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Source of Title Note for Internet Resources

Third Revision

Created by the Subcommittee on the Source of Title Note for Internet Resources
Cataloging Policy Committee
Online Audiovisual Catalogers, Inc.

1. Purpose and Scope of This Document


  • AACR2 requires a Source of title proper note in all records for remote access electronic resources (9.1B2, 9.7B3, 12.7B3)
  • AACR2 does not prescribe a set of terms to use in this note, nor is there any other current publication (at the time of this writing) from an authoritative source such as ALA, LC, OCLC, etc. that includes a recommended list of terms for this note.
  • AACR2 and some other publications do include terms used in examples, but none of these are prescriptive, none are designated as recommended, and they are not consistent with one another.

    Purpose of this document

  • The purpose of this document is to address this situation, for the sake of greater consistency in cooperative cataloging and record sharing, by providing:
    • a brief selected list of terms commonly used for source of title and a definition of each
    • a clarification of common sources and which of these commonly-used terms refer to the same source
    • best practice recommendations for selection of terms for the most common situations
    • graphical examples of common situations with relevant MARC fields
  • This document is intended to serve as a recommended best practice guide for the general Anglo-American cataloging community by an organization that specializes in electronic (and other non-book) resource cataloging
  • Note: this document serves as only a general rough guide for a handful of the most common source of title situations; it cannot begin to comprehensively cover all situations; catalogers must exercise their own best judgment as to how to indicate the source of title in a multitude of particular situations.  Arguably the greatest variety and ambiguity lies in how to cite the two most common sources of titles on Web pages: the title displayed at the top of the page and the source code title displayed in the browser title bar.  This document seeks particularly to address this situation, and does not attempt to give an exhaustive list of all possible sources or situations.  For online serials, this document includes examples from the CONSER Cataloging Manual and does not attempt to further define or prescribe usage for online serial cataloging.

    History of this document

  • The first version of this document was published online on the OLAC CAPC Web site on January 8, 2001 and was authored by Marcia Barrett as the final report of the CAPC Subcommittee on Source of Title Note for Internet Resources, which she chaired.
  • In June of 2001, Iris Wolley worked through the document and made a few minor revisions, including the notation of broken links to URLs used as examples.
  • In spring, 2005, a reconstituted Subcommittee consisting of Steven Miller (chair), Greta de Groat, and Susan Leister, did a substantial update of the document, taking into account the major 2001 and 2002 revisions to AACR2 for electronic and integrating resources. Their work resulted in a temporary working "Second Revision" of the document, and then a final Third Revision, which was published online via the CAPC Web site on June 29, 2005.

    Sources consulted


2. Titles for Internet Resources: Primary Rules and Concepts

Chief source of information and source of title

  • AACR2 9.0B1. Chief source of information for electronic resources.
    • The chief source of information for electronic resources is the resource itself. 
    • Take the information from formally presented evidence, e.g.:
      • title screen(s), main menus, program statements, initial display(s) of information, home page(s), the file header(s) including "Subject:" lines, encoded metadata (e.g., TEI headers, HTML/XML meta tags), ..., including information that has been uncompressed, printed out, or otherwise processed for use.
    • If the information in these sources varies in degree of fullness, prefer the source that provides the most complete information.
  • AACR2 12.0B1. Basis of the description for continuing resources.
    • a) Serials.
      • Base the description of a serial on the first issue or part, or, lacking this, on the earliest available issue or part. 
      • Generally prefer the first (or earliest) issue or part over a source associated with the whole serial or with a range of more than one issue or part.
    • b) Integrating resources.
      • Base the description of an integrating resource, except the beginning date of publication, on the current iteration of that resource.

Granularity of Web resources and selection of title

  • Multi-page Web sites usually consist of multiple, nested granular levels (often evident in the URL by forward slash marks). 
  • Catalogers must select one level for cataloging, and select the title (245) that applies to the resource at the level selected for description.
  • The URI entered into the first 856 field with second indicator 0 (zero) is generally the electronic address of the level selected for cataloging of monographic and integrating resources, and the Web page at that address is the most common source of the title for monographic and integrating resources.

