Data Format
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Title Formats

This section discusses some of the more complex issues and formats to be considered when specifying a title, particularly on an Item Record. In particular it considers:

Removing Leading Articles and Punctuation

When specifying any sort of "title", be it a book or magazine title, an item or column title, a series prefix or even a series ID, the following should be moved from the start of the title to the appropriate "title additional field":

Note that this needs to be done twice for any title as articles may follow or precede punctuation such as quotation marks.

The one exception to the above is when a title starts with a '[' character. This is used to indicate a descriptive title such as "[unknown poem]" and is left unchanged so that it will sort to the end of the title list.


"The Best Mystery Writers of All Time" => "Best Mystery Writers of All Time"" with ""The " as additional
The {Obo} Mystery => "Obo} Mystery" with "The {" as additional
[unknown title] => [unknown title] with no additional

Using Sort Titles

While the previous section (on removing leading articles and punctuation) addresses most issues related to producing titles that can easily be sorted into the expected order, there is still a problem with titles which contain numeric characters, particularly at the front of the title. If we have a title like "3 Men in a Room" then the simple approaches of either leaving it as it is (which will sort to the front of the title list) or of removing the numeric characters (which will sort it under 'M') produce undesirable results. To address this, a title may be prefixed with a "sort title" (separated from the real title by a special trigraph divider of ^\\). As well as handling numbers this approach can also be used to expand abbreviations such as "Dr." and "Mr."


Three Men in a Room^\\3 Men in a Room
Case of the Three Suspects^\\Case of the 3 Suspects
Testimony of Doctor Farnsworth^\\Testimony of Dr. Farnsworth
One Thousand Dollars a Day^\\$1000 a Day

Note that there are frequently multiple ways in which a complex number (like $1.98 or 5,271,009) might be translated and there are currently no precise rules on how such translations should be handled. For this reason, any titles that start with a four-digit year (the most common case of a title starting with a number) should be left unchanged.

Specifying Serial Parts

Frequently a story is serialised across multiple parts (particularly in a magazine). In this case, each part should have the part number and total number of parts appended to the item title in form "[Part n of m]" with two spaces separating the leading '[' from the end of the item title. Note that, if the total number of parts is from 10 to 99 then the part number should have an additional leading space if it is between 1 and 9 to ensure the parts are sorted into order correctly (and likewise for serials with 100 parts or more).

Note that if neither part number nor number of parts is known then "[Part ? of ?]" should be used, except when it is known that the current part is the end of the serial in which case "[Part last of ?"] should be used. Note also that, in some cases, the stated total number of parts for a given serial may vary from issue to issue of a magazine; in this case the actual number should be used throughout with an item appearance note added to explain the discrepancy.

If the serial has also been published as a standalone item, then the item type for each serial part should be the same as when it was published in such a way; otherwise it is specified as "sl".


E 101A0~Patterson, J. H.~Man-Eaters of Tsavo  [Part 6 of 7]~sl1927+BlMskMar~The ~
E 789A0~Wallace, Edgar #1~Green Archer  [Part  4 of 14]~sl1923+DetMgAug31~The ~~~Reynolds, Warwick~
E 34A0~Kummer, Frederic Arnold #1~Diving Beauty  [Part ? of ?]~sl1932+IllLoJul~
E 28A0~Merritt, A.~Rhythm of the Spheres  [Part last of ?]~ss1936TWSOct~

Handling Serial Parts with Explicit Part Titles

There are times when individual parts of a serial are given explicit titles in the magazine in which they appear. Currently there is no support in the indexing programs for specifying such titles although it has been agreed that the use of a comma after the total number of parts will be used to indicate the presence of such a subtitle as in "{Part m of n{, serial part title}", although precise details have not been specified.

For now the recommended approach is to list the serial part title in an item appearance note with a cross-reference in the additional references file.

Specifying Title or Author Changes since First Appearance

If an item initially appeared under a different title then the item title should be followed by two spaces and then ["original title"]. If the story originally appeared under a different byline then the additional data is in the form [as by byline]. If both then we have ["original title", as by byline]. Note that this does not apply to titles which vary only in minor details (which should be handled by Standard Title Records) or to simple variations in an author's name (which are defined in the Names Control File).

If the story is an extract from a larger work then the additional data should be in the form [from <book title>] (if a book) or [from "larger work"] (if not a book).

