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Creating An Annotation

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Style and Presentation—Subtitles

Consider the subtitle as another title; the same rules for capitalization and punctuation apply as for titles.


Glory Enough for All: The Battle of the Crater; a Novel of the Civil War (Note that the article following the semicolon is lowercase; see the next section)

Walter Winchell: A Novel (retained because the book could easily be mistaken for a biography without the subtitle)

Punctuation between title and subtitle

A colon is used to separate title and subtitle in most cases. Place the colon directly after the title; leave one space before the subtitle.

Because the colon indicates the beginning of a subtitle, colons should not be used elsewhere in the title or subtitle. If a colon appears elsewhere on the title page, change the punctuation to a comma or semicolon as appropriate. Do not uppercase articles or prepositions that follow; capitals for initial words are used only to indicate a title or subtitle.

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge; a Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Note that the indefinite article, a, after the semicolon is lowercase.)

Titles within subtitles

NLS practice is essentially the same as for titles within titles: treat the subtitle as a second title and italicize or underscore all titles regardless of whether they would take italics or quotes in text. For subtitles, all short story or novella titles are italicized, because they cannot also be the title of the book.

Stories of the Early West: The Luck of Roaring Camp and Sixteen Other Exciting Tales of Mining and Frontier Days

Eda LeShan on Living Your Life: Based on the CBS Radio Network Series Getting Along

The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult; a Meditation on Life, Spirit, Art, and the Making of the Film The Color Purple Ten Years Later

Victorian Villainies: The Great Tontine, The Rome Express, In the Fog, The Beetle

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon: My Father's Dragon; Elmer and the Dragon; The Dragons of Blueland (For the last two examples, the listed stories explain the title. The need for italics would be obvious if the and that is understood between the last two titles were actually present.)

Series name as subtitle

For our readers, it is useful to list series names as subtitles, because they then appear in author and title indexes for easy identification. Handling style practices for these books is difficult, since publishers indicate series differently and not always in the same way for titles in the same series. Practices listed are designed to give patrons useful information in a consistent format and where it can be easily located.

If a book is known to be part of a series, such information should appear as a subtitle even if the information does not appear on the title page; generally it will appear on the book jacket, on the verso title page, or in a list of other books by the author. This practice includes both series presented sequentially and those that feature a particular character or group but can be read in any order. It does not include a publisher's series such as Great Books of the World.

Doom of the Darksword: The Darksword Trilogy,Volume 2

Donovan's Daughter: The Californians, Book 4

Darkness and Light: Dragonlance Saga; Preludes,Volume 1

Prisoner's Base: A Nero Wolf Mystery

Mischief: An 87th Precinct Mystery

Thomas Jefferson: The Formative Years, 1743-1775; Founding Fathers Series,Volume 6

Montana! Wagons West, Volume 10 (Note that the exclamation point is sufficient for separation, and the colon is not used.)

Series name as title

In some cases, the series name is used as the title for all volumes and information about the particular volume becomes the subtitle.

The Life of Langston Hughes:Volume 1, 1902-1941; I, Too, Sing America


Frequently, series information is inconsistent for individual volumes. Some volumes, usually the first one or two in the series, may not have a series title; others may have a variety of forms.

For consistency, a form (or variation on that form) should be established. Often several books in a series will have been produced and cataloged before the need for a consistent form becomes apparent.

Subtitles determined for use in book announcements after some volumes have been produced should be added to the database for use in subsequent publications.

The Summer of the Danes: The Eighteenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at Shrewsbury (subtitle from the book jacket). The title page does not list a series title; the also by page identifies these books as the Brother Cadfael Chronicles, and further confuses by listing them in random order.

This popular series is troublesome. The most common form is

(title): The (number) Chronicle of Brother Cadfael but the first few titles weren't numbered, and some volumes later in the series also don't list numbers. The common form should be used when the number is listed or can be determined by placement in the series. Otherwise an alternate form resembling that would be

(title): A Chronicle of Brother Cadfael

The additional information on the book jacket should not be used. It is not consistent with other titles, adds little information, and takes up space better used for the annotation.

Series titles in text

Occasionally a series title is used in the annotation text rather than as a subtitle. This generally occurs when the first one or two volumes have appeared without a series identification and this one purports to be the last. For series titles in text, lowercase any initial article and use roman type.


For series that should be read sequentially, NLS practice is to indicate in the annotation text the title the current book follows: "In this sequel to A Boy's War (RC 43286)" or "This sequel to Daughters of Albion (RC 35723) opens in the mid-1960s." The current volume could also precede a previous title and be listed as "Prequel to Becoming a Man (RC 41664)," if written after the previous title, or "Followed by Becoming a Man (RC 41664)," if simply produced later by NLS to fill in a gap. In these cases the series subtitle should not be included in the text.

Note that the book number is always listed so that patrons know what to order. Only books in the collection and produced in the same format as the current title are mentioned as cross references.

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Posted on 2014-12-02