Metadata Input Guidelines: Serials and Series


The term serial describes items published under the same title, generally as separate issues or annual texts. Some examples include: newspapers, yearbooks, journals, magazines, annual reports, newsletters, conference proceedings, etc.

The term series describes items published under different titles that all have the same secondary title, such as a series of individual books that form a trilogy. In archives, series may refer to a “record series” or group of items in a collection that have the same format, topical context, or other similarities.

Serials and Series in the Digital Collections

The UNT Libraries’ Digital Collections include a large number of serials and series. Although there are many variables, this page lays out specific examples about how we typically handle metadata for these items to maintain consistency.

Series Titles

“Series” in the Digital Collections are designated by Series Titles. These are often used to collocate groups of items to take advantage of the way that series and serial titles are browseable across collections and as a facet option for search results. Here are some broad categories of series used in the Digital Collections:

Series Types Examples
Series of items related by chronology or created in a specific time period that may not be a calendar year Fiscal Year 1975

Academic Year 2013

112th Congress

80th Legislature of Texas
Series titles authorized by the Library of Congress (generally used for government documents) AEC research and development report

Biological services program FWS/OBS

Research report (Southwest Region University Transportation Center (U.S.))
Archival collections and/or archival series Schuhmann Family Photograph Collection

Charles B. Moore Family papers, 1832-1917

Austin Papers: Series IV, 1831-1834
Published series Publications of the Texas Folklore Society

War and the Southwest series
General categories of items within a collection that may improve browsing Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Ship and the Sacred Tree: Textiles from South Sumatra (exhibition title)

10th Annual Texas Folklife Festival

[North Texas Politics & Public Officers]

Serial Records

As a general rule, formatting and values for serial records align with the Input Guidelines, however, some fields are more consistent across serial records than other kinds of records, or fit in common exceptions. The general characteristics of serial records in the Digital Collections include:

  • A standardized Main Title that fits a patterned template to ensure consistency, sorting, and findability for users
  • Many fields that stay essentially the same across all items in a serial with changes to numbers (e.g., volume/issue/quarter/etc.), dates, and personal names
  • Inclusion of Citation field information for publications with volume/issue numbers

This section provides an overview of general rules and common concerns specific to serial records in the Digital Collections with example values. It does not repeat in-depth formatting explanations covered by the general Input Guidelines for Descriptive Metadata.


  • All serial records have one Main Title and at least one Serial Title
  • Serial records may have additional titles, as appropriate
Type Guidelines Examples
Main Title The main title for a serial is constructed so that it stays consistent even if there are relative changes across issues (e.g., yearbook title pages tend to change every year even though the essential serial title stays the same). Here are some common title patterns:  
{title}, Volume #, Issue #, {date} The Battlecry, Volume 1, Number 5, October 5, 1979

NEW Source, September 1991

Scouting, Volume 67, Number 4, September 1979

The Pickwicker, Volume 20, 1952

Rawls Exchange, 2004

L.I.P. Bulletin, Volume 5, Spring 2011
{title}, Yearbook of {school}, {year}

Catalog of {school}, {year}, {type}
Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian College, 1963

Catalog of North Texas State University, 1979-1980, Undergraduate

Catalog of Texas Tech University, 2012-2013, Undergraduate and Graduate

Catalog of Abilene Christian University, 1978-1979
{organization} Annual Report: {date}

{organization} Strategic Plan: {date}

{organization} Requests for Legislative Appropriations: {date}

Interim Report to the # Texas Legislature: {organization}
City Water Board of San Antonio Annual Report: 1970

Texas Veterans Commission Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2013-2017

University of North Texas Requests for Legislative Appropriations: 2010-2011

Interim Report to the 83rd Texas Legislature: House Committee on Natural Resources
{organization} Quarterly Report: {date}

Report of the # {conference}, {date}

Proceedings of the # {conference}, {date}
Physics of Reactor Safety, Quarterly Report: October-December 1977

