Data Format
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Item Records

An item record is required for each separate item within a book or magazine which is to be indexed. It contains between 4 and 9 fields:

  1. Record Type

    This is in the format EnnnnAm where nnnn is the page number of the book on which the story starts (with leading spaces to pad to 4 characters if necessary) and m is the number of item note records to follow. If the page number is not known use '␢␢␢␢'. Note that, if an item is part of a formal item group, the page number should be prefixed with a "_" character. While there should be a minimum of four characters specified for the page number, more can be used if necessary (e.g. for an introductory note starting on page xxxviii). Similarly, while this field typically specifies just the page number on which the item starts, it is quite legal to specify the full range of page numbers such as, for example, "1-49,52, 53-54".

    If no page number is specified, then a number of standard abbreviations may be used where relevant:
    fc. - front cover
    ifc. - inside front cover
    fps. - frontispiece
    ibc. - inside back cover
    bc. - back cover
  2. Author(s) of story

    This is in the standard internal format for author names, but may be omitted for item group headers.

  3. Title

    This contains the title of the item with all leading articles, spaces and special characters removed and stored in the "Title Additional Information" field. If the title starts with numbers or abbreviations that may cause it to be sorted into an undesirable order, then the title may be specified in the form "sort title^\\real title" (e.g. "Sixty-Six Rose St.^\\66 Rose St.) to ensure the correct ordering. More discussion on general protocol on specifying titles can be found in the section on title formats which also discusses complex issues such as indicating when an item previously appeared under a different title or byline (or both), is part of a formal series of items, conflicts with another story of the same title and much much more.

    Exactly what the title of a particular item is can be the subject of some debate - this is discussed in more detail in the style guide. Note that, if there is a significant discrepancy (e.g. inclusion/omission of a leading article) between the title on the front page of the story and that displayed elsewhere (e.g. in the contents list) then the title on the front page of the story should be used and a note to this effect should be included in an 'EB' record. This is also discussed further in the style guide.

    If the item is part of an ongoing column with a formal column title then this field should be specified as "<column title>|␢<item title>" with leading articles & such-like removed from both. If it belongs to a formal series with a defined series prefix (see the section on title formats for more details of handling this) then the field should be specified as "<series prefix>||<series sequence>||<item title> with leading articles & such-like removed from both "series prefix" and "item title".

    Note that this field is not optional and must always contain something. By convention, for items (like cartoons) where there is no title, or cases where it is known that an author has an item in the issue but the title is unknown, a "descriptive" title should be added in square brackets (e.g. "[cartoon]", "[photo of Stephen King]", "[unknown story]").

  4. Item publication notes

    This consists of a two character item type followed by the original publication details, in the standard formats for each. If this item is a translation then the publication details should relate to the first publication of this translation, not of the original story, with details of the original publication (if none) in an ED record as discussed in the style guide. For a further discussion of how to identify which is the original publication of an item see the section on first appearance for items.

  5. Title additional information

    This contains any bits of the title that were removed from the start of field 3 (including any trailing spaces). If field 3 contained either a column title or series prefix as discussed above then this is the additional information for that field.

  6. Item title additional information

    This is only used if field 3 contained either a column title or series prefix as discussed above, in which case it contains any bits of the title that were removed from the item title.

  7. Series ID

    If the item is part of an identified series then this field contains one or more Series IDs or Groups IDs separated by '/' character. Series IDs are in the format described for the Series Control File. Group IDs are indicated by a leading @ and are index-specific: currently they are used to indicate sports in the Sports Fiction Index and to indicate locations in Al Hubin's Crime Fiction IV. Note that if a series is provisional then " [!]" should be appended to the series ID. Note also that this field should only be used on "fiction" items.

  8. Illustrator

    This contains the name(s), in standard internal format, of any artist(s) illustrating the item.

  9. Subject

    If the item is about a particular person (or persons) or is related to some such person(s) in some way (e.g. a pastiche of a story written by them) then the author(s) referenced should be listed here in the standard internal format. For book reviews this field defines the author(s), editor(s) and/or subject(s) of the books being reviewed.

There is also a variant of the Item Record used only in older UK files to handle interviews as discussed below.

