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The physical description of the item in hand, consisting of extent of the item and its dimensions. Use this field for physical details of the item and information concerning accompanying material.

indicators:       both blank

subfields:       $$a - Extent (R)

                      $$b - Other physical details (NR)

                      $$c - Dimensions (R)

                      $$e - Accompanying material (NR)


$$a Extent

punctuation:    This subfield is preceded by no punctuation mark and always begins with an arabic numeral. No abbreviations except for ‘ca.’ and 'ft.'


This subfield is used to record both the extent of the item in hand and the physical shelf-space in linear feet that the item will take up once on the shelf. In order to do both, two subfields are entered for each record. The first $$a records the number of physical volumes, leaves, pages, or items. The second $$a records the linear feet of the item as it will sit on the shelf once it has been end-processed. Do not use subfield $$f (‘type of unit’).Thus: ‘$$a 3 items’ not  ‘$$a 3 $$f  items’. 


First $$a: This is a measure of leaves, pages, items, not folders or boxes. Descriptions of bindings and containers should be entered in a 500 note. Do not add another $$a when entering multiple number sequences (e.g. ‘$$a 4 letters and 1 envelope’ not ‘$$a 4 letters and $$a 1 envelope’).


For bound items other than early manuscripts, we use the style shown in the following examples. If the manuscript is already reasonably correctly foliated or paginated, use that number. Otherwise, if feasible, count the leaves disregarding blanks at front and back. Any large number of blank pages in the manuscript should be counted in the foliation but mentioned as blank in a 500/505 note. Do not use square brackets but rather express in words when numbered and unnumbered leaves are both counted:


300 __ $$a 1 volume (23 leaves)  [Counted or numbered in the original manuscript]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (63 pages) [Pages numbered in the original manuscript]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (ca. 300 leaves) [Leaves difficult or time-consuming to count ]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (numbered leaves 81-149) [Numbered leaves beginning on folio 81]

300 __ $$a 2 volumes (56, 35 leaves) [First volume 56 leaves, second 35 leaves]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (4 unnumbered, 38 numbered pages)   [Denoting 4 unnumbered pages (with significant writing on them; otherwise don’t count) preceding 38 numbered ones. In this case, count the pages, recto 1, verso 2, etc. not leaves]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (2 unnumbered, 17 numbered leaves )  [Denoting 2 unnumbered leaves (with significant writing on them; otherwise they wouldn’t count) preceding 17 numbered ones. In this case, count the leaves not pages]

300 __ $$a 1 volume (10 items)  [For e.g. a volume of letters or tracts]


For unbound items (i.e., where the housing is a matter of end-processing only), other than early manuscripts, follow the examples below.


300 __ $$a 23 leaves [Loose sheets]

300 __ $$a 1 folded sheet [A single folio]    

300 __ $$a 12 leaves in 1 gathering [Leaves sewn or unsewn, with or without a paper cover]

300 __ $$a 3 leaves and 1 envelope  [Single letter]

300 __ $$a 2 items (3; 8 unnumbered leaves) [Two letters. If more than two letters, count total number of leaves]

300 __ $$a 1 drawing


For medieval and renaissance manuscripts count all leaves or sheets before recording the extent. Do not rely upon any numeration present in a manuscript, whether original or added later. Supply any such collation in a 500 note. “Include in the extent original raised flyleaves, original flyleaves used as pastedowns or free-end endpapers, and blanks. Do not include in the total extent canceled leaves, or modern flyleaves and endpapers.” (AMRMM 5B2). The extent is reported using the following style:


300 __ $$a 54 leaves, bound [Single volume of 54 leaves bound in any style, e.g. contemporary or modern]

300 __ $$a 12 leaves, unbound [12 loose leaves]

300 __ $$a 1 leaf [For a single, unfolded loose leaf]

300 __ $$a 1 bifolium [For a manuscript consisting of only two conjugate leaves. If the item is a set of folded leaves, do not describe it as 3 bifolia, rather describe as 6 leaves]

300 __ $$a 2 sheets [Unbound legal document consisting of 2 sheets; legal documents are described in terms of numbers of sheets]

300 __ $$a 4 items (8 sheets) [Several unbound documents with multiple sheets total]

300 __ $$a 1 roll [Manuscript roll. Note: we do not describe the extent of the constituent parts of the roll here but rather in a 500 note if possible/relevant]


Second $$a: This is a measurement of the linear feet of the item as it will sit on the shelf once it has been end-processed. Linear feet is recorded in its own $$a within parentheses. It is preceded by the item-extent $$a with no punctuation between, except in the cases where a parenthetical note has been included in the first $$a, in which case it is preceded by the closed parenthesis. For items that are a few sheets, the measurement entered will depend on how they will be housed. If in a standard pre-fab then enter '.03 linear ft.'; if in single folder in a box with other material, then enter '.02 linear ft.' For all other items, estimate the approximate linear feet by measuring the width of the volume or height of the stack of leaves. Note: 1/4 inch is approximately .02 linear ft.


