StaffGuide: Receiving & Processing

Title Changes and Alternate Titles


If you notice title change notes in the check-in record, send the issue to the Receiving Specialist for review. These notes should be at the top of the check-in record and say “PENDING TITLE CHANGE: [info regarding title change and which issue to send for review]." There will also be a note in the check-in card prompting you to send the issue for review. To see what the Serials Processing Specialist does upon receiving these issues, check section below.

You may also learn about title changes from vendors or publisher correspondence. Any e-mails, vendor notifications, letters, editor’s notes, etc. that indicate an upcoming title change should be forwarded to the Receiving Specialist.

You can also send issues to be reviewed if, during the check-in process, you notice a title on the front cover (or prominent area) that’s different from the main title and isn’t listed as an alternate title in the bib record.

Here is an example of the main title (the 245 field) and alt titles (222s or 246s) as listed in a bib record:

Title and alternate titles

After reviewing the issue, the Receiving Specialist will do one of two things:

  • If the new title is significantly different: Initiate a Title Change, which will involve adding the check-in record notes as described above, reviewing future issues, and possibly creating a separate bib record for the new title.
  • If the new title is a minor variation of the main title: Add the new title as an alternate title to the same bib record. Adding alternate titles makes the journal easier to find in the public catalog, with more search possibilities.

Major vs. Minor Changes

Major vs. Minor Changes

Title changes are divided into major changes and minor changes. Major changes will require a new record. If a suitable record is not available in WorldCat Connexion, the title will require Serials Cataloging to do original cataloging. Records for related titles are typically linked together using the 780 and 785 MARC fields. The second indicator notes the relationship of the titles (Continues, Absorbed, Merged with ___ to form ___, and so forth). Minor changes do not require a new record and sometimes require no edits to the existing record at all. However, it might be suitable to ask Serials Cataloging to add alternate title fields (222, 246) for alternate titles.

The following lists are summaries of these types of changes, but some title changes can get complicated really quickly, so feel free to consult with Serials Cataloging when in doubt.

Major Changes

  1. Change in the title proper
    "Title proper" means the 245 MARC field only. The rule of thumb is to only consider changes that occur in the first five words of the title, unless any changes after the first five words indicate a substantive change to the meaning or scope of the serial.
  2. Change in corporate body main entry or corporate body uniform title qualifier
    Only consider totally different corporate bodies. A name change to the same corporate body will be addressed by authority control.
  3. Change in physical medium
    We would also refer to this as a format change, such as print to electronic.
  4. Change in edition statement (in some cases)
    This refers to a substantive change in editions, such as the Eastern edition and Western Edition merging to become the World Edition. The publication of a new edition, such as the 4th Revised Edition, would not constitute a major change.
  5. Presence of a new ISSN (in many cases)
    The presence of a new ISSN alone doesn't always indicate the need for a new record, but, more often than not, a new ISSN will be accompanied by another change or changes that can push you over into the major change category.

Minor Changes

  1. Representation of a word
    This is an exception to the first five words rule mentioned in the context of major changes. Examples include "new" or "revised" being added to the title, upper or lower case changes, plural or singular words, acronyms being spelled out and vice versa, the presence of a hyphen where there was once a space, etc.
  2. Articles, prepositions, conjunctions
    Newsletter of Super Awesomeness versus Newsletter on Super Awesomeness.
  3. Name of corporate body
    In this scenario, the corporate body related to the publication has not changed. Its name was either added or deleted from the title of the publication, or the form of its name changed. So, if Reflections on Terminal Cuteness became Minchew's Reflections on Terminal Cuteness, this would constitute a minor change.
  4. Punctuation
    OMG versus O.M.G.
  5. Order of titles (parallel titles)
    If the title is given in more than one language and the order of those titles is reversed from one issue to the next, this is a minor change. However, if the title proper (245|a) is just no longer present on the serial, this would be a major change.
  6. Words linking to numbering
    Coolio Annual Report versus Coolio Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 2014.
  7. Fluctuating titles
    An endless source of amusement and frustration for serials catalogers, this category can usually only be determined in retrospect. It can include titles that flip flop regularly or irregularly. Examples include, Daily Gleaner, which is also Sunday Gleaner and Frommer’s Las Vegas, published from 1989-1990, which then changed to Frommer’s Comprehensive Travel Guide Las Vegas in 1991/92-1995, and then back to Frommer’s Las Vegas from 1996 on.
  8. Words in a list
    The addition or deletion of words to a list (three or more terms), as long as there is no significant change to the subject matter. Generally, the longer the list, the lesser the effect of change will be on the subject matter.
  9. Words that denote type of resource
    Addition or deletion of words denoting type of resource. Such as, Outlook versus Outlook MagazineActive Projectsversus Active Projects Report

**This section is from North Carolina State University Cataloging and Acquistions web site.

Helpful Information on Title Changes