Item Groups

There are times when two or more items are explicitly grouped together in a book or magazine, for example to give a name to a group of stories by a single author or to identify a group of articles on a specific subject. In this case an item type of either gp or hd is used for the group header record depending on whether all the items are by a single author (in which case the author name is also specified on group title record) or by multiple authors (in which case the author name is left empty on the group title record).

Each of the items belonging to the group should then be listed as individual item records immediately after the group header (even if they are not all physically adjacent in the magazine), with a "_" character preceding the page number for each such item. Thus, for example,

E␢␢48A0~MacDonald, Philip~Two Exploits of Harry the Hat~gp1949EQMFeb~
E␢_49A0~MacDonald, Philip~Absence of Tonathal~vi1949EQMFeb~The ~~Harry the Hat~
E␢_52A0~MacDonald, Philip~Sheep's Clothing~vi1949EQMFeb~~~Harry the Hat~

would be displayed as:

48 * Two Exploits of Harry the Hat * Philip MacDonald * gp
_49 * The Absence of Tonathal [Harry the Hat] * Philip MacDonald * vi
_52 * Sheep's Clothing [Harry the Hat] * Philip MacDonald * vi

Note that a similar approach may be used when one defined item (e.g. a letter) contains a number of other items (such as stories or poems). In extreme cases, the contained item may be a group in which case the group header is prefixed with a single "_" character and the items within the group are prefixed with two "_" characters, as in:

E␢␢48A0~Howard, Robert E.~Letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, ca. February 1929~lt1989*SLtREH1~
E␢_48A0~Howard, Robert E.~Case of the College Toilet~ss2007*CLtREH1~The ~
E␢_50A0~Howard, Robert E.~untitled ("And there were lethal women")~pm2007*CLtREH1~
E␢_50A0~Howard, Robert E.~untitled ("A haunting cadence fills the night with fierce longing")~pm2007*CLtREH1~
E␢_51A0~Howard, Robert E.~Mysteries~gp~The ~
E__51A0~Howard, Robert E.~Invocation~pm2007*CLtREH1~The ~
E__51A0~Howard, Robert E.~Chorus of the Chant~pm2007*CLtREH1~The ~
E__51A0~Howard, Robert E.~Sacrifice~pm2007*CLtREH1~The ~

E␢_52A0~Howard, Robert E.~untitled ("Through the mists of silence there came a sound")~pm2007*CLtREH1~

In any new data, the "gp" item type should only be used in this way, but there may still be some older data in which this was used in a different way as discussed in the Group Entry Record Layout section of the Item Record Notes section. Conversely, the "hd" item type may either be used as above or simply to indicate a formal section heading in a book or magazine - the difference between the two is indicated solely by the presence or absence of a "_" character at the start of the page number on the next item.

Book Review Records

Book reviews are specified via a normal item record as follows:


E _50A0~Miller, P. Schuyler~Modern Science Fiction~br1953ASFJun~~~~~Bretnor, Reginald~
E _50Q1~Coward-McCann~1953~52-11714~$3.75~274~

E _55A0~Miller, P. Schuyler~Best Science Fiction Stories: 1952~br1953ASFJun~The ~~~~Bleiler, Everett F.!ed./Dikty, T. E.!ed.~
E _55Q1~Frederick Fell~1952~~$2.95~288~

If the book review has a formal title that doesn't match the name of the book(s) being reviewed, then the book(s) should be listed in an item appearance note.


E 22A1~Boardman, John~Third Vergil~br1969SFR#34~The ~~~~Davidson, Avram~
E 22B1~review of <The Phoenix and the Mirror>.~

E 10A1~Holdom, Lynne~Messages Make Messes~br1975SFR#15~~~~~Moorcock, Michael/Norton, Andre~
E 10B1~reviews of <The Land Leviathan> by Moorcock and <Iron Cage> by Norton.~

UK-specific Interview Records

These records were created for use in the UK files at a time prior to the support for the Subject field in normal Item Records and were a way of formally recording the subject of an interview. They have an identical format to the first five fields of an Item Record except that:

These are progressively being translated into standard Item Records with the interviewee name(s) being moved to the subject field.


E0001I0~Gorman, Ed #2|Koontz, Dean~Interview with Dean Koontz~iv1994*KntzCmp~

E0023I0~Greenland, Colin|Pratchett, Terry/Gaiman, Neil~Death and the Modem: Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman Interview~iv1990FEAJul~