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MODS User Guidelines (ver. 3) Home » Top-level Elements and Attributes » Top-level Element:<physicalDescription>

Top-level Element: <physicalDescription>

Element <physicalDescription>
Definition Describes the physical characteristics of the resource.
Attributes

Common:

Language-related: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration

Internal Linking: altRepGroup

External Linking: xlink; ID

Miscellaneous: displayLabel

Specific: typeURI

Subelements <form> <reformattingQuality> <internetMediaType> <extent> <digitalOrigin> <note>
Examples EXAMPLES
Mappings MAPPINGS

Guidelines for Use

<physicalDescription> is a container element for subelements used for the physical description of the resource. It is not necessary to include a full <physicalDescription> for every version of a resource known to exist; choose carefully which versions and elements are important. The examples given in these guidelines represent a sample of the types of data which may be important to expose. Repeating this element is not recommended.

Specific Attribute Information

typeURI

Definition
xxx
Application
xxx

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Subelement: <form>

Definition A particular physical presentation of a resource, including the physical form or medium of material for a resource.
Attributes

Common:

Authority: authority; authorityURI; valueURI

Language-related: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration

Specific: type

Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

Record the form of the digitized and analog original resources if such information will be useful. The <form> element should be used to characterize the resource; use <genre> for that.

Either a term from a controlled vocabulary, or free text, may be used.

Specific Attribute Information

type

Definition
May be used to specify, for example, whether the form concerns materials or techniques, e.g.:
<form type="material">oil paint</form>
<form type="technique" valueURI="http://vocab.getty.edu/aat/300054216">painting (image-making)</form>
A list of possible authorities is available at Genre/Form Code and Term Source Codes maintained by the Library of Congress.
URIs identifying authorities may or may not be dereferenceable to human- or machine-readable information on the authority file, controlled vocabulary, or thesaurus.

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Subelement: <reformattingQuality>

Definition An overall assessment of the intended use, limitations, and quality of an electronic resource.
Attributes None
Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

If the resource serves more than one purpose, the element may be repeated.

The following values may be used:

  • access – The electronic resource is intended to support current electronic access to the original item (i.e., reference use), but is not sufficient to serve as a preservation copy.
  • preservation – The electronic resource was created via reformatting to help preserve the original item. The capture and storage techniques ensure high-quality, long-term protection.
  • replacement – The electronic resource is of high enough quality to serve as a replacement if the original is lost, damaged, or destroyed.

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Subelement: <internetMediaType>

Definition The electronic format type, or the data representation, of the resource.
Attributes

Common:

Language-related: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration

Specific: None

Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

<internetMediaType> specifies the electronic format type, such as text/html, ASCII, Postscript file, executable application, or JPEG image. The value is generally taken from a controlled list, especially from the Internet Media types (MIME types).

If a digital resource comprises multiple file types (for example, a diary that has been imaged and a text transcription made available), use a separate <internetMediaType> subelement for each.

The element may also include local x-types.

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Subelement: <extent>

Definition A statement about the physical extent of the resource, in terms of units of measurement and material.
Attributes

Common:

Language-related: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration

Miscellaneous: supplied

Specific: unit

Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

<extent> may be used with electronic resources, e.g. for digitized collection of slides, to show how many slides constitute the resource.

Specific Attribute Information

unit

Definition
Indicates the unit of measurement (e.g. inches, cm, grams, litres, minutes) for the value(s) in the <extent> element.
Application
This attribute is used to provide more information regarding extent by separating out unit type.

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Subelement: <digitalOrigin>

Definition The method by which a resource achieved digital form. (May indicate the source of a digital file, which is important to its creation, use, and management.)
Attributes None
Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

The following values may be used:

  • born digital – A resource was created and is intended to remain in digital form.
  • reformatted digital – A resource was created by digitization of the original which was in a non-digital form (except original microforms).
  • digitized microfilm – A resource was created by digitizing a microform.
  • digitized other analog – A resource was created by digitizing an intermediate form of the original resource (but not microform) such as photocopy, transparency, slide, 2nd generation analog tapes, etc.

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Subelement: <note>

Definition General textual information about the physical description of a resource.
Attributes

Common:

Language-related: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration

Miscellaneous: displayLabel

Specific: type

Subelements None

Guidelines for Use

Use for information relating to the physical description of a resource that does not fit in one of the other available subelements. Documentation on material and technique used for works of art and similar materials may be recorded here.

A link may be supplied (via XLink) in lieu of or in addition to the <note> content.

<note> may be repeated.  

Specific Attribute Information

type

Definition
Provides contextual information to further categorize the note information.
Application
This attribute is not controlled by a list and thus is open-ended. See MODS <note> Types for a list of physical description-related note types that have been used by MODS implementers.

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EXAMPLES

<physicalDescription>
<note type="organization">Fixed-length, nonhierarchical; Month by carrier code and flight number</note>
</physicalDescription>
<physicalDescription>
<extent>7" x 9"</extent>
<note displayLabel="Location within resource">Between entry for April 7 and April 19, 1843</note>
</physicalDescription>
<physicalDescription>
<form authority="marcform">print</form>
<extent>ill., music ; 26 cm</extent>
<reformattingQuality>replacement</reformattingQuality>
</physicalDescription>
<physicalDescription>
<extent>1 sound disc (56 min.) : digital ; 3/4 in.</extent>
</physicalDescription>
<physicalDescription>
<extent unit=”pages”>12</extent>
</physicalDescription>

For a digitized photograph:

<physicalDescription>
<form authority="smd">photoprint</form>
<form authority="marcform">electronic</form>
<reformattingQuality>access</reformattingQuality>
<internetMediaType>image/jpeg</internetMediaType>
<extent>1 photograph</extent>
<digitalOrigin>reformatted digital</digitalOrigin>
</physicalDescription>

For a diary that has been imaged and for which a text transcription has been made:

<physicalDescription>
<form authority="marcform">electronic</form>
<form authority="marcform">print</form>
<internetMediaType>image/jpeg</internetMediaType>
<internetMediaType>text/xml</internetMediaType>
<extent>177 p.</extent>
<digitalOrigin>reformatted digital</digitalOrigin>
</physicalDescription>

For a learning web site:

<physicalDescription>
<form authority="marcform">electronic</form>
<internetMediaType>image/jpeg</internetMediaType>
<internetMediaType>text/html</internetMediaType>
<extent>5 digital files</extent>
<digitalOrigin>born digital</digitalOrigin>
</physicalDescription>

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MAPPINGS

MARC Mapping (Bibliographic)

See MARC Mapping to MODS for the <physicalDescription> element.

Dublin Core Mapping

See MODS to Dublin Core Metadata Element Set Mapping.

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Last Updated: August 10, 2020