Determining the preferred source of information is the next step in the process of cataloging a serial-after identifying the resource to be a serial and finding the earliest or lowest-numbered part. The preferred source is generally the most prominent source on the serial and the source from which a user would be most likely to cite the serial, such as a title page or cover. The preferred source is often important in determining the preferred title for a serial work (RDA The preferred source is also important for cooperative serials cataloging because other catalogers will use and update the record based on the title taken from the preferred source. Knowing the issue used as the basis for identification and the exact source on that issue may help in determining whether the serial in hand is the same as the one described in the record and whether the title has changed or just varies on another issue.

The preferred source is the page or area from which the title is transcribed. Therefore, selecting the preferred source and selecting the title are two decisions that go hand-in-hand. The preferred source of information depends on both the type of description and the presentation format of the resource (RDA However, at this time, the CONSER database only includes comprehensive (whole-serial) descriptions, not analytic descriptions (e.g., columns or articles within a serial). So "type of description" is not a consideration.

In considering the presentation format, the first question to ask is "What is considered part of the resource?" Since CONSER focuses on comprehensive descriptions, the answer to this is: (1) the medium used to store the content (e.g., pages of a print serial), (2) the housing for the resource (e.g, the CD-ROM disc), (3) the container (e.g., jewel case for a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM), and (4) accompanying material.

For serials with pages or images of pages (e.g., PDF, HTML, microform sheets or reels), RDA instructs the cataloger to select the title page as the preferred source, and if there is no title page, to select a title page substitute, with a specified order of preference. For more information about title page substitutes, see CCM 3.2.2 below. For information about analyzable serials, see CCM 3.2.1 under "Series".

Regardless of whether the title comes from one of these sources or from a title page substitute, CONSER practice is to explicitly state the source of title (LC-PCC PS 2.20.2). This note and the "Description based on" note (see CCM 3.1.1) are usually combined.

The discussions in CCM 3.2.1 through CCM 3.2.4 focus on print textual serials. Information regarding sources for other types of serials may be found in CCM Part III. Special Types of Continuing Resources.

3.2.1.  Title page

The title page, when there is one, is used as the chief source of information ( FN1).  Therefore, it is important to know what is and is not considered to be a title page.  The first part of the RDA definition for a title page reads:

A page at the beginning of an item bearing the title proper and usually, though not necessarily, the statement of responsibility and the data relating to publication.

Some pages obviously are title pages, others obviously are not title pages, and in between there is a wide range of possibilities that keep catalogers guessing!  To determine whether what you have is or is not a title page, consider the following guidelines.

a.  A title page is:

A page that contains the title of the serial.  If there is more than one page that gives the title, the title page is generally the one that also includes responsible bodies, place and name of publisher, and/or the designation of the issue.  A page can be a title page, however, when there is nothing on it but the title, even when another source, such as the cover, contains more information.  Title pages are most frequently found in serials that are issued annually or less frequently, as opposed to periodicals and newsletters.  The title page may follow many pages of advertising, particularly in European serials and directories.

Publications such as annual reports, directories, indexes, statistical summaries, and so forth generally have title pages.


Figure 3.2. represents a typical serial title page with the title at the top, the designation in the middle, and the publishing information at the foot of the page.


In Figure 3.3a. the cover contains the title and the issuing agency.  The cover is followed by a page that contains only the title (Figure 3.3b.), which differs slightly.  The page that contains only the title is considered to be the title page because the title is the only information required.


245 00 $a New Jersey building permits.



b.  A title page is not:

A page that contains text, tables of contents, or extensive editorial information, i.e., a page that has been designed to fulfill a different function ( FN2).  The editorial page following the cover in most periodicals is not considered to be a title page.  Note:  The presence of contents or editorial information on a page does not preclude that page from being selected as the title page substitute when there is no true title page or a title page substitute given earlier in the list of preferred substitutes.


The page in Figure 3.4. follows the cover.  It has not been chosen as the chief source because it contains a significant amount of data that would normally be given elsewhere.


In Figure 3.5a., the cover contains the contents of the serial while the page following (Figure 3.5b.) is the editorial page.  In this situation, the cover is chosen as the title page substitute.

245 00 $a Cell growth & differentiation.

500 ## $a Title from cover.


If a page that appears in the traditional layout of a title page contains only the name of a corporate body, and a true title is given prominently elsewhere (e.g., cover, spine, etc.), do not consider the page containing only the corporate body to be a title page.  If, however, there is no title found prominently in another source, the page is considered to be the title page and the corporate body is given as the title proper and a brief title is supplied as other title information.  (See also CCM 6.1.8.)


In Figure 3.6., the page that follows the cover looks like a title page but in fact does not contain the title.  Because there is a title on the cover, Annual Report, the cover is used as the title page substitute.

110 2# $a Wool and Allied Textile Employers' Council. $b Management Services Centre.

245 10 $a Annual report / $c the Wool and Allied Textile Employers' Council, Management Services Centre.

