The FictionMags Index Family
Item Types & Other Abbreviations
The following abbreviations may be found in the FictionMags Index Family. For
those who are submitting index information and would like some guidelines of
which types should be used when, or for anyone who just wants a fuller definition,
most of the abbreviations are hyperlinked to a discussion of what the code means
and when it is used. Note that, because of the wide variety of the sources from
which the index has been compiled, it must be stressed that this simply indicates
how the abbreviations should, ideally, be used – there are many cases where
an abbreviation has been used in a way that doesn't match the following list
(although these are, hopefully, a minority).
|ar = article
||es = essay
||in = introduction
||n. = novel
||sl = serial segment
|as = afterword to story
||ex = extract
||is = introduction to story
||ob = obituary
||sr = story review
|au = audio
||e/s = edge-stapled
||iv = interview
||pi = pictorial
||ss = short story
|Aut = Autumn
||fa = facetious article
||iw = incomplete work
||pl = play
||sy = symposium
|aw = afterword
||fc = front cover
||ix = index
||pm = poem(s)
||sz = synopsis
|bc = back cover
||Fll = Fall
||lc = letter column
||pp = prose poem
||s/b = square-bound
|bg = biographical material
||fp = frontispiece
||lk = linking material
||pr = preface
||s/s = saddle-stapled
|bi = bibliography
||fr = fanzine review
||lr = magazine review
||pt = photography
||tc = true crime
|br = book review
||fw = foreword
||lt = letter(s)
||pz = puzzle
||te = true experience
|Chr = Christmas
||gm = game
||mg = magazine
||qa = question & answer column
||th = theatre review
|cl = column
||gp = group of items
||mm = memoir
||qz = quiz
||ts = true story
|cn = competition
||gr = game review
||mp = map
||rc = review column
||uw = unfinished work
|cr = criticism
||hd = heading
||mr = movie review
||ri = reviews introduction
||vi = vignette
|cs = comic strip
||hu = humour
||ms = miscellaneous
||rr = round-robin
||Win = Winter (at end of year)
|ct = cartoon
||ia = illustrated article
||mu = music score
||rv = review
||Wtr = Winter (at beginning of year)
|cv = cover art
||ibc = inside back cover
||na = novella/short novel
||sa = story adaptation
||?? = unknown item type
|c/b = comb-bound
||ifc = inside front cover
||nb = non-fiction book
||sg = song
|ed = editorial
||il = illustration
||nv = novelette
||si = section introduction
Simple Fiction Types
These are the simplest, and probably most common types and are defined as follows:
- vi (vignette): in the context of FictionMags, "vignette"
is always used to mean "short short story", which is typically 1–3
pages (or under 1,000 words)
- ss (short story): typically 4–20 pages (or 1,000 to
- nv (novelette): typically 21–50 pages (or 8,000
to 19,999 words)
- na (novella/short novel): typically 51–100 pages (or
20,000 to 39,999 words)
- n. (novel): typically over 100 pages (or 40,000 words
Clearly the length guidelines are no more than a rough guideline, partly because
page lengths vary from magazine to magazine (and few have the time to count
the number of words) and partly because there is no agreement in the "outside
world" as to how long an item must be to be called a "novella".
Generally speaking the descriptions in the magazine may be used, although a
degree of discretion may be required – in particular, a pulp magazine that
promises "Five Complete Novels" and then delivers five stories of
20-30 pages each should not really be coded as as being "novels";
instead, "novelette" or "novella" should be used.
If the length of an item is unknown (e.g. because the details come from an
eBay listing) then "ss" should be used as the default. Note that if
the item is abridged (typically from a novel) then the appropriate type for
the full work should be used with an additional note to indicate that it is
Related Non-Prose Types
Technically, "fiction" implies "prose narrative", but there
are other related forms of literature that are often thought of as fiction,
- pm (poem(s)): hopefully self-explanatory, but may
be used either for a single poem or for a group of poems for which individual
titles are not known.
- pp (prose poem): this is typically defined as "a
prose work that has poetic characteristics such as vivid imagery and concentrated
expression" and is also sometimes referred to as a "mood piece".
The dividing line between "poem", "prose poem" and "vignette"
is very debatable – use whichever you feel is best.
- sg (song) is reserved for cases where both words
and music are published; if only the words are published then "pm" should
be used, even if the item is typically sung.
- mu (music score) is reserved for cases where only
the music is published.
- pl (play) is for any composition in prose or verse
presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story typically involving conflict or
contrast of character, especially (but not exclusively) one intended to be
acted on the stage. Note that "pl" is also used for scripts of films
or radio/TV episodes, whether broadcast or not.
ct (cartoon) is used for a single drawing (or group
of drawings) depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a caption;
examples might include Charles Addams' cartoons
in the New Yorker or the Peanuts cartoon strips.