Variations in title

  • Internet resources frequently display more than one form of title.  Catalogers should be liberal in making notes and added entries for variant forms of title. 
    • For example, if the title displayed at the top of a home page differs from the title in the HTML header that displays in the browser title bar, whichever one is not selected as title proper for the 245 field should generally be included in a 246 field.
  • Recall that AACR2 chapters 1-12 give rules for notes for title variants and that chapter 21 gives rules for added entries for title variants.
  • Recall also that the MARC 246 field can be used for either notes or added entries or for both simultaneously, depending on the value of the first indicator.

Source of Title Proper note and Item Described note

  • AACR2 prescribes that for remote access electronic resources, catalogers always give notes stating:
    1. the source of title proper (9.1B2, 9.7B3).
    2. the date on which the resource was viewed for description (9.7B22; see also 12.7B23).
  • These two notes may given separately, as in the following AACR2 examples:
    • Title from title screen [taken from 9.7B3]
    • Description based on contents viewed Sept. 16, 1998. [taken from 9.7B22]
  • Or these two notes may be combined into one note, as in the following AACR2 examples:
    • Title from Web page (viewed on May 29, 1999).  [taken from 9.7B3]
    • Title from title bar (viewed on Jan. 13, 2000).  [taken from 12.7B23b]
  • All but one example in AACR2 uses the phrase "viewed on," while one AACR2 example and the examples given in the CONSER Cataloging Manual 31.3.4 use simply "viewed."  
  • The examples in this CAPC document include the "viewed on ..." statement in parentheses after the source of title statement for monographic and integrating resources, since this is the most common form of the Source of title note for Internet resources as given in AACR2 examples, and the "viewed..." statement in parentheses after the source of title statement for serial resources, since this is the form of the Source of title note for Internet resources as given in CONSER Cataloging Manual examples.  But catalogers are free to use either "viewed" or "viewed on", as well as to give separate Source of title proper and Item described notes, if they wish.  If giving a separate Item described note, the most common form of the note begins with the phrase "Description based on ...", as illustrated in the AACR2 rules cited above.

3. CAPC Recommendations for Terminology with Examples

General principles

For monographic and integrating resources, assume that the title is taken from the page located at the URI in the first 856 *0 unless otherwise noted.  

In some cases it will be useful to include two aspects in the source of title note:
  1) a statement of the source of the title (e.g., home page, Web page, PDF)
  2) the location of the title in or on that source (e.g., HTML header, t.p., cover, caption)
For example: "home page HTML header;" "PDF cover."

Monographic and Integrating Web Pages (HTML, XML SGML)

The majority of titles are taken from one of two sources:
  1) a title displayed at or near the top of a page (whether text or graphic)
  2) the content of the title meta tag in the source code header, which also displays in the title bar in most Web browsers

CAPC's recommendations:

  Use the term "home page" for the first, opening, or entry page of a Web site consisting of multiple individual Web pages and other files.

  Use the term "Web page" for single Web page resource; i.e., a single HTML file, not a multi-page Web site. 

  Use the term "HTML header" for the content of the HTML title tag embedded in the HTML source code header and displayed in the browser title bar (or, XML or SGML instead of HTML when applicable --most Web resources are in HTML; if in doubt about type of markup language, view source code).


   Multi-page Web site or database:

500 ## $a Title from home page (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from home page HTML header (viewed on ...).

   Single page Web document:

500 ## $a Title from Web page (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from HTML header (viewed on ...).

PDF Documents

Use the same terminology as would be used for print documents, e.g., t.p., cover, caption, etc., and use the page numbering that appears on the pages as displayed rather than the electronic file page numbering. 