In either case, if the item in question is part of a serial, the additional data should be separated from the serial information by "; ". Note also that:


["`Jest a Dub'"] {original title "Jest a Dub"}
[as by R. W. Escott]
["`Jest a Dub'", as by Roy W. Hinds #2]
["Night I Died", anonymously]

[Part 1 of 2; "Cry Murder!"]
[Part 1 of 2; as by Norbert Davis]
[Part 1 of 2; "Cry Murder!", as by Norbert Davis]
[from <Following the Equator>]
[from <One Hand Clapping>, as by Joseph Kell]

E 70A0~Hartley, William #1 ,(hp:Cox, William R.)~Punch Proof [as by William R. Cox]~nv1938+KnckoApr /May~

Note that this format (with author name only) may also be used on the initial appearance of an item that was uncredited or indirectly credited when the real author is known.

Specifying Column Titles and Series Prefixes

If the item is an article that forms part of a regular column then the title should be the column name (minus leading article and whatever) followed by '|' followed by the item name (also minus leading article and whatever) as in, for example:

E 6A0~Allan, Nina~Time Pieces| Setting Off for the Mountains~cl2016INZMar /Apr~

Note that, in such cases, the item type should typically be specified as "cl" and the item will be treated both as an instance of the column and as a standalone article (with an implicit item type of "ar") with, in this case, a title of "Setting Off for the Mountains". If the column contains items of a particular type (such as true stories or movie reviews) then the more specific type should be used and will be applied to both appearances in the index, as in:

E 101A0~Somerville, Charles~Manhunters| Insomniac~ts1923+BlMskJul15~The ~The ~
E 58A0~Sieber, Mark~Horror Drive-In| Gift of Reading~mr2012CMD#66~~The ~

Similarly, some stories are formally identified in a magazine's Table of Contents with a series prefix and these may be specified in the same way, with the series prefix taking the place of the column title.

In each of the above cases, individual items in the column/series may have a formal sequence number associated with them as in, for example, "Portrait of a Killer No. 23^--Mildred Bolton". In such cases we typically want to index the item both as part of the column/series and under the item title, as well as preserving the order of the entries in the series. Such items are defined with the format:

<Series Prefix>||xnnn<Series Sequence>|Item Title


Note that, strictly speaking, there should be no spaces between the "|" after the series sequence and the start of the item title, but a single space is allowed before the item title and is treated as if it was specified at the end of the series sequence instead (i.e. it precedes any item additional title rather than preceding the title itself). Note also that the item title and/or series sequence may be omitted if none is specified in the magazine.

There are three special cases for the Item Title that may be used with either format:


E 107A0~Whitfield, Raoul F.~Crime Breeders||0005, Part 5: |Killers' Show~nv1930BLMApr~The ~~Crime Breeders| The~
E 156A0~Russell, J. R.~Poisons: Mysterious Drugs Which Deal Death||0002: II.^--|Mercury~ar1921DSMApr 9~
E 443A0~Grierson, Francis D.~Professor's Problems||0004, No. 4|~ss|HMS|1923|Jul|(v1:6)|~The ~~Wells| Professor~
E 364A0~Trollope, Anthony~Small House at Allington||-001: Chapter 1.| Squire of Allington~sl1862CNHSep~The ~The ~

E 118A0~Cain, Paul~Fast One||0001|~ss1932BLMMar~
E 236A0~Pournelle, Jerry~Step Farther Out| [untitled]~ar1985*FrFrnt3~A ~
E 170A0~Montanye, C. S.~Broadway Decameron Nights||0018: XVIII| [unknown title]~ss1921+BrzStDec~

Note that Sort Titles may be specified on either the series prefix or the item title (or both) if necessary, as in:

E 325A0~Soutar, Andrew~Doctor Toby's Cases^\\Dr. Toby's Cases,|| No. II:| Passing Cloud~ss|NMG|1911|Dec|#33|~~A ~

Similarly, if the item was first published under a different title, then the original title and/or byline can be specified in the usual way, as in:

E 47A0~Kersh, Gerald~Adventures of Karmesin||0001, 1: |Karmesin, Murderer ["Inscrutable Providence"]~ss1944+PeoplDec24~The ~~Karmesin~
E 33A0~Christie, Agatha~Tuesday Club Murders||0001| ["The Tuesday Night Club"]~ss1927RYLDec~The ~~Marple| Jane~
E 99A0~Anon. ,(by:Whitechurch, Victor L.) ,(ed:Dana, Marvin)~Mysteries of the Rail||0001: No. I^--|Car That Vanished ["Sir Gilbert Murrell's Picture", as by Victor L. Whitechurch]~ss1905RYLOct~~The ~Hazell| Thorpe~

Specifying Numeric Prefixes

If the item belongs to a numbered group of items in a particular issue then a special numeric prefix may be used designated by the trigraph ^-| such that the prefix is listed in the issue index but not in any of the other indexes. As with the series prefix above there should be no spaces between the trigraph and the start of the item title, but a single space is allowed before the item title and is treated as if it was specified at the end of the numeric prefix instead. Similarly, Sort Titles may be specified on either the item title in the usual way if necessary, but are never valid on the numeric prefix as this is never sorted in any way. Note, however, that any title additional is specified in the normal title additional field rather than in the item additional as with column and series prefixes. In addition, although it is unlikely to be necessary, numeric prefixes and column or series prefixes may be used on the same item field.