Note that, for cartoons, the "author" of the item is the artist who drew
the caroon (i.e. Charles Addams or Charles Schulz in the above case).
- cs (comic strip) is used for a series of drawings
(usually including text) that provide a continuous narrative; examples might
include Sally the Sleuth or Modesty
Blaise. In this case the "author" is deemed to be the person
who wrote the text and the person/people who provided the illustration, if
not the same, are specified as "illustrators".
Complex Fiction Types
There are also a handful of slightly more complex types related to the above:
- ex (extract) is used whenever the item is an extract
from a larger work, and may be used for either fiction or non-fiction.
- fa (facetious article) is used for articles that
are presented as if they were fact but are clearly not intended seriously
(e.g. Asimov's Thiotimoline
- iw (incomplete work) is used for pieces of fiction
that were incomplete when published, typically because the magazine folded
partway through a serial. Note that if the work was never completed, then
"uw" should be used instead.
- lk (linking material) is used for fictional pieces
that try to provide a framework for a collection (e.g. in Brian
Aldiss' GALAXIES LIKE GRAINS OF SANDS) but have no coherent narrative
of their own.
rr (round-robin) is used for collaborative fiction
in which a number of authors each write chapters of a novel or pieces of
a story, such as The
Challenge from Beyond
- sa (story adaptation) is used where an existing
"dramatic" work (e.g. play, movie treatment, TV episode) has been rewritten
as prose fiction. A dramatic work adapted from a piece of prose fiction should
be coded as "pl" with a note of the piece it was adapted from.
- sl (serial segment) is used where a prose fiction
item of unknown length is serialised across multiple issues; if the length
is known (e.g. when reprinting an existing work) the appropriate item type
should be used; if a non-fiction item (including the "related non-prose
types" above) is serialised then the appropriate item type should always
sz (synopsis) is used when the item is a synopsis
of a larger work, usually unwritten or, at least, unpublished in full.
- ts (true story) is used for a piece that retells
a supposedly true event but recasts it in more of a fictional format (and
is often really fiction, as in the majority of pieces in the "Men's Adventure"
magazines). If specifically labelled as such in the magazine then the subsidiary
types of tc (true crime) or te
(true experience) may be used instead.
- uw (unfinished work) is used for pieces of fiction
that were unfinished when published, typically because the author died before
completing it. Note that if the work was completed, but only partially published
then "iw" should be used instead.
See also the discussion on groups of items.
Frequently items in a magazine have associated introductory or explanatory
material, either about an individual item or about all the items in the issue.
These may be described as follows:
See also the discussion on groups of items.
Ilustrations and Illustrated Articles
In general, illustrations either accompany an individual item (such as a story)
or illustrate the cover of the magazine, and are specified as part of the main
entries as discussed in the sample entry
format. However, there are other "illustrated" item types that
may be used:
- cv (cover art) is used as an alternative way of
specifying the cover artist and may be used when the cover art has an associated
title or is reprinted from a different source; in this case no page number
need be specified for front cover art, but a page number of "bc"
may be used to specify art on the back cover.
- fp (frontispiece) is used for an illustration (photographic
or otherwise) that faces or immediately precedes the title page of the issue;
again no page number is required unless the page is formally numbered.
- pt (photography) is used for an isolated photograph
or section of photographs which appear without text (beyond a caption) and
are not directly illustrating some other indexed item.
- il (illustration) is similar and is used when the
illustrations are drawn rather than photographed; as a special case mp
(map) may be used if the illustration features a map.
- pi (pictorial) is similar but is used when the bulk
of an item is photographic (e.g. a model shoot) with a degree of associated
- ia (illustrated article) is similar when the bulk
of the item is a drawing or series of drawings with a degree of associated
text (such as Ripley's Believe It or Not or Stookie
Allen's Men of Daring).
Note that, for "cv", "fp", "il", "mp" and "pt"
the "author" of the item is the artist in question; for "pi" and "ia" the "author"
is the person who wrote the text and the person/people who provided the illustration,
if different, are coded as "illustrators".
Also common in magazine issues are reviews of one kind or another. rv
(review) may be used as a generic type for any such review, but there are
also more-specific item types for different types of review:
In each case, the item type may be used either to indicate either a group of
reviews, which are not listed individually, or an individual review. In some
cases where there is a formal title for a group of reviews, as in "The
Reference Library" in Analog or "Books" in F&SF
an additional item type of rc (review column) may be
used to identify the fact. In these instances, if the group contains an introductory
essay of some kind, another special type ri (review introduction)
may be used for that essay.
