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Unit Card Typing


J. McRee (Mac) Elrod

Last Updated: 20 May 2011

[A dead or dying skill; how it was done.]

Local Call Number

Usually a class number followed by a Cutter number, is in the upper left hand corner of the unit card. A new line is normally begun with each Cutter, with year if present on its own line.

Personal Author Main Entry

Author; if the work has three* or fewer authors (and that is authors, not compilers or editors) the first is given, surname first, at first indentation, opposite the 2nd line of the call number (usually 2 spaces). A compiler *is* the author of an index or bibliography however.

*RDA: First author mentioned regardless of number.

Corporate Body Main Entry

If the work is the annual report of a corporate body, the report of a task force, or some such, the corporate body is the author. There are fewer corporate bodies as author (main entry) under current rules than earlier. On cards the corporate author begins 2 spaces after the second line of the call number, and wraps to 2 spaces in from that.

Conference as Main Entry

If what you have is conference proceedings, the name of the conference is the author. On cards, placement is the same as corporate author.

Uniform Title as Main Entry

If the work is an anonymous classic such as the Bible, Arabic Nights, or Chicken Little, that common title (known as a uniform title) goes in author position on the card. For the Bible you give language and date. For parts of the Bible you start with Bible, e.g., Bible. O.T.* Genesis English 1995. On cards, placement is same as corporate author.

*RDA: Omit "O.T." and "N.T.", or spell out if whole collection.

Uniform Title as Filing Title

Used only after an author main entry. For classical music, laws, and very voluminous authors like Shakespeare, most libraries have a title which brings the same works together. To construct one, best look at some in the catalogue for examples, as with uniform title main entries. The uniform title goes on the card under the author, usually 4 spaces in from where the author began. It is in square brackets, and wraps to 2 spaces in.


The title as on the title page; use a space ":" space before subtitles, space "=" space before a title in another language; followed by "/" and up to three* authors. If more than three, give the first* followed by "... [et al.]*." (The title is the main entry* in this case, i.e., no author entry). If they did different things, use space ";" space, e.g., / by John Smith ; illustrated by Tim Jones. Only the first word and proper names are capitalized. Names of Acts are proper names. All German nouns are capitalized. On a card, the title begins under the author, 4 spaces in, and wraps to 2 spaces in. (That is. 4 and 2 spaces from where the author began, not from the edge of the card.) Each field within this (and any) paragraph is separated from the following by a " -- " on cards. If there is no author (i.e. title main entry), the title begins at first indentation (where the author would have begun) and wraps to 2 spaces in. This is called "hanging indentation".

RDA: List all authors if wished; first is always main entry; title is main entry only in absence of authors.

General Material Designation (GMD)*

If the item is nonbook, a general material designation follows the first title proper*. It is enclosed in square brackets on cards.

cartographic material
electronic resource
sound recording

When there is a GMD, there is also an SMD, a more specific term in collation. For example, a sound recording might be a sound disc or sound cassette. See examples in AACR2 2002. Consult the index under the name of the form.

*RDA: Omit GMD. Where media type, carrier, and content would appear on a card is not known. Perhaps substitute [carrier : content] for GMD,e.g., [online resource : text].


Edition, e.g., 2nd ed. --, Rev. ed. -- If a person wrote the edition, you would say so, e.g., Smith's chemistry. -- 2nd ed. / by Tim Jones. -- On a card, the edition continues the paragraph begun by the title.


Imprint, e.g., New York, N.Y. : Smith & Jones, 1995. On cards, the imprint ends the title paragraph, coming after the title or edition, with a " -- " between.

Always give jurisdiction for place of publication, using AACR abbreviations. Do not transcribe (as LC does) postal codes as jurisdictions.


Collation, e.g.. x, 100 p*. :$bill.* ;$c23 cm.* If multiple volumes, the number of volumes is given, e.g., 3 v. : ill. ;$c28 cm. If the volumes are numbered right through (as opposed to each volume starting with page 1, then, 3 v. (300 p.) : graphs ; 26 cm. Other possible variations include 1 v. (various pagings)** ;$c28 cm., 1 v (unpaged) ; 28 cm. If number of volumes is not know, a serial or set in progress, leave two spaces in front of the "v."*

*RDA: Spell out pages, volumes, illustrations; omit period after "cm" unless followed by a series statement.

