Data Format
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Style Guide


While the majority of this documentation is concerned with the basic format of the data, and the way in which individual fields are interpreted, this section looks at some of the areas where data could be represented in a variety of different ways and where a particular style has been adopted (particularly in the Crime Fiction Index) in an attempt at ensuring consistency. It currently contains sections on:

Specifying Titles

While it might seem obvious what the title of a book, magazine or story is, it is surprising how often a single volume will use a multitude of titles for the same item. It is therefore desirable to have a consistent approach to which variant of a title should be used and a way for indicating when there are significant differences elsewhere. Similarly, many publications might use typographical styles for titles (e.g. all capitals; all lower-case; leading capital only) and some consistency of approach is desirable.

Book Titles

The official title for a book is deemed to be the title given on the title page. Even then some decisions need to be made.

The first relates to the treatment of books deemed to be in some form of series (as is all too common these days) - for example, is one of the 1001 novelisations of the TV series Star Trek properly known as, say, Star Trek: The Klingons Return or just The Klingons Return? This issue is primarily of concern for the Locus indexes, where the "official" rule is that:

The second decision relates to the small number of titles which are overly verbose. Thus, for example, Tanith Lee's Piratica is actually listed on the title page as Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventures Upon the High Seas but is usually referred to simply as Piratica with the remainder listed in the notes as a sub-title.

A similar approach should be taken to older books which frequently contained a descriptive subtitle, as in The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance or The Time Machine: An Invention. The general guideline in such cases is that the description is not listed as part of the title and is instead mentioned as a subtitle in the notes.

Magazine Titles, Dates and Volume/Issue Information

The official title for a magazine is deemed to be the title listed at the top of the table of contents (if one exists), or in the indicia if no such title is given, or on the magazine cover if neither table of contents nor indicia is present. (Technically the indicia should contain the "official title" of the magazine, but experience has shown that, following a name change for a magazine, it is not uncommon for the indicia to continue to list the old name for a number of issues before someone remembers to change it.

Issue dates are somewhat more complicated. While a similar logic should apply, it is not uncommon for editors to make mistakes in the table of contents and if the dates there were regarded as the official date, magazine indexes would end up with two (or more) issues with the same date, which would be endlessly confusing for collectors. Instead, the usual approach is to list the date the issue should be - for example, if we have a magazine that is published on a regular monthly basis, and the previous issue was dated May and the next issue was dated July, then we know that this issue is the June issue, whatever the magazine itself might say. Similarly, if the previous issue was v6#5 and the next issue is v6#7, then we know that this issue is v6#6.

One exception is where the table of contents and cover (and/or indicia) both contain dates, either of which could be valid (not uncommon when an issue is delayed at the last minute). In this case, the date on the table of contents takes precedence.

Note also that the way in which volume/issue information is presented varies widely from magazine to magazine, and from issue to issue (e.g. "Volume One Issue Two", "Vol. CXXI No. 6", "Vol. 4, No. 6", and so on). As these formats convey no particular information (beyond typographical conventions) so these are typically standardised as "vn #m" if issue numbering restarts with each volume or as "vn, #m" where the issue numbering does not restart with each volume. Similarly, issue dates are standardised as "July 1921", "July 1, 1921", "First July 1921" or similar.

Story Titles

The official title for a story (or poem, or article, or whatever) is deemed to be the title listed on the first page of the item itself, unless all other appearances of the title are consistent but this title is different. Note that this title may include column or group headings as discussed in the general discussion of title formats.

Note that, in general, if a story title is followed by a descriptive subtitle such as "A Story for Children" or "A Cricket Story" or similar, then these subtitles are deemed not to be part of the title and should instead be listed in an item appearance note.

Title Capitalisation

Titles generally correspond to "headings" in normal proof-reading terminology, and as Fredric Brown says in The Proofreaders' Page:

The usual rule on headings is this: A, an and the are down; all prepositions and conjunctions of fewer than four letters are down; other words, regardless of length, are capitalized.

The prepositions & conjunctions concerned are primarily and, at, but, by, for, if, in, nor, of, on, or, out, and to. Although four letters from and with are also typically written in lower case. Four other words - as, off, so, up & yet - are in lower case when used as prepostions/conjunctions but are more often used as adverbs so care is needed. Thus, for example:

Roughly speaking, this rule is followed when listing titles, irrespective of the actual capitalisation used on the item itself, except for portions inside double quotes which are assumed to be first lines of poetry or similar. Note that some attention must also be paid to the exact syntax of the title. For example:

Some other specific problematic cases include:

Specifying Author Names

As with titles, different formats of an author name may appear for a given item so the "official" format is deemed to be that given in the same place as the official title (as discussed above). In general, again, the capitalisation of names in the publication itself are ignored in favour of the standard approach of capitalising each part of the name (e.g. "Edgar Rice Burroughs") except for a small number of authors who consistently used a non-standard format of name (e.g. "e e cummings").