  1. this parallels the practice for print documents;
  2. if the document is printed, this is the numbering that appears to catalogers and users, and the electronic file page numbering is never seen again;
  3. bibliographic citations to the document for purposes of research normally use the numbering that appears on the page as displayed, just as for a print document, whether or not a particular online PDF document actually has a print version; see, for example, University of California Berkeley Library's MLA Style Citations guide, under "Electronic Publications:


500 ## $a Title from PDF t.p. (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from PDF cover (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from PDF caption (viewed on ...).

Online Serials

Examples given in 31.3.4 of the CONSER Cataloging Manual, Module 31, Remote Access Electronic Serials (Online Serials): 

"Add the provider version selected for description to the title source statement and give the particular file format used for the description if the serial was available in several formats at the site. Apply this to titles available from multiple distributors as well as born-digital serials."

500 ## $a Title from volume contents page (Ingenta Select, viewed July 15, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from PDF caption (publishers Web site, viewed Aug. 20,2003).

500 ## $a Title from PDF running title (publishers Web site, viewed Dec.24, 2002).

500 ## $a Title from table of contents page (Emerald, viewed Mar. 22,2003).

500 ## $a Title from HTML header (Society for Information Technology Web site, viewed July 16, 1998).

500 ## $a Title from publishers statement page on the World Wide Web (publishers Web site, viewed Sept. 15, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from subject line of email header (viewed Jan. 8, 1998).

"If the description is based on an issue other than the first, combine the "Description based on" and source of title notes in the 500 field (see CCM 8.1.1)."

500 ## $a Description based on: July 1994; title from caption (publishers Web site, viewed July 14, 2003).

500 ## $a Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 2 (Apr. 1995); title from table of contents (Ingenta, viewed Nov. 29, 2003).

Miscellaneous Other Situations

Examples of other less common situations: some random examples:

500 ## $a Title from home page navigation frame (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from e-book home page (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from "About this site" page (viewed on ...).

500 ## $a Title from home page HTML header Dublin Core title tag (viewed on ...).

4. Selected List of Commonly-Used Terms for Source of Title

Term Definition CAPC Recommended Usage
caption title A title given at the beginning of the first page of the text or, in the case of a musical score, immediately above the opening bars of the music.  [AACR2] Generally use for PDF documents when applicable; may apply to some Web pages
home page The first page or front page of a Web site. It serves as the starting point for navigation (not be confused with a buffer page, doorway page, or splash page). [NetLingo]  Generally prefer to: opening page, opening screen, start page, start screen, title page, title screen, etc.


HTML header The content of the HTML title element (between the <title> and </title> tags within the HTML header (content between the <head> and </head> tags, in contrast with the body of the HTML page (content between the <body> and </body> tags). This content also displays in the title bar of most Web browsers (e.g., Netscape, Internet Explorer).  [CAPC definition] Generally prefer to: title bar, source code, HTML source, etc.
PDF Portable Document Format. PDF reserves all the fonts, formatting, colors, and graphics of any source document, regardless of the software and computer platform used to create it. [Adapted from CIT glossary and NetLingo] Generally prefer to: PDF source; source file; Adobe Acrobat file or document, etc.
running title A title, or abbreviated title, that is repeated at the head or foot of each page or leaf.  [AACR2] Generally use for PDF documents when applicable
source code The form in which a computer program or Web site is written; for example, on the Internet, the source code for a Web page. The document source is the actual programming code that creates a Web page. Choosing this item from the "View" drop-down menu in a Web browser produces a page with a document's source code that includes an encoded "Title." [freely adapted from NetLingo] Generally prefer instead: HTML header
splash page An introductory first page or front page that you see on some Web sites, it usually contains a click-through logo or message or a fancy Flash presentation with some kind of announcement. The main content and navigation of the site reside "behind" this page (on the homepage or welcome page). [NetLingo] Generally prefer to: splash screen, doorway page, etc.
table of contents page An HTML, PDF, or other page that lists the contents of the resource, whether monographic, integrating, or serial.  This includes table of contents pages for online serials that list the available issues for the serial or the contents of an individual issue, when selected as the chief source of information  
t.p. Abbreviation for "title page." of a PDF document, whether monograph or serial, that parallels a title page in a print medium. Generally prefer to the un abbreviated form: title page
title bar The colored bar at the top of most Web browser windows that displays the content of the HTML or XML title element, e.g., the content between the <title> and </title> tags. [freely adapted from NetLingo] Generally prefer instead: HTML header
title page The title page of a PDF document, whether monograph or serial, that parallels a title page in a print medium. Generally prefer instead the abbreviation: t.p.
title screen Title Screen (Electronic resources): A display of data that includes the title proper and usually, although not necessarily, the statement of responsibility and the data relating to publication. [AACR2 Appendix D Glossary] Generally prefer instead: caption on home page or caption on Web page
Web page A single HTML or XML file that contains text and/or images and has an individual file name assigned to it.  It may be a stand-alone page or part of a multi-page Web site. 

