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This field contains 40 character positions (00-39) that provide coded information about an item.

For fuller specifications of this field see the MARC 21 documentation. The following are the codes to enter in the Books format (which is the standard for a manuscript volume or item). If you have a form other than Books, then character positions 18-34 will be different. Please refer to the MARC 21 documentation for other material forms.      

The MARC 21 standard for a “full level” record requires certain of these character positions (or bytes) to be filled in. The entry for these may be blank, but it cannot be a fill character ( | ).  These positions are shown in bold below


(00-05)  Date entered on file (system-supplied)

(06)       Type of date 

b          B.C. date involved (use 046 field)

i           inclusive dates for a collection. Use this for a group of distinct items, e.g. letters, that are bound together. 

s          single known or probable date

m         multiple dates. Use this for a work that is executed over a period of time that can be specified. This would include a manuscript that contains annotations or additions made    after its first copying.

n          date unknown

q          questionable date. Use this only for a single date that can be narrowed to within a range of years.

(07-10)  Date 1            

(11-14)  Date 2 (if needed)     

The value in (06) and the date(s) in (07-10) and (11-14) are determined by the date in the the $$f subfield of the 245 field. Date 2 is entered only if you have entered “i,” “m,” or “q” in (06).  Enter “u” for uncertain digits in dates. Also use “u” as shown below for an undated item.


245 $$f                           (06)     (07-10)   (11-14)

100 B.C.-100 A.D.             b         blank    blank (add 046 for date)

undated                            n         uuuu     uuuu

1892                                 s         1892     blank

1848, 1892-1896                m        1848     1896 (for an item dated 1848 then annotated 1892-1896—there would also be a 500 note explaining the dates)

1892, 1894, 1900               m        1892     1900 (for a group of 3 letters with these dates)

1920-1932                         i          1920     1932

probably 1892                    s         1892     blank

ca. 1892                            s         1892     blank

1892 and undated               s         1892     blank

after 1875                           s         1875     blank

between 1900 and 1916       q         1900     1916

before 1916                         s         1916     blank

ca. 1640-1649                     s         164u     blank

ca. 1600-1699                     s         16uu     blank


(15-17)  Place of publication, production, or execution.

If the place of writing of the manuscript is explicitly stated, then fill this in using the MARC code list for countries, or if there was more than one place, use  code “vp” ( for various places), or the code “xx^” (“no place, unknown or undetermined”).  If you are making a 500 note on place of writing, be sure the coding here agrees.

(18-21)  Illustrations                       ||||         no attempt to code (i.e., 4 fill characters) 

(22)       Target audience                 blank    unknown or not specified.

(23)       Form of item                     blank    unless the item is a microform, in which case consult MARC21 for coding.

(24-27)  Nature of contents              ||||        no attempt to code (i.e., 4 fill characters)  

(28)      Government publication       blank    not a government publication.

(29)      Conference publication        |           no attempt to code

(30)      Festschrift                         |           no attempt to code

(31)      Index                                 |           no attempt to code

(32)      Undefined

(33)      Literary form                       0          not fiction (not further specified)

                                                            1          Fiction

                                                            d          Dramas

                                                            e          Essays

                                                            f           Novels

                                                            h          Humor, satires, etc.

                                                            i           Letters

                                                            j           Short stories

                                                            m         Mixed forms

                                                            p          Poetry

                                                            s           Speeches

                                                            u          Unknown

                                                            |           no attempt to code

Notice that for some of these choices, there will be a corresponding 655 field.

(34)       Biography                  blank     No biographical material

                                                     a          Autobiography

                                                     b          Individual biography

                                                     c          Collective biography

                                                     d          Contains biographical information

                                                     |           no attempt to code


Note:  Many Houghton records have “|” in the (33) and (34) bytes with no attempt to code.


(35-37)  Language

A 3-letter code for the main language of the item, for example:

eng   English

grc    ancient Greek

und   undetermined

zxx    no linguistic content.


For a complete list of codes, see MARC.


(38)  Modified record           blank    Not modified

(39)  Cataloging source       d          Other


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