500 ## $a Description based on: 16th (1969); title from cover.


c.  When in doubt:

Consider the layout of the page and the amount of "other" information.  The most common problem occurs when a page "looks" like a title page (i.e., it contains the title, publisher, designation, etc. arranged in a format that is traditional for title pages) but also contains some editorial or contents information.  Do not reject a page as a title page simply because there is a small amount of editorial or contents information on it if it has the overall appearance of being a title page–and there is no other "true" title page in the issue.

The page in Figure 3.7b. contains all the traditional title page information but also contains the masthead and copyright statement.  The cover, Figure 3.7a., contains the contents.  In this case, since the titles are the same on both sources, it is best to select the cover as a title page substitute, since the other page contains information that would not normally be found on a title page.  Notice also that the acronym, JEOR, appears only on the cover.

245 04 $a The journal of essential oil research : $b JEOR.

246 30 $a JEOR

500 ## $a Title from cover.


Figure 3.8. is an example of a situation where the choice of chief source makes a difference.  On each issue, the page following the cover contains enough additional information to cause doubt as to whether it should be treated as a title page.  However, the title on this page remains constant, while the title on the cover changes.  To avoid a title change, the cataloger has considered the page following the cover to be the title page and chief source.  This was possible because both issues were in hand at the time of cataloging.  (See also Figure 3.12.)

245 00 $a Mississippi agricultural statistics through ...

246 14 $a Agricultural statistics, Mississippi $f 1966


d.  Series

When cataloging a series as a whole, the chief source is the series title page, which AACR2 defines as:

An added title page bearing the series title proper and usually, though not necessarily, other information about the series.

If there is no series title page, see 3.2.2.


3.2.2.  Title page substitutes

When the serial does not have a title page, as is often the case, choose another source containing the title as the "title page substitute."  Instructions in RDA provide orders of preference based on media/carrier:

For resources with pages, leaves, sheets or cards (or images of these), the title page substitute is (in this order): the cover or jacket; the caption; the masthead; the colophon; some other source with formally-presented information; or another source within the resource that has a title. [RDA].  Types of title page substitutes

a.  Analytic title page

The analytic title page is the title page of an individual work in a series; it carries the title of the work and may include the title of the series.  RDA does not specifically refer to analytic title pages in RDA However, if CONSER catalogers do not consider the analytic title page, then monographic catalogers applying RDA will sometimes have a different preferred title than serials catalogers applying RDA This, in turn, will affect the work authorized access point in series authority records for works created after 1500 (RDA Therefore, CONSER catalogers cataloging analyzable serials should consider RDA "title page" to include series title page; or if there is no series title page, the analytic title page. That is, the analytic title page should be chosen as the preferred source for the series when there is no separate series title page (see CCM 3.2.1d) and the series is included on the analytic title page.

b.  Cover

The cover is one of the most frequently used title page substitutes.  The cover may be hard-bound; if not it is generally, but not necessarily, heavier quality paper than the rest of the serial.  While most annuals and periodicals have covers, periodicals are the more likely to have the cover be the title page substitute.

On some publications the cover is cut to reveal either the entire title or part of the title.  If the entire title is contained on the inner page, consider that page to be the chief source.  If, however, the title spans both the cover and inner page, consider both pages to comprise the chief source of information.  In this case, give a "Title from cover" note.  This situation frequently occurs with publications whose title proper consists of a common title plus a section title on specific topics.  The publisher uses the same cover with the common title and includes only the section title and perhaps the issue designation on the inner page.  There are, of course, many other variations!


In Figure 3.10., The title Hobby/Model Construction Supplies Retail appears on the page following the cover and constitutes a section title.


245 08 $a The ... directory. $p Hobby/model construction supplies retail.

500 ## $a Title from cover.


c.  Caption


The caption is the area just above the beginning of the text that contains the title and sometimes the designation and issuing body.  The caption is most often used as the title page substitute for newsletters, which often lack a cover or title page.  (Figure 3.11.)  The equivalent area on a newspaper is called the "banner."


d.  Masthead

The masthead is the statement of title, ownership, editors, etc.  It is most frequently found in periodicals and newsletters and generally appears on the editorial or contents page.  Mastheads may also appear at the end of the publication in some serials.  In many cases, the ISSN also appears with the title in the masthead.  This information is frequently boxed to separate it from the remainder of the information on the page.  While the masthead is often referred to when verifying the title, it is used as the title page substitute only in the absence of the title page, cover, and caption.  The equivalent area on a newspaper is sometimes called the "publisher's block."


e.  Editorial pages

Editorial pages are most frequently found in periodicals.  In addition to bearing a masthead, as described above, the editorial pages may also contain the title, usually at the head of the page.  The editorial pages may contain the contents of the issue and abstracting and indexing services that cover the serial, in addition to the list of editors and people responsible for the serial.  Like the masthead, the editorial page is rarely chosen as the chief source of information.


f.  Colophon

The colophon is chosen as the chief source for some oriental non-roman language serials, as described in RDA, when full bibliographic information is contained in the colophon and the page given in the normal position for a title page contains only the title or less complete information.


g.  Other pages

Failing a title page or any of the other above-mentioned sources, use any other page that bears the title as the title page substitute.  If the title appears nowhere in the item, see CCM 3.2.5 below.