E 372A0~Martineau, Harriet~Sketches from Life~gp1851+HpNMMFeb~
E_372A0~Martineau, Harriet~I. ^-|Old Governess~ss +LdrLo~The ~
E_374A0~Martineau, Harriet~II. ^-|Collegian~ss +LdrLo~The ~
E_377A0~Martineau, Harriet~III. ^-|Maid-Servant~ss +LdrLo~The ~

E 891A0~Hutchinson, Nelly M.~Moods of the Calendar [anonymously]~gp1874+HpNMMMay~
E_891A0~Hutchinson, Nelly M.~I.^--^-|May Morning [anonymously]~pm1874+HpNMMMay~
E_891A0~Hutchinson, Nelly M.~II.^--^-|Full Moon [anonymously]~pm1874+HpNMMMay~The ~

Disambiguating Multiple Items with the Same Title

One recurring problem is when an author uses the same title for two stories that are actually completely different. Such stories can be differentiated by adding " %%n" at the end of the title, where "n" is a number or letter (1-9, A-Z, a-z in that order) that determines the chronological sequence of the stories. The additional characters will not be displayed but prevent the index programs from treating them as the same item. Each such story may be accompanied with an item note record which explains the ambiguity.


E 36A1~Cummings, Ray~After the Murder %%1~ss1932DFWMay14~
E 36D1~not the same as the story of the same title in the February 9, 1935 issue.~

E 99A1~Cummings, Ray~After the Murder %%2~ss1935DFWFeb 9~
E 99D1~not the same as the story of the same title in the May 14, 1932 issue.~

E 49A1~Gardner, Erle Stanley~Hard as Nails %%1~nv1925+BlMskMar~~~Jenkins| Ed~
E 49D1~not the same as the story of the same title in the January 15, 1935 issue of {Dime Detective}.~

E 8A1~Gardner, Erle Stanley~Hard as Nails %%2~nv1935DMDJan15~
E 8D1~not the same as the story of the same title in the March 1925 issue of {Black Mask}.~

Note that this differentiator may be used together with any of the other constructs described in this section, as in:

E 38A1~Whitfield, Raoul F.~Border Brand||0002 #2: |Blue Murder %%1~nv1928BLMJul~~~Border Brand~
E 47A0~Coxe, George Harmon~Killer Cop ["Alias the Killer %%2"]~ss1944COLAug26~The ~
E 73A0~Christie, Agatha~Where There's a Will %%2 ["Wireless"]~ss1926MYZMar 1~

A second approach, particularly for poems, is to use the same approach as for untitled poems, i.e. to append some or all of the first line of the poem, as in:

E 12A0~Becker, Charlotte~Song ("I gave to love the fairest rose")~pm1905AINJun~
E 12A0~Becker, Charlotte~Song ("Love planted my rose in his garden fair")~pm1905AINJul~
E 12A0~Becker, Charlotte~Song ("Nay, ask me not, dear heart")~pm1904AINFeb~

Note that, as a rule of thumb, thus approach should always be used when a poem has a generic title such as "Song".

Untitled Poems or Story Fragments

There are times when a poem (or less commonly a story fragment) does not have a formal title. In this case, if the first line of the poem/story is known, the convention is to list the title as "untitled" (in lower case) followed by some/all of the first line quoted within brackets and terminated by an ellipsis if truncated, for example:

E 21A0~McBride, Lauren~untitled ("let's take the pills together")~pm|S*L|2014|Sum|(v37:3)|~
E 26A0~Wilson, Matthew~untitled ("Sex is tricky ^._")~pm|S*L|2014|Sum|(v37:3)|~
E 26A0~Howard, Robert E.~untitled ("The night was damp^._")~uw|FCR|1976|#7|Feb|~
E 478A0~Howard, Robert E.~untitled fragment ("And so his boyhood wandered into youth")~pm1937WRTDec~

If the first line is not known then a generic title such as "unknown story" should be specified within square brackets, as in:

E A0~Hart, Rob W.~[unknown story]~ss2014+NeedlSpr~
E A0~Golden, Bruce~[unknown poem]~pm|Thirs|2014|Jul|#1|~