MARC 300 Physical Description

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MARC field 300 in the bibliographic format contains physical description of the described item, including its extent, dimensions, and other physical details, such as the presence and type of illustrations, description of any accompanying materials, and unit type and size. This field is repeatable.

Basic use and searching

Basic use

  • [Brief instructions]


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Commonly-used tags



Subfield delimiters

ǂa Extent

ǂb Other physical details

ǂc Dimensions and bibliographic format

  • Give height of binding or container in centimeters, rounding up to the next centimeter
  • Also give width, if
    • item is in single, unbound sheets
    • item is wider than it is high
    • item's height is at least twice its width
  • Give bibliographic format in parentheses after the dimensions , if
    • it is a printed textual item from the hand-press period (before 1830 or so); consult supervisor if necessary for confident determination
    • it is a printed textual item from the machine-press period (after 1830 or so), and format can be confirmed by visible sewing at the center of gatherings
      • presence of signatures without confirmation of sewn gatherings does not bestow sufficient confidence for identification of format
      • beware publisher's identification of format, which is usually based on size rather than being an expression of how the original sheet was imposed and folded
  • Bibliographic format is defined as the proportion of a leaf after cutting, folding, &c., to the original sheet of paper; therefore, a single sheet that is 1/2 (or 1/4, &c.) the size of the original sheet is still a folio (4to, &c.). Take note that the English short title catalogue uses proportional fractions for single sheets and a degree sign to represent bibliographic format. (Do not emulate this practice.)
  • Common bibliographic format abbreviations (see DCRM(B) / RDA for a more complete list)
    • (full-sheet)
    • (fol.) [RDA = (folio)]
    • (4to)
    • (oblong 4to) [common in scores]
    • (8vo)
    • (12mo)
    • (long 12mo)
    • (16mo)
    • (18mo)
    • (24mo)
    • (long 24mo)
  • Make a note about anomalous characteristics of format; for example
    • for hand-press items, if chainlines run in the opposite direction because the paper came from a head-to-tail double mold
    • for machine-press items, if signatures and actual gatherings (as determined by visible sewing) do not correspond

ǂe Accompanying material

ǂ3 Materials specified


300 __ |a [8], 137, [5], 138-214, 216-244, 244-273 leaves ; |c 29 cm (fol.) 

See also

External links