Report of the Twenty-Seventh National Conference on Weights and Measures, 1937

Proceedings of the Workshop on Techniques for Measurement of Thermodynamic Properties, Albany, Oregon, August 21-23, 1979
Newspaper titles tend to follow slightly different rules, to align with other guidelines:

{title} ({city, st.}), Vol. #, No. #, Ed. #, {day, date}
The Wylie News (Wylie, Tex.), Vol. 48, No. 41, Ed. 1 Wednesday, March 15, 1995

Breckenridge American (Breckenridge, Tex.), Vol. 33, No. 26, Ed. 1 Tuesday, February 10, 1953
Serial Title The serial title is the part of the Main Title that stays the same for every item and should be capitalized in the same way as the Main Title Applied Nuclear Physics Division Annual Progress Report

Texas Highways

Texas Public Utility Commission Agency Strategic Plan

The Shinnery Review

Quarry Accidents in the United States During the Calendar Year
Added Title
  • Version(s) of the title written on the item that differ from the constructed title
135th Annual Report to the Governor & Legislature: For Fiscal Year 2010 ending August 31, 2010

House Committee on Business & Industry, Texas House of Representatives interim report, 2008: a report to the House of Representatives, 81st Texas Legislature

Fourth Quarter 1999 State Sales and Use Tax Analysis Report

Forty Fifth Annual Report of the Sabine River Compact Administration for the Year 1999

Legislative Appropriations Request for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015, Submitted to the Governor's Office of Budget, Planning and Policy and the Legislative Budget Board by Fourteenth District Court of Appeals

Yellow Jacket '71

Agency Strategic Plan: For the Fiscal Years 2011-2015 Period
Alternate Title
  • Used if there are extensive abbreviations or written numbers that may be searched numerically
Report of the 35th National Conference on Weights and Measures 1950

Federal Communications Commission Reports, Second Series, Volume 27, January 29, 1971 to March 26, 1971

LULAC News, Volume 1, Issue Number 3, Wisconsin, October 1977
Parallel Title
  • Used for foreign-language items
    • For serials in multiple languages (e.g., English-language and Spanish-language versions published together in a single issue), the main title will be in English and the parallel title will be in the other language
    • For serials in a language other than English, the parallel title is the English-language version (if known)
Niños con Necesidades Médicas Especiales: Boletín para familias, Enero de 2011

Lista de Proveedores de Cuidado Primario y Hospitales, Diciembre de 2008
Series Title
  • Included when a serial is also part of one or more series
Argonne National Laboratory Reports

Fiscal Year 1994
Sort Title
  • A special, non-displaying title that forces a numerical or chronological sort rather than an alphabetical one when "sort by title" is chosen
    • Sort titles are particularly useful for serials when there is no volume/issue number, e.g.: April, August December; Fall, Spring Summer; Fortieth, Seventy-Second, Thirty-Fifth; etc.
    • It can also be used to place an index in a sequence, e.g., the index to volumes 1-40 between volumes 40 and 41
    • Since these titles do not display, shortened or abbreviated forms may be used (but this will affect how they sort when viewed alongside other items)
Retort, 1959-10

Texas Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages by Industry and County, 2009, Q1

Texas General and Special Laws, Legislature 57, Session 3

FCC Report, S2, V40x, P1

Links Western Area Conference, 25

Texas Talking Book News, 2012-24
Uniform Title
  • A standardized title, such as a consistent title pattern (generally taken from an OCLC record)
Agency Strategic Plan, for the fiscal years...

Annual financial report for fiscal year ... of the Court of Appeals--Eight District.

Summary of Enactments ... Legislature: Regular Session ... Called Session ...

