with a subfield code to introduce each subfield in a variable field where each element, or unit of data, is not necessarily limited to a prescribed size, content, and position in the record. Character may vary in design but typically is a ‡ or $.

Edition Books, pamphlets, fascicles, single sheets, etc. All copies produced from essentially the same type image (whether by direct contact or by photographic or other methods) and issued by the same entity. Intellectual content is unique and unchanged to the work. Significant variation of the content requires a new edition statement.

Editor One who prepares for publication for an item not his or her own. The editorial work may be limited to the preparation of the item for the manufacturer, or it may include supervision of the manufacturing, revision, (restitution), or elucidation of the content of the item, and the addition of introduction, notes, and other critical matter. In some cases, it may involve the technical direction of a staff or person engaged in creation or compiling the content of the item. See also Compiler.

Element A word, phrase, or group of characters representing a distinct unit of bibliographic information and forming part of an area of the description.

End-of-field marker The same thing as a field terminator ( ¶ ) which signals to the computer the information is complete for that field or “line.”

Entry A bibliographic record of an item in a catalog. See also Heading.

Entry word The word by which a bibliographic entry is arranged in the catalog, usually the first word (other than an article) of the heading. See also Heading.

Extent of item The first element of the physical description area. It gives the number and the specific material designation of the units of the item being described and, in some cases, other indications of the extent (e.g., duration).

Facsimile reproduction A reproduction simulating the physical appearance of the original in addition to reproducing its content exactly. See also Reprint.

Field One or more data elements that form a logical unit. In a bibliographic record, for example, one field contains publication data, another physical description, etc. Typically, each field begins with a start of message ( ) and ends with a field terminator ( ¶ )

Field number The same thing as a Line number, typically 3 characters, beginning with 001 and ending 999.

Field terminator A special character that indicates the end of a field. On most screens, it appears as the symbol.

Fill character A marker, found in certain positions of fixed and variable fields, that indicates where a valid character must be entered before the system will accept that field. Fill characters appear on workforms. On most screens, it appears as a symbol _ .

Fixed field A field in a machine-readable record in which each element, or unit of data, is limited to a prescribed size, content, and position in the record.

Format In its widest sense, a particular physical presentation of an item. (E.g. monograph, serial, videorecording, map, computer file, etc.)

Frontispiece An illustration preceding the title page of a book and usually on the verso of the half title page.

General material designation A term indicating the broad class of material to which an item belongs and indicated in field 245 subfield ‡h (e.g., microfilm, sound recording, computer file). See AACR2r98 for authorized list of terms.

Half title A title of a publication appearing on a leaf preceding the title page.

Heading A name, word, or phrase placed at the head of a catalog entry to provide an access point. See also Access point.

Index Word-by-word or letter-by-letter lists, in alphabetical order, important words, names, and places in the text of the book. Usually includes see and see-also references.

Indicator A one-digit code that provides information to the computer about a variable field. The presence, meaning, and use of indicators will vary from field to field. Depending on the tag number of the field, either a numeric indicator value or a blank occupies each of the two reserved indicator positions in each field which always follows the tag number after one space.

Item A document or set of documents in any physical form, published, issued, or treated as an entity, and as such forming the basis for a single bibliographic description.

Joint author A person who collaborates with one or more other persons to produce a work in relation to which the collaborators perform the same function. See also Shared responsibility.

Leaf One of the units into which the original sheet or half sheet of paper, parchment, etc. is folded to form part of a book, pamphlet, journal, etc.; each leaf consists of two pages, one on each side, either or both may be blank.

Line number The sequential numeric identification assigned by the system to each variable field in a record, appearing directly to the left of the field's tag. Also, the sequential numeric identification assigned to each entry in the display of a multiple record search result.

Machine-readable cataloging MARC Bibliographic information which is arranged in a prescribed format and on a medium, such as magnetic tape, that allows that information to be read by electronic data processing equipment, such as computers.

Main entry The complete catalog record of an item, presented in the form by which the entity is to be uniformly identified and cited. The main entry may include the tracing(s). See also Added entry.

Main heading The first part of a heading that includes a subheading.

MARC An acronym for MAchine-Readable Cataloging.

MARC format A format for communicating machine-readable cataloging records, originally developed by the Library of Congress and used by many online systems, such as OCLC.

Masthead A statement of title, ownership, editors, etc., of a newspaper or periodical. In the case of newspapers it is commonly found on the editorial page or at the top of page one, and, in the case of periodicals, on the contents page.

Mixed responsibility A work of mixed responsibility is one in which different persons or bodies contribute to its intellectual or artistic content by performing different kinds of activities (e.g., adapting or illustrating a work written by another person). See also Joint author, Shared responsibility.

Monograph A nonserial item (i.e., an item either complete in one part or complete, or intended to be completed, in a finite number of separate parts).

Multipart item A monograph complete, or intended to be completed, in a finite number of separate parts.

Name-title added entry An added entry consisting of the name of a person or corporate body and the title of an item. (Field 700 ‡ t )

Non-filing characters Typically, articles at the beginning of a title, such as 'a,' 'an,' or 'the' including the space that follows, are counted as non-filing characters. 'The' would count as 4 non-filing characters (i.e. 3 letters, t h e plus the space).