300 __ $$a 1 volume (23 leaves) $$a (.15 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 1 volume (63 pages) $$a (.2 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 1 volume (ca. 300 leaves) $$a (.4 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 23 leaves $$a (.04 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 1 folded sheet $$a (.03 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 12 leaves in 1 gathering $$a (.02 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 54 leaves, bound $$a (.2 linear ft.)

300 __ $$a 12 leaves, unbound (.03 linear ft.)


$$b Other physical details

 punctuation:  This subfield is preceded by a space and a colon.

This subfield is used to describe further characteristics of an item, such as material on which the item is written if it is other than paper (note: we say ‘vellum’ and do not distinguish parchment), illustrations or included maps.  This subfield is optional, and if used should be brief: you can get discursive in a 500 note. Also be sure to include an 006 for any artwork or map.

As with subfield $$a this subfield should not be used to describe the housing (case, box, etc.) in which the item is kept.


300 __ $$a 1 leaf $$a (.1 linear ft.) : $$b vellum

300 __ $$a 1 drawing $$a (.04 linear ft.) : $$b on slate  


The term “illustrations” should be used in the case of a manuscript in which pictures accompany and illustrate the text (in the fashion of a printed book); and also for a medieval illuminated manuscript where the illumination is actually pictorial. Do no use for head or tail pieces unless these illustrate the text on the page.


300 __ $$a 1 volume (105 pages) $$a (.2 linear ft.) : $$b illustrations


If a single item manuscript includes a manuscript or printed map, it should be listed here.


300 __ $$a 1 volume (12 leaves) $$a (.15 linear ft.) : $$b maps


$$c Dimensions

punctuation:    This subfield is preceded by a space and a semicolon. No abbreviations, but note that "cm" when not followed by a period is not considered an abbreviation but rather a symbol.

This subfield contains the dimensions of the item.

Give the measurement of the item in centimeters rounded up to the next whole centimeter. Never round down, even if the item is only slightly over the centimeter mark. Typically only the height of the item is measured. Bound items should have the binding measured, not the text block.

For both bound and unbound items, include the width in the measurement if it is less than half the height or greater than the height, width follows height in the measurement (i.e., height x width).  If the manuscript is kept folded, add the dimensions when folded (AACR2, 4.5D1). For visual material and for some single leaves, give both height and width in centimeters.  It may also be desirable to record the dimensions of the pictorial area. If there are items of different sizes, use the height or other dimensions of the largest one and add the words ‘or smaller’.

Normally do not record the size of the housing (e.g., a case or pre-fab) of a manuscript here. Do this in a 500 note.


300 __ $$a 2 leaves $$a (.1 linear ft.) : $$b illustrations ; $$c 20 x 35 cm, folded to 20 x 15 cm

300 __ $$a 56 leaves $$a (.2 linear ft.); $$c 28 cm       


These are the dimensions of the leaves, not of the housing.  The latter example is a typescript (8½ x 11 inches).The pre-fab cases used at present are 30 centimeters tall (note: the measurement dividing folio from general material in terms of shelving is 29 centimeters;  so typescripts will generally be fMS. For further information see information on 852.)


300 __ $$a 40 leaves, bound $$a (.2 linear ft.) : $$b vellum, illustrations ; $$c25 cm

300 __ $$a 1 drawing $$a (.04 linear ft.) ; $$c image 16 x 15 cm [dimensions of the image, not the sheet]

300 __ $$a 6 items (.1 linear ft.) ; $$c15 cm or smaller [height of the largest item]


$$e Accompanying material

punctuation: Preceded by a space and a plus sign (‘+’).

This subfield is intended to describe accompanying material other than that listed in the subfield $$a. It is a loose field for single-item manuscripts, but can be useful. It can include note about a seal accompanying a medieval document, or a photograph enclosed with a letter. Use this field for any envelopes accompanying letters.


300 __ $$a 40 leaves, bound $$a (.2 linear ft.) : $$b vellum ; $$c 25 cm + $$e seal

300 __ $$a 3 leaves $$a (.1 linear ft.) ; $$c 14 cm + $$e photograph

300 __ $$a 6 leaves $$a (.1 linear ft.) ; $$ 12 cm + $$ e 2 envelopes


Though not required, this field can also include a parenthetical addition describing the extent or dimensions of the accompanying material.


300 __ $$a 1 volume (56 leaves) $$a (.2 linear ft.) ; $$c 25 cm + $$e photograph (11 x 16 cm)

300 __ $$a 2 volumes (120, 134 leaves) $$a (.4 linear ft.) ; $$c 28 cm or smaller + $$e letter (3 leaves, 14 cm)


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