Recreational Fishing Regulations: Effective...
Common Issues:
If the volume/issue (or another) number is written in Roman numerals: Use Arabic numbers and include a note Main Title: The Hexagon, Volume 98, Number 2, Summer 2007
Display Note: "Vol. XCVIII, No. 2."
If a title includes abbreviations such as "Vol.", 'No.", etc.: Write them out in the title and include a note Main Title: Chieftain, Volume 12, Number 3, March 1964
Display Note: "Vol. 12, Number 3."
If information on the item is known to be incorrect (e.g., if the Roman numerals are not changed from volume to volume, or are written incorrectly): Put the correct information in the title using [square brackets] and include a note as needed Main Title: The Age, Volume [10], Number 10, October 1989
Display Note: "Vol. XII, No. 10."

Main Title: Chieftain, Volume [1], Number [2], October 1952
If the issue covers multiple volume/issue numbers or months/seasons: Include both/all with a hyphen or slash -- generally match item formatting, but choose most common/logical punctuation to keep titles consistent across a particular publication Scouting, Volume 70, Number 3, May-June 1982

Hillviews, Volume 42, Number 1, Fall/Winter 2011


  • Name formatting and entry should align with Creator or Contributor guidelines, e.g.:
    • Names of persons should be inverted (Last, First), with a space between initials
    • Hierarchical organizations should have a period after each level of the hierarchy (and at the end)
    • Whenever possible/applicable, an authorized form of the name should be used, if available (this is particularly true for government agencies and organizations)
  • Every creator/contributor must include a type and role
  • The primary editor(s)/author(s)/compiler(s) of the issue should be listed as creator(s)
  • In most cases, the first creator is the organization that publishes or sponsors the item
Name: North Texas State Teacher's College
Type: Organization
Role: Author

Name: Perryman, H. A.
Type: Person
Role: Editor
Info: Editor-in-Chief

Name: Kraft, Michelle
Type: Person
Role: Editor
Info: Co-Editor
  • Secondary agents should be listed as contributors, e.g.:
    • section editors
    • funding agencies
    • photographers
    • contributing authors
  • For formal journals, contributing writers are generally listed as contributors (role: author) with the title(s) of their contributions in the Info portion of the field
Name: United States. Department of Agriculture.
Type: Organization
Role: Originator

Name: Klocko, Barbara A.
Type: Person
Role: Author
Info: Designing Sustainable Schools: The Emergent Role of Superintendent as Sensemaker

Name: Marshall, Steve
Type: Person
Role: Other
Info: Business Manager
Common Issues:
If a person named in the item has an ambiguous relationship to the item:
  • Do not include the persons if there does not seem to be an explicable connection (e.g., the executive board of an agency, with no explanation that they contributed to the item)
  • Include the person(s) if there is a reasonable connection, depending on the kind of relationship, e.g.:
    • The director of an agency who has no apparent personal contribution to an agency report: include in the Info field for the agency
    • The director of an agency who has (at least) written an introductory remark/letter/etc.: include as a contributor as an author or author of introduction, etc.
Name: United States. Office of Experiment Stations.
Type: Organization
Role: Author
Info: W. O. Atwater, Director

Name: Cooper, Sam B., III
Type: Person
Role: Author of introduction, etc.
Info: Manager, Purchased Health Services Unit
If the role of persons is vague (e.g., "Contributors"):
  • If a general sense of their contribution can be determined -- e.g., in a magazine or journal, staff are most likely writers/authors -- choose that role and add the statement to the info portion of the field
  • If the role is completely unclear, choose "Other" and add the statement to the info portion of the field
If issues have an extremely large number of contributors (i.e., more than 20), especially with unnamed roles:
  • If some contributors have explicit roles and others do not, only include those with named roles
  • If none of the contributors have named roles (e.g., "Journal staff"): [a] do not include any of the names, [b] include all of the names, or [c] include the first 15-20 contributors only
  • Try to be consistent across a particular publication


  • The publisher is often the same agency listed as the primary creator (or a parent agency)
  • Name formatting and entry should align with Publisher guidelines, e.g.:
    • Hierarchical organizations should have a period after each level of the hierarchy (and at the end)
    • Whenever possible/applicable, an authorized form of the name should be used, if available (this is particularly true for government agencies and organizations)

  • Location names are written out
Name: United States. Government Printing Office.
Location: Washington D.C.