3.2.3.  Retrospective cataloging  (LC-PCC PS 2.2.2)

If the cataloger has a single issue in hand with different titles represented on various sources, but a less-preferred source is known to be the stable title, then the cataloger may use the less-preferred source as the title page substitute.

If several issues are in hand and one source has a more stable or complete title than another and there is no true title page, the cataloger may choose the source with the stable title as the chief source rather than following the preferred order, provided that doing so would not result in cancelling existing records.

In Figure 3.12., there is no true title page.  While the cover is the preferred title page substitute, in this case, the page containing the caption title is a better choice because the title remains constant on this source.

110 2# $a Jörg Weigelt Auktionen (Firm)

245 10 $a Plakate / $c Jörg Weigelt Auktionen.

246 14 $a Wirkungsvolle Plakate $f 1


3.2.4.  Multiple pages containing the title

When there is more than one "true" title page in a serial, decide which will be the chief source, or in some cases use both (see below).

a.  Title on facing pages

If the title and other bibliographic details stretch over two pages, both pages are considered to be the chief source (RDA glossary, definition of title page).

b.  Title pages in different languages

Some serials have multiple title pages which represent the same information given in different languages.  The title pages may face each other or appear at opposite ends of the publication ( FN3).  Choose one as the chief source; record the other(s) as an "added title page title" (see Module 7).

RDA (plus instructs as follows:

If the bibliographic resource contains written, spoken, or sung words for which there are sources of information in more than one language or script, prefer (in this order):

a)  the source in the language or script of the written, spoken, or sung words if there is only one such language or script or only one predominant language or script.

b)  the source in the original language or script of the resource if the words are in more than one language or script, unless translation is known to be the purpose, in which case use the source in the language of the translation.

c)  the source in the language or script that occurs first in the following list:  English, French, German, Spanish, Latin, any other language using the roman alphabet, Greek, Russian, any other language using the Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew, any other language using the Hebrew alphabet, any other languages.

When applying category b, consider the language of the country of publication to be the original language if the country has one official language.  If the country has more than one official language, apply category c.  Thus, a publication in Arabic and English that is published in Cairo would be cataloged from the Arabic title page (category b), because Arabic is the only official language of Egypt.  A publication in English and French published in Ottawa would be cataloged from the English title page (category c), because both English and French are official languages in Canada ( FN4).

When the item is a bilingual dictionary or other work not involving "original language" or translation, or it is a work that does not contain words (e.g., some music), follow additional instruction from LCRI 1.0A3 and "select the source in the language or script of the issuing body" as chief source of information.

c.  Multiple works in one issue with no collective title page

This situation rarely occurs in serials.  Following RDA, use all title pages as a single chief source and record each title (see CCM 6.1.4.).

3.2.5.  Other types of pages that contain the title

Following are further sources sometimes found in serials that bear the title but that are not generally used as the chief source of information ( FN5).

a.  Half title page

The "half title page" is a page containing the title that precedes the title page.  In most cases, the title is the only information given.  Since, by definition, there must be a title page in order for the half title page to exist, the half title would never be the chief source.  The half title may be referred to, however, when determining the title of the publication.  (Figure 3.13.)


b.  Volume title page

Some publishers issue a separate title page when a complete volume has been issued so that this page can become the title page of the bound volume.  The volume title page usually has inclusive numbers and dates, such as Volume 36, 1986.

The volume title page is not usually used as the chief source because RDA requires cataloging a serial from the first or earliest available issue (RDA  Cataloging from the volume title page also has a number of practical drawbacks.  A completed volume has to be in hand before the publication can be cataloged (providing that the cataloger knows such a title page will be issued).  Use of the volume title page might result in recataloging if the title on the volume title page differs from that of the first issue.  If the title changes within the volume, the volume title page will probably only reflect one of the titles, in most cases the latest.  Moreover, the designation given on the volume title page does not reflect any one issue, but instead, that of the entire volume.

On some older bound or microfilmed serials the individual title pages have been removed, leaving only the volume title page.  In this case, the volume title page may be used as the chief source.  If there has been a title change within the volume, take the title from any source within the first issue, when possible, so that the title reflects the serial as issued.  When cataloging from the volume title page, give a "Description based on" note ( FN6) with a source of title note, as follows:

500 ## $a Description based on: Vol. 1 (1943); title from volume t.p.


This is a made up example, but it illustrates the type of numbering that is commonly found on the volume title page as opposed to that found on the individual issue.  Often the issue would not have a title page.


3.2.6.  Items lacking a chief source of information

If there is no title page or other page that can be used as a title page substitute, take the title from the content of the item or any other published source (RDA, RDA 2.2.4).  If the title is supplied from a source outside the resource, either give the title in brackets or enter the source in a note (combined with the 588 "Description based on" note) (RDA 2.2.4, RDA 2.20.2).  Supplying the title from other sources is necessary for older serials when the title pages have been torn off, or for bound volumes when the covers have been removed in the process of binding (see also CCM 3.2.5.b. above).

See also:

Module 3.  Chief Source and Other Sources of Information