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DATE: May 27, 2016

NAME: Punctuation in the MARC 21 Authority format

SOURCE: German National Library

SUMMARY: Libraries from German speaking countries do not provide punctuation when content designation identifies an element sufficiently. This paper proposes coding to indicate the absence of punctuation redundant to field and subfield coding via a Leader position.

KEYWORDS: Punctuation (AD); Leader/18 (AD)

RELATED: 2010-DP01; 2010-07; 2016-DP11

05/27/16 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

06/26/16 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Approved, with the clarification that the coding of punctuation policy in LDR field character position 18 would only refer to end of field and end of subfield punctuation, and not to internal punctuation.

08/10/16 - Results of MARC Steering Group review - Agreed with the MAC decision.

Proposal No. 2016-10: Punctuation in the Authority Format


When four large authority files used in German speaking countries were merged into one "Integrated Authority File" ("Gemeinsame Normdatei" or "GND") in 2012, MARC 21 was chosen as the format for cataloging, with some additions and modifications, based on cataloging traditions in German speaking countries. On the level of the exchange format, librarians have encountered the use of several local fields and subfields. After three years of consolidation, these elements were evaluated to determine their potential appeal as part of the MARC 21 communication standard. The German National Library presented a series of discussion papers during the meetings of the MARC Advisory Committee in January 2016. Based on the valuable discussion, this proposal has been written and is now presented to the MARC Advisory Committee.


In MARC Authority records of the GND the usage of punctuation is restricted in a similar way as it is in MARC Bibliographic records from libraries in German speaking countries: If a field and its subfields identify the single elements of a heading or tracing information sufficiently, punctuation is omitted from the content of the field and its subfields. Inside the content of a subfield punctuation is used if needed.

Instead of headings taken from the Library of Congress Name Authority File:

100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig,‎$d1889-1951

100 0# $aElizabeth‎ $bII ,‎ $cQueen of Great Britain,$d1926-

100 0# $aFrancis,$cPope,$d1936-

we have in the GND:

100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig$d1889-1951

100 0# $aElisabeth$bII.$cGroßbritannien, Königin$d1926-

100 0# $aFranziskus$cPapst$d1936-

To designate this policy in each MARC Authority record of the GND, a solution similar to the one in the MARC Bibliographic format may be chosen. In Leader position 18 "Descriptive cataloging form" a coded value of "c" means "ISBD punctuation omitted":

MARC Bibliographic Format, Leader position 18 - Descriptive cataloging form
# - Non-ISBD
a - AACR 2
c - ISBD punctuation omitted
i - ISBD punctuation included
u – Unknown

Up to now position 18 of the leader in the MARC Authority Format is "Undefined":

18-19 - Undefined character positions
# - Undefined

During the discussion in the meeting of the MARC Advisory Committee in January 2016, concern was expressed that a problem might arise if the authority record contains an RDA flag in field 040 $e (Description conventions) and a code for punctuation policy in LDR 18. The distinction in the MARC Bibliographic format was itself esteemed problematic. If an RDA flag is present in the authority record field 040 $e, then the assumption should be that any punctuation is consistent with that.

There still is some amount of flexibility in formulating headings; they can be RDA compliant, and nevertheless punctuation fully redundant to field and/or subfield coding can be included, or can be omitted.

We propose defining MARC Authority Leader position 18 as:

18 - Punctuation policy

with code values:

# - No information provided
c - Punctuation omitted
i - Punctuation included
u - Unknown


Leader/18 "c"
001 118634313
024 7# $a$2uri
100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludvig$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludovicus$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, L.$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, ...$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig J.$d1889-1951

Leader/18 "c"
001 118529889
024 7# $a$2uri
100 0# $aElisabeth$bII.$cGroßbritannien, Königin$d1926-
400 0# $aElizabeth$bII.$cGreat Britain, Queen$d1926-
400 0# $aElisabeth II.$d1926-
400 0# $aElisabeth II. Königin Elisabeth II$d1926-

Leader/18 "c"
001 1032307897
024 7# $a$2uri
100 0# $aFranziskus$cPapst$d1936-
400 0# $aFranziskus$bI.$cPapst$d1936-
400 0# $aFranciscus$bI.$cPapa$d1936-
400 0# $aFranciscus$cPapa$d1936-
400 1# $aBergoglio, Jorge Mario$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name
400 1# $aBergoglio, Jorge$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name
400 1# $aBergoglio, Georgius Marius$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name


While data in BIBFRAME tends not to include punctuation and leave it open to the cataloger, an indication in the MARC record about punctuation may make it easier to translate the data to MADSRDF and BIBFRAME (titles, name/titles).


In the MARC 21 Authority format, define Leader position 18 as follows:

18 - Punctuation policy

Designates the policy of punctuation that is followed in the record.

# - No information provided
c - Punctuation omitted
i - Punctuation included
u - Unknown

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