Name: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Location: Austin, Texas
Common Issues:
If the publisher's location is unknown, or unclear: Leave the location portion blank or generalize (e.g., "United States" instead of a city) Name: Brookhaven National Laboratory
Location: United States
If the publisher's location is known, but not printed on the item: Include the location in [square brackets] Name: United States. Patent Office.
Location: [Washington D.C.]


  • Include the publication date of the item
  • Whenever possible, be specific -- include the month/season -- especially for items that have multiple issues per year



Common Issues:
If the issue covers multiple months, seasons, etc.:
  • Most publications will list a specific issue date on the cover or title page, or will have a statement about publication frequency (e.g., "Published quarterly, every February, May, August, and November...") that includes an issuance month; if not:
    • For regularly published journals or magazines, use the first month/date listed for the issue
    • For reports that describe activities, research, or work completed in the timeframe, use a reasonable date just after the report's scope -- e.g., the first month in the next fiscal year, the season after a quarterly report, or the next year for an annual calendar-year report



  • Include the language(s) of the item, chosen from the list

Common Issues:
If the item is in a foreign language not on the list: Choose "Other" and add a Display Note Language: Other
Display Note: Includes passages in Vietnamese.
If the item is in a foreign language and you cannot determine the language: Choose "Other" and add a Display Note Language: Other
Display Note: Language of the text is unknown.


Content Description
  • Generally, the content description will be essentially the same across all records for the publication
  • This is a brief, 1-3 sentence description usually including some combination of:
    • Kind of item/publication
    • Frequency of publication
    • Content/goals of the publication and/or agency
  • Additionally, it may be important to include details about the particular issue, e.g.:
    • Issue theme
    • Page number for an index
    • Specific topics covered
Agency strategic plan for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles describing the organization's planned services, activities, and other goals during fiscal years 2013 through 2017.

Journal published by the Texas State Historical Association containing articles written by members of the Junior Historians about various aspects of Texas history.

Biannual publication "devoted to the rich history of Dallas and North Central Texas" as a way to "examine the many historical legacies--social, ethnic, cultural, political--which have shaped the modern city of Dallas and the region around it." This issue focuses on "Law and Disorder."

Yearbook for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas includes photos of and information about the university, student body, professors, and organizations. Name indexes start on page 314.

Weekly newspaper from Livingston, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with advertising.
Physical Description
  • Follow the guidelines for text and include any known information
  • The general template for text items is: # p : {ill./col. ill./ports./etc.} ; h cm.
254 p. : ill., ports. ; 32 cm.

82 p. ; 23 cm.

12, HC12 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.

53-102 p. : ill ; 28 cm.

[357] p. ; 28 cm.

4 p.
Common Issues:
If the frequency of the publication changes: Change the content description to match, or remove the frequency reference, if it isn't consistent  
If the pages are not numbered or the pagination changes many times: Include the total number of pages in [square brackets] [44] p. ; 25 cm.
If the pages are numbered continuously across each volume:
  • Include a page range instead of a single number of pages for issues that do not start at page "1"
  • Add a Display Note
Physical Description: 60-88 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Display Note: Pagination is continuous across volumes.


  • Add terms that would aid users in finding the items
  • In most cases, there will be a combination of terms that are generally applicable to the entire publication and those that are specific to an issue
  • Some kinds of publications (e.g., annual reports) may tend to only have general terms
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
  • Not required, but can be included if available (e.g., from an OCLC or catalog record)
United States. Bureau of Mines -- Periodicals.

Texas Tech University -- Curricula -- Catalogs.

Texas. Office of Public Insurance Counsel -- Appropriations and expenditures -- Periodicals.