Distinguish from "home page" (see definition above).

Generally prefer to: title screen, opening page or screen, welcome mat page

5. Graphical Examples of CAPC Recommended Usage

Home Page

  • In this example there are several possible forms of title displayed on the home page.
  • Use best cataloger judgment in selecting which form to use as title in 245 and be liberal in including variant forms in 246 field.
  • Normally also give the HTML header title as a variant form in a 246 when it is not selected as the title proper in the 245.

245 00 $a Enforcement & compliance history online $h [electronic resource] : $b (ECHO).
246 3# $a Enforcement and compliance history online
246 30 $a ECHO
246 1# $i Title in home page HTML header: $a EPA enforcement and compliance history online
500 ## $a Title from home page (viewed on Oct. 16, 2003).
856 40 $u

HTML Header of Home Page

245 00 $a OLAC Web site $h [electronic resource] / $c Online Audiovisual Catalogers.
246 3# $a OLAC : $b Online Audiovisual Catalogers : [Web site]
246 3# $a Online Audiovisual Catalogers Web site
500 ## $a Title from home page HTML header (viewed on Mar. 23, 2004).
856 40 $u

Web Page

100 1# $a Wolosky, Lee S.
245 10 $a First public hearing on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States $h [electronic resource] : $b statement of Lee S. Wolosky to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, April 1, 2003.
500 ## $a Title from Web page (viewed on February 28, 2005).
710 2# $a National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.
856 40 $u

Title Page of PDF Document

245 10 $a Child protective services $h [electronic resource] : $b a guide for caseworkers / $c Diane DePanfilis, Marsha K. Salus.
246 30 $a Guide for caseworkers
246 3# $a Guide for case workers
500 ## $a Title from PDF t.p. (viewed on July 10, 2004).
856 40 $u

Journal Home Page in Publisher's Web Site

130 0_ Journal of geographical systems (Online)
245 10 Journal of geographical systems $h [electronic resource].
246 30 Geographical systems
500 ## "Geographical information, analysis, theory, and decision."
500 ## Title journal home page (publisher's Web site, viewed Dec. 16, 1999).
856 40 $u

Caption on Table of Contents Page --in selected provider's Web site

130 0# $a Asia Pacific journal of marketing and logistics (Online)
245 10 $a Asia Pacific journal of marketing and logistics $h [electronic resource].
246 30 $a Journal of marketing and logistics
500 ## $a Description based on: Vol. 10, issue 1 (1998); title from  table of contents page (Emerald, viewed July 12, 2003).
856 40 $u vl=2201431/ cl=85/nw=1/ rpsv/cw/ www/mcb/ 13555855/ v10n1-1.htmx

Caption on Page 1 of PDF Document in Publisher's Web Site --first Issue of online serial in PDF format

130 0# $a NDEVC news (Online)
245 10 $a NDEVC news $h [electronic resource].
246 3# $a Nondestructive Evaluation Validation Center news
246 1# $i Title on journal home page: $a NDEVC newsletter
362 0# $a Vol. 1, issue 1-
500 ## $a Title from PDF caption (viewed July 12, 2004).
856 40 $u


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