This glossary is intended to supplement the glossary in AACR2, Appendix D.  The terms included here are either lacking in AACR2, or, though present there, require some amendment to accommodate these rules to the description of special printed materials.  The definitions marked with an asterisk (*) have been derived from G. Thomas Tanselle’s "The bibliographical concepts of issue and state," in The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 69 (1975), p. 17-66.

Bibliographic description

A set of bibliographic data recording and identifying a publication, i.e., the description that begins with the title proper and ends with the last note.

Broadside; broadsheet

See Single-sheet publication.


A substitution for something originally printed.  Usually applies to leaves but may apply to portions of leaves, pairs of leaves, or entire gatherings.  The replacement leaf, etc., is called the cancel or cancellans (plural cancels or cancellantia).  The original leaf, etc., is variously called the cancelled leaf, the uncancelled leaf (if it is still present), the cancelland, or the cancellandum (plural cancellanda).

Chief title

The distinguishing word or sequence of words that names a publication, as given on the title page (or substitute).  This definition excludes alternative titles, parallel titles, other title information, and subsidiary title information preceding the chief title on the title page, such exclusion resulting usually in a short title.  See also Title proper.


A phrase, sentence, or other text in which the numeric values of certain letters (usually distinguished typographically) express a date when added together.


A printed design, generally symbolic, emblematic, or pictorial rather than textual, used to identify a printer, bookseller, or publisher.  To be distinguished from a logo that renders a name as a stylized, primarily textual design.

Docket title

A title written, typed, or printed on a document, or on a label affixed to the document, briefly indicating its contents or subject.  Usually found perpendicular to the main text, on an otherwise blank page (e.g., the verso of the last leaf), on a document designed to be folded for filing.

* Edition

All copies resulting from a single job of typographical composition.


A group of characters selected from specific locations in the publication, which, when combined with the date of publication, etc., serves to identify a book as having been printed from a certain setting of type.


One or more pairs of leaves—made up of a folded sheet, a fraction of a sheet, or several folded sheets tucked one inside another—that together form a distinct unit for binding purposes.  See also Signature.


A pictorial, diagrammatic, or other graphic representation occurring within a publication, excepting minor decorative elements such as vignettes, head- and tail-pieces, historiated initials, and printers’ ornaments.


All copies produced in the course of one printing event; the term is synonymous with "printing."


1.   A leaf is integral to a gathering if it is conjugate with another leaf in the gathering.

2.   A leaf is integral to a publication if it can be assumed to be present in all copies represented by the bibliographic description.  Leaves added after publication by an owner (e.g., extra-illustrated copies) or by a binder are not considered integral to the publication and thus must be described in local notes.

* Issue

A group of published copies which constitutes a consciously planned publishing unit, distinguishable from other groups of published copies by one or more differences designed expressly to identify the group as a discrete unit.

Leaf of plates

A plate in a publication that also has one or more leaves or pages of text (whether preliminary text or text proper).  Plates may be described in terms of pages of plates if they are numbered as pages or are unnumbered and have illustrative matter on both sides.  See also Plate.


Printing done directly from raised surfaces.  Includes printing done from type, from wood blocks (e.g., woodcuts and wood-engravings), and from metal surfaces designed for relief printing (e.g., stereotypes and electrotypes).


A rectangular section formed by the creases in a single-sheet publication that has been issued folded but is intended to be used unfolded.

Perfect copy

A copy of a publication that is physically complete and correctly arranged, as issued.


A leaf that is chiefly or entirely non-letterpress, or a folded leaf of any kind, inserted with letterpress gatherings of text.  A plate usually contains illustrative matter, with or without accompanying text, but may contain only text (e.g., an engraved title page or a folded letterpress table).  See also Leaf of plates.


A letter, numeral, symbol, or a group of such characters, printed at the foot of the rectos of the first few leaves of an intended gathering for the purpose of aiding binders in correctly assembling the sections.  See also Gathering.

Single-sheet publication

A publication printed on a single or composite piece of paper or other material; it may be printed on one or both sides and may be bound or unbound.  The content of a single-sheet publication, as here defined, is predominantly textual in nature, though it may contain illustrations that are subordinate or coordinate to the text.  (See 5B2 for normally imposed single sheets and 5B14 for single sheets designed to be read unfolded.)

* State

A copy or a group of copies of a printed sheet or a publisher’s casing which differs from other copies (within the same impression or issue) of that sheet or casing in any respect which the publisher does not wish to call to the attention of the public as representing a discrete publishing effort.

Title proper

The chief title of a publication, together with any title information preceding the chief title and any alternative title.  This definition excludes parallel titles and any other title information following the chief title.  See also Chief title.


A copy showing any bibliographically significant difference from one or more other copies of the same edition.  The term may refer to an impression, issue, or state.

See also:

Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books):  Contents