**(Loose-leaf is used for material to be updated, not just anything in a binder.) On a card, the collation starts a new paragraph 4 spaces in, and wraps to 2 spaces in.


Series is in the same paragraph as collation, following "--".

If it has a number or year, that goes after space ";" space.

If the series is to be traced as given after collation, give "Series" as the last Roman numeral tracing. If the traced form differs, give that form after "Series:". On old LC cards, the series tracing was given as "(Series)" because the title was added to a series card, rather than being typed at the top of a unit card.


Notes. Each note begins a new paragraph below the collation. More than a note or two will result in a continuation card. (see below,)

General notes. There are also specific notes. As a beginner, if you see something which seems helpful on the title page, just quote it, e.g., 500 $a"Reports the law as of April 1, 1995." Notes go below the collation/series paragraph, usually skipping a space, each note beginning a new paragraph 4 spaces in, wrapping to 2. Some other common notes include:

Thesis, e.g., Thesis (PhD)--Podunk University, 1995.

Former bibliographic history.

Includes bibliographic references and index.

Contents, e.g., v. 1. Title one -- v. 2. Title two.

Summary. Our clients tell us that inclusion of summaries increases use due to keyword searching. But if quoting with "--", we attempt to screen out publisher's "puff" adjectives substituting "...", and just include the parts which actually tell you something about the item.

How updated.

Language, e.g., Text in English and French on inverted pages.

Subjects and Added Entries

Person as subject, in same format as person as author. On cards, subjects and added entries (7XX) all form one paragraph starting 4 spaces in, wrapping to 2, with no "--" between them. Subjects are numbered 1. 2., etc. Added entries are numbered I. II., etc. Usually a line is skipped between the last note and the first tracing, if it can be done without forcing you onto a second card. If you must do a second card, you say "(Continued on next card)" at the lower right of the card, start the next card with the author (or title if no author), the title (without subtitle) in the same paragraph (like a hanging indentation), "...", the date and "(Card 2)". Then continue with the information where you left off.

Corporate body as subject (including governments).

Conference as subject.

Uniform title as subject.

Topic as subject, e.g.:
1, Chemistry--Periodicals.

Place as subject, e.g.:
2. Canada--History--1755-1763.

Person as added entry, e.g., the 2nd and 3rd of three authors*, the first of more than three, editors, e.g." I. Jones, Jim, 1932-

*RDA: Any number of authors may be traced.

Corporate body as added entry.

Conference as added entry.

Title Added Entries

On cards all title tracings are here, while in MARC records those representing the whole work are given after title. They are given as, for example: I. Title. [traces title where there is an author. II. Title: Introduction to history. [traces a title different from that after author, e.g, a distinctive subtitle]

If a portion of the title, no note is needed. Other alternate titles should be justified by a note, e.g., Cover title.


LC card order number; not usually on a typed card; lower right corner of an LC printed card.


International Standard Bibliographic Number (ISBN); if given on card, usually last note.


Library of Congress call number (LCC); not given on typed card unless used as call number in upper left corner; to left of hole of an LC printed card.


National Library of Medicine call number; not given on typed card unless local call number.


Dewey Decimal call number (DDC); not given on typed card unless local call number; next to LC call number on LC printed card.

Sample unit card:

S45h Smith, John, 1950-
History for beginners : introduction
to history / by John Smith and Tim Jones.
-- 2nd. ed. -- New York : Smith & Jones,
x, 100 p. :$bill. ; 23 cm. -- History
textbooks ; no 5.

Includes bibliographical references and

1. History. I. Jones, Tim. II. Title.
II. Title: Introduction to history. III.

Card Sets

Cards are made into sets. One unit card (shelf list) is filed by call number. One unit card is filed my main entry. Subject and added entries are typed at the top of unit cards for filing.

In some libraries, subject headings are typed in red or all capitals. In some catalogues, subjects are ticked in the tracing and filed behind guide cards, latest first.