In the early 1970s the International Federation of Library Associations and
Institutes created a general framework for a way of standardizing the way of
describing items being cataloged. The IFLA agreed upon the general framework and
in 1977 it was published. International Standard Bibliographic Description, usually abbreviated ISBD
was the result. This system is used by catalogers in the library for use in computer based library catalogs.
The ISBD system has specific rules for different types of materials. These
The Anglo-American cataloging rules second edition uses a description
technique based on the ISBD(G).
The description itself is divided into eight areas. Some items require all
eight while others only need some of them. When only some are needed the record only includes those. The areas are:
Standard number and terms of availability
Each area of the description contains a number of elements. The rules in the
AACR2, Part 1 describe the elements of each area in detail.
Punctuation is very important in ISBD. There are three purposes for the
punctuation. First being the beginning of each area. Second reason being to
separate the elements within each area. Third is to identify particular elements
by the punctuation that precedes them. Punctuation comes before each area and
element within an area.
The punctuation marks that are used in ISBD are:
. (full stop)
/ (diagonal OR slash)
[ ] (square brackets)
( ) (parenthesis)
… (marks of omission)
? (question mark)
= (equals sign)
+ (plus sign)
The rules for how to use punctuation in ISBDs are standardized. The first
general rule is that each are is separated by a period, space, or a new line.
Notes are usually put as a separate paragraph for easier readability. A second
general rule is that square brackets indicate information which has been taken
from outside the “preferred sources” for cataloging. A third one is that three
periods indicates an omission. This is done when there is a lot of unneeded
information or the title or other information is extremely long. The fourth is
that parentheses are used for different purposes in different areas. Finally,
each area uses its own punctuation symbols to identify the elements within the
Here is a general ISBD outline for a Monograph:
Title proper = parallel title : other title information / first statement of
responsibility ; each subsequent statement of responsibility. – Edition
statement / statement of responsibility relating to the edition. – Place of
publication : publisher, date of publication. – Pagination : illustration ;
dimensions + accompanying material. – (series)
ISBN : price (qualification).
Introduction to Cataloging class notes
Learn Descriptive Cataloging by Mary Mortimer