Other title information A title borne by an item other than the title proper, or parallel or series title(s); also any phrase appearing in conjunction with the title proper, etc., indicative of the character, contents, etc., of the item or the motives for, or occasion of, its production or publication. The term includes subtitles, avant-titles, etc., but does not include variations on the title proper (e.g., spine titles, sleeve titles).

Part 1. One of the subordinate units into which an item has been divided by the author, publisher, or manufacturer. In the case of printed monographs, generally synonymous with volume; it is distinguished from a fascicle by being a component unit rather than a temporary division of a work. 2. As used in the physical description area, "part" designates bibliographic units intended to be bound several to a volume.

Personal author The person chiefly responsible for the creation of the intellectual or artistic content of a work.

Plate A leaf containing illustrative matter, with or without explanatory text, that does not form part of either the preliminary or the main sequence of pages or leaves.

Preface The author's discussion of the various aspects of the creation of the book. Follows the title page of the book.

Preliminaries The title page(s) of an item, the verso of the title page(s), any pages preceding the title page(s), and the cover.

Pseudonym A name assumed by an author to conceal or obscure his or her identity.

Publisher The company that issued the book.

Recto 1. The right-hand page of a book, usually bearing an odd page number. 2. The side of a printed sheet intended to be read first. Typically, the title page or leaf is a recto page or leaf.

Reference source Any publication from which authoritative information may be obtained. Not limited to reference works.

Reprint 1. A new printing of an item made from the original type image, commonly by photographic methods. The reprint may reproduce the original exactly (an impression or it may contain minor but well-defined variations (an issue). 2. A new publication of an edition with substantially unchanged text.

Running title A title, or abbreviated title, that is repeated at the head or foot of each page or leaf.

Serial A publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals, newspapers; annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc., of societies,; and numbered monographic series.

Series 1. A group of separate items related to one another by the fact that each item bears, in addition to its own title proper, a collective title applying to the group as a whole. The individual items may or may not be numbered. 2. Each of two or more volumes of essays, lectures, articles, or other writings, similar in character and issued in sequence (e.g., Lowell's Among my books, second series). 3. A separately numbered sequence of volumes within a series or serial (e.g., Notes and queries, 1st series, 2nd series, etc.).

Sine loco (s.l.) Without place (i.e., the name of the place of publication, distribution, etc., is unknown).

Sine nomine (s.n.) Without name (i.e., the name of the publisher, distributor, etc., is unknown).

Statement of responsibility A statement, transcribed from the item being described, relating to persons responsible for the intellectual or artistic content of the item, to corporate bodies from which the content emanates, or to person or corporate bodies responsible for the performance of the content of the item.

Subfield A subdivision of a variable field containing data logically identifiable as a discrete unit of that field. A typical publication field, for example, has three subfields: place, publisher, and date. Except for subfield "a" at the beginning of a field, each subfield is proceeded by a delimiter ( ‡ ) and a subfield code.

Subfield code A character, usually lowercase alphabetic or numeric, that identifies the data within a particular subfield.

Subheading Part of a corporate heading other than the main heading.

Supplied title A title provided by the cataloger for an item that has no title proper on the chief source of information or its substitute. It may be taken from elsewhere in the item itself or from a reference source, or it may be composed by the cataloger.

Table of contents Usually comes at the end of the preliminary material in a book and lists in order the book's main topics or the headings of the individual units and their page numbers.

Tag A three-digit identifier, usually numeric, of a variable field, beginning with 001 and ending with 999.

Tag group A collection of tags, beginning with the same first digit, that store similar kinds of information and share a similar function within a record. When referring to a tag group, the second and third digits are generally replaced with XX. For example, all tags in the 6XX tag group are subjects.

Text The main part of the book.

Title A word, phrase, character, or group of characters, normally appearing in an item, that names the item or the work contained in it.

Title page A page at the beginning of an item bearing the title proper and usually, though not necessarily, the statement of responsibility and the data relating to publication. The leaf bearing the title page is commonly called the "title page" although properly called the "title leaf." Use t.p. to abbreviate the term.

Tracing 1. A record of the headings under which an item is represented in the catalog. 2. A record of the references that have been made to a name or to the title of a item that is represented in the catalog. See also Access points.

Variable field A field in a machine-readable bibliographic record that is not limited to a prescribed size, content or position within the record.

Verso 1. The left-hand page of a book, usually bearing an even page number. 2. The side of a printed sheet intended to be read second. The verso of the title page shows the official date of publication and where the book was published.

Volume 1. In the bibliographic sense, a major division of a work, regardless of its designation by the publisher, distinguished from other major divisions of the same work by having its own inclusive title page, half title, cover title, or portfolio title, and usually independent pagination, foliation, or signatures. This major bibliographic unit may include various title pages and/or pagination. 2. In the material sense, all that is contained in one binding, portfolio, etc., whether as originally issued or as bound after issue. The volume as a material unit may not coincide with the volume as a bibliographic unit.