Puzzles, Quizzes and Regular Features
In addition to (some of) the item types discussed above, there are a number
of other features that turn up, often on a regular basis, in magazines. These
include the following:
- cn (competition) is used where the readers are asked
to submit something (e.g. a story, the title for a story) which will be judged
with a prize awarded to the "best".
- qz (quiz) is used where the reader is asked for
the answers to a series of questions while pz (puzzle)
is used for other forms of puzzle (such as crossword puzzles). In the these
two cases the answers are typically defined in advance and no distinction
is made between cases where the answers are given elsewhere in the same publication
and cases where readers submit them for a possible prize.
- gm (game) is used for the description of a game,
or for a scenario for an existing role-playing game.
- hu (humour) is used for textual items that are presented
as having humourous intent (e.g. jokes, humorous anecdotes). Note that it
should not be used for humorous stories which are treated as fiction
in the normal way; nor should it be used for humorous/satirical articles which
should typically be labelled as "fa".
- lc (letter column) is used to indicate a column
primarily formed by letters from readers, with the author typically specified
as "[The Readers]". If desired, some or all of the individual letters
may also be specified using an item type of lt (letter)
and prefixing the page number with an underscore in each case in the same
way as for groups of items.
- qa (question & answer column) is used for features
where readers ask questions that are answered by somebody on the staff of
the magazine in question; the author given should be specified as the person
answering the questions.
- cl (column) is a subsidiary term that is used for
any feature that occurs in multiple issues of a magazine (or similar), with
the same name in each issue, and does not fit one of the above definitions
(e.g. a photography column should be coded as "pt" rather than "cl"; an editorial
column should be coded "ed"; and so on). If individual instances of the column
have separate titles then the column name should be prefixed to the item title
There are a small number of specific types that don't fit any of the above
- iv (interview) is used where the piece is presented
in a question/answer format between interviewer and interviewee (or similar),
with the interviewer specified as author and the interviewee as subject of
- ob (obituary) is used where the piece is an obituary
of a real person.
- bg (biographical material) is used for any other
form of biographical (or autobiographical) piece that appears to be a fair
and direct account of events. If specifically labelled as such in the magazine
then the subsidiary type of mm (memoir) may be used.
- bi (bibliography) is used for a bibliography of
an author's works.
- ix (index) is used for an index to the current issue,
or to a number of previous issues, of the magazine (or, indeed, of a different
- nb (non-fiction book) is used when a non-fiction
book of some kind is reprinted as part of a larger work, typically in a condensed
or abridged form.
- sy (symposium) is used where a non-fiction piece
contains individual contributions from multiple authors: the item is listed
under each author specified but a full list of co-authors is not appended
each time. If may also be used for the introductory piece in a group of items.
- au (audio) is used for online magazines (or similar)
where there is a podcast of somebody reading a story.
- ?? (unknown item type) is used where the author
and title are known but it is unclear what type of item it is.
If all else fails there are two "catch-all" types:
- ar (article) is used for any "substantial" non-fiction
piece that is not better described by one of the above; "substantial" typically
means at least a page in length and with a formal title, but will always be
a judgement call. If specifically labelled as such in the magazine then the
subsidiary types of cr (criticism) or es
(essay) may be used.
- ms (miscellaneous) is used for everything else –
most commonly short, filler, pieces (often unsigned and untitled).
Groups of Items
There are times when a group of separate items are presented together under
a group title. When the items are fiction or poetry (usually by a single author),
the item type of gp (group of items)should be used.
In this case, the group title should be specified with an item type of "gp"
and, if known, the individual items should be listed next, in the normal way
except for an underscore ("_") prefixed to the page number to indicate
the grouping, as in:
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
When the items are non-fiction and/or by multiple authors they are handled
in much the same way but with a different item type at the start. If there is
a simple header followed by a group of titled items this is typically specified
with an item type of hd (heading) and without any author
name, as in:
586 * A Man's Den: From Two Points of View * * hd
_586 * From a Woman's Point of View * Norma Lorimer * ar
_589 * From a Man's Point of View * C. V. Godby * ar
372 * Tales by the Way * * hd
_372 * Possessed of a Title * Mary Hampden * ss
_375 * The Dignity of Rank * May Aldington * ss
Note that this should only be used to label formal sections of the issue, not
subdivisions in the Table of Contents like "Features" or "Five
New Short Stories". Where a group of articles has an introductory/editorial
piece under the generic header then an item type of sy may
be used, specifying the author of that piece, as in:
348 * The Future Life: Is Immortality Necessary? * Ernest H. Rann * sy
_348 * Annihilation Difficult to Imagine * Sir Oliver Lodge * ar
_349 * The Public More Interested in Cricket * Andrew Lang * ar
_349 * The Belief Is Distinctly Weakening * Edward Clodd * ar
Note that, as here, the symposium title should not be repeated as part of the
title for each individual article.