Recording Variations in Titles and Author Names

For book/magazine titles and authors/editors, any variations should be noted in book note records with formats such as:

D1~Given as vn #m [in the Table of Contents]/[on the spine]/[on the cover].~
D1~Given as November 1959 on the cover.~
D1~The title is given as {xxxx} [in the Table of Contents]/[on the spine]/[on the cover]/[in the indicia].~

For item titles and authors, any variations should be noted in an item appearance note ('EB') record with a format such as:

E1234B1~given as ["title"] [by author] [in the Table of Contents]/[on the cover]/[on the story itself].~

Recording Translations

Some particular complications arise when handling translated material. As each translation is, effectively, a collaboration between author(s) and translator(s), the first appearance of a particular translated story will depend on who the translator(s) is, as discussed in the section on item records. As the core data format only has room to list the English language title and the first appearance of the particular translation, details of the original appearance must be noted in an item note ('ED') record with a format such as:

E 97D1~translated from the xxx (["title"], [{magazine}, [issue date]]/[<book title>, [publisher], [date]] [as by xxx]).~

For example:

E 76D1~translated from the French ("L'Eternel Adam Dans Quelques Vingt Mille Ans", {La Revue de Paris}, October 1, 1910).~
E 22D1~translated from the German (<Das Buch Der Gifte>, Safari-Verlag, 1954).~

There are some very rare cases where an item is translated into one language and then either further translated into a third language or translated back into the original language. In this case all the translators involved should be listed and the note expanded to describe the situation. For example:

E 93A1~Giesy, J. U./Smith, Junius B. ,(tr:Haynes, Dr. Elmer E.|Ackerman, Forrest J)~In 2112 %%2~ss1968ISFJun
E 93D1~back-translated into English by Ackerman from the version translated into Esperanto by Dr. Elmer E. Haynes ("En 2112") which was published in {The Cavalier}, August 10, 1912, along with the original English version.~

E 100A1~Kierkegaard, S^o/ren~Preface to Writing Samples %%1~ss~A ~
E 100D1~in Danish.~
E 111A1~Kierkegaard, S^o/ren ,(tr:Martin, Clancy)~Preface to Writing Samples %%2~ss~A ~
E 111D1~translated into English by Clancy Martin from the original Danish.~
E 123A1~Kierkegaard, S^o/ren ,(tr:Martin, Clancy|Nooteboom, Cees)~Preface to Writing Samples %%3~ss~A ~
E 123D1~translated into Dutch by Cees Nooteboom from the English translation by Clancy Martin.~
E 135A1~Kierkegaard, S^o/ren ,(tr:Martin, Clancy|Nooteboom, CeesCoetzee, J. M.)~Preface to Writing Samples %%4~ss~A ~
E 135D1~translated into English by J.M. Coetzee from the Dutch by Cees Nooteboom, itself translated from the English translation by Clancy Martin.~

Note the use of title disambiguation (%%n) to distinguish the different versions of the story.

Items in a Different Medium

From time to time items appear in a book or magazine which have previously appeared in a different medium (such as radio or television) but have not previously appeared in print. These are effectively translations (from one medium to another) and hence are treated in a similar way to translations from a different language - the first appearance "in print" is regarded as the first appearance of the item with details of the original appearance noted in an item note ('ED') record with a format such as:

E 141D1~first broadcast [as "title"] on [<{program}>] [, network] [, date].~

Historically this has also been used for items which first appeared "online" but with the growth of online magazines such publications are increasingly being treated as the "normal" first appearance.

Recording Revisions

Revisions are also complicated because a judgement call needs to be made on whether the revision is typically a local variation of a standard text (e.g. an abridgement, or a minor revision for book publication, or similar) or is a substantive change that will probably become the standard version in later reprinting. The former are noted on item appearance note ('EB') records with a format such as:


The latter are noted on item note ('ED') records with formats such as:

E1234D1~revised from [{magazine}, [issue date]]/[<book title>, [publisher], [date]] [as by xxx].~
E1234D1~revised from ["title"] ([{magazine}, [issue date]]/[<book title>, [publisher], [date]] [as by xxx]).~

Documenting Indexers

In general the final book note record for a book or magazine issue (particularly the latter) should contain information on the source of the information. Where possible these should follow a consistent format with other entries in the index. Some of the more common standard forms include:

D1~Details taken from Table of Contents.~
D1~Details taken from eBay listing.~
D1~Details taken from magazine website.~
D1~Details taken from online listing.~
D1~Details supplied by Martin Wooster.~
D1~Details supplied by Denny Lien from an online copy at HathiTrust or Google Books.~
D1~Details supplied by John Locke from Table of Contents.~

Note also that the indexer name used should be normalised to the form used in other listings submitted by that indexer. Where there have been multiple variants in the past an attempt has been made to check with the indexer what name they would prefer to see used and some of the more common "normalised" forms are:

Bill Seabrook
Denny Lien
Doug Anderson
Douglas Greene
Ira B. Matetsky
K. Becker
Kenneth R. Johnson
Martin Wooster
Mike Ashley
Mike Ward
Morgan Wallace
Ned Brooks
Rich Horton
Richard Bleiler
Richard Fidczuk
Rick Hall
Rob Preston
Steve Holland
Steve Miller
Steven Rowe

Note that if two (or more) indexers have made significant contributions to the indexing of a particular issue then both should be credited.

Note also that, by convention, the editors (Bill Contento & Phil Stephensen-Payne) are not individually credited on issues they have indexed or have helped index.