North Texas State University -- Students -- Yearbooks.
University of North Texas Libraries Browse Subjects (UNTL-BS)
  • At least one UNTL-BS term is required for Portal records
  • Choose term(s) that describe the general concept of the entire publication
  • Use terms appropriately, e.g., "State Agencies" would apply to annual reports about an agency, but may not apply to publications issued by that agency on other topics
Government and Law - State Agencies

Business, Economics and Finance - Medicine - Doctors

Education - Colleges and Universities
  • May be general and apply to the entire publication or specific to an individual issue

strategic plans

annual reports

water conservation
Common Issues:
If you cannot find an appropriate UNTL-BS term for a Portal item:
  • Look for a general, top-level term that may be appropriate and then add more specific keywords (or other subject headings)
  • If there is truly no relevant subject, contact metadata administrators about adding a new term
Government and Law

Social Life and Customs


  • When appropriate, add the place(s) that are described in the content
United States - Texas

United States - California - Los Angeles County - Los Angeles
  • If the serial describes a set time, include the single coverage date, or date range
  • Common date ranges for serials:
    • Academic start/end year
    • Fiscal year start/end months or dates
    • Quarterly start/end months or dates
    • Other explicit start/end dates for work completed or data collected
  • Date ranges can also describe the first/last dates covered by the content (e.g., in a journal or magazine)
Coverage Date: 1942/1943

Coverage Date: 1963-09-01/1964-08-31
Time Period
  • For Portal records, add relevant time period(s) that correspond to the content of the item
  • Time period(s) can be included even if specific dates are not listed/uncertain
mod-tim (Into Modern Times 1939-Present)
Common Issues:
If the timeframe is known but ambiguous (e.g., fiscal year 1970):
  • If you can easily find a statement to clarify the dates (or if it is part of a series that has been following the same cycle), include the actual dates
  • If you cannot find any clarification (or if there is reason to think it may have changed), make a reasonable guess and mark one or both of the dates as approximate

    Note: Remember that fiscal/academic years almost always span two calendar years and they are named or identified by when they end (e.g., Academic/FY 2017 starts in fall 2016 and ends in spring or summer 2017)
Coverage Date: 1969-01-01/1970-12-31

Coverage Date: 1969~/1970


  • For some types of serials (especially those that have multiple parts – e.g., volume, issue, etc.), citation segments can be parsed out
  • Each part should go in a separate entry with an appropriate label
Publication Title
  • This is the Serial Title for the item

Las Sabinas

Southwest Retort

Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Include the volume and/or issue number
Volume: 40

Issue: 2
  • These parts can be included for any issues, but is mainly relevant for issues that do not start at page 1:
    • Include the starting and ending page numbers
    • Include the total number of pages
Page Start: 211

Page End: 282

Pages: 72
Common Issues:
If the volume/issue/other numbers are known to be incorrect: Use the correct numbers and ensure that the error has been documented in a Display Note Main Title: Chieftain, Volume [1], Number [2], October 1952

Display Note: "Vol. 30, No. 3."

Volume: 1

Number: 2

Resource Type/Format

  • Choose the most appropriate resource type
Journal/Magazine/Newsletter (text_journal)

Report (text_report)

Yearbook (text_yearbook)

Book (text_book)
  • The format should match the type
Common Issues:
If you are uncertain about the type: Choose the type that most closely matches, based on the glossary


  • Include any known identifiers on the item or from an OCLC/catalog record, e.g.:
    • ISSN
    • OCLC number
    • LCCN
    • Call number
    • SuDOC or TxDOC number
    • Report number
OCLC: 16855105

ISSN: 0038-478X

LCCN: 12-20299

TxDOC: A900.3 ST82
Common Issues:
If you do not have an OCLC record or standard identifiers: Identifiers are not required and not all serials have externally-assigned identifiers (e.g., ISSNs or LCCNs). If there are identifiers on the title or cover page (e.g., report numbers, series numbers, etc.), include those with appropriate labels; otherwise, leave the field blank. Report Number: LF-16


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