Help:Entering non-genre periodicals

Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page is a help or manual page for the ISFDB database. It describes standards or methods for entering or maintaining data in the ISFDB database, or otherwise working with the database. Other help pages may be found via the category below. To discuss what should go on this page, use the talk page.

If, after exploring the Help system, you still have a question, please visit the Help desk and let us know. We probably know the answer, but we need your help to know what we left out of the help pages.

If you are new to editing the ISFDB, please see Help:Getting Started.

For more on this and other header templates, see Header templates.

What are non-genre periodicals?

A non-genre periodical is one that did not specialize in speculative fiction. Early 20th century American general pulp magazines such as Argosy and All-Story; the "slick" fiction magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's; children's magazines such as Boys' Life; "men's" magazines such as Playboy; general interest magazines such as The Strand, Punch, and Life; even mostly non-fiction magazines such as Scientific American; all have published SF at one time or another, and all are considered non-genre periodicals for the purposes of the ISFDB project. General newspapers, such as the New York Times and the London Times, which have occasionally published SF, are also considered non-genre periodicals. Anthologies that contain mostly general fiction, but also have some SF content, can also be entered using the data entry rules for non-genre periodicals. To confirm a non-genre periodical's eligibility consult ISFDB:Policy#Rules_of_Acquisition.

Also see Magazines#General Interest Magazines with SF Content (SF content only).

Why one should enter non-genre periodicals

In many cases a work of speculative fiction has been published in a periodical that does not specialize in such works. In particular, many well-known (and many not so well-known) speculative fiction stories were first published in non-genre periodicals. In such cases it is desirable to record such publications in order to make the bibliography of the story complete. However, the ISFDB is not a general-fiction index and the non-speculative-fiction contents of such a periodical should not be entered.

It is in no case essential that an entry for a non-genre periodical be created. A note in the title record for the work is an acceptable alternate way of recording the information. (See below.) But whenever a non-genre periodical (or anthology) has in fact published a work of speculative fiction, creating an entry to record this is acceptable. It is particularly desirable when the non-genre periodical is the first or only publication of the work. It is less important if the non-genre publication was a later reprint, particularly if the story has often been reprinted in genre anthologies or collections. But in any case, whether to create such an entry is a matter that any particular editor can decide for him or herself.

How to enter non-genre periodicals

(If you have questions about this process, ask for assistance at the Help desk.)

Often you will be working from a secondary source, for example, a note in an anthology that "This story was first published in the November 1928 issue of Argosy". Occasionally, you will have an actual copy of the periodical, a facsimile reprint, or a e-reprint. In all of these cases, there are a few key pieces of information that you must have.

If a secondary source lists the publication of a story by a known author of SF in a non-genre periodical, but does not clearly indicate whether the story is SF or not, creating an entry for it is a judgment call. Additional research, or the locations of other publications of the story, may give a clue as to whether it is SF (and therefore should be included) or not.

Required data

If any of the required data is unknown or is not reliable, do not create a non-genre periodical entry. Instead use a title note. Any additional data is strictly optional, and entries including only the required data are perfectly acceptable.

  1. The title of the periodical, as accurately as possible. See Magazines#General Interest Magazines with SF Content (SF content only), to see what forms may already have been used. See The FictionMags Index and Galactic Central's Magazine Checklists. If they do not agree, try OCLC Fiction Finder or the Library of Congress Online Catalog or other sources. See Sources of Bibliographic Information for more sources.
  2. The date of the issue (or issues, if you are entering more than one) where the work was published. This may be:
    1. A day, month, and year ("January 17, 1925")
    2. A range with two exact dates ("January 10 - 17, 1925")
    3. A month ("January 1925")
    4. A range of two months (("January-February 1925")
    5. A season ("Spring 1925")
    6. Failing any date, the volume and issue number (or whole issue number) may be used instead
    • If the date is not reliably known with sufficient precision to identify a specific issue, do not create an entry for the periodical. (Unless a specific issue number can be used instead.) Instead record the available data and source in a note on the title record of the story in question. (See Below.) This is always an acceptable alternate procedure. For a quarterly periodical "Spring" may be sufficient; for a weekly periodical a specific week must be known.
  3. The title of the work, as originally published: note that sometimes early publications were under titles different from those commonly used later. If there is no information about a variant title, you should use the known later title, which may be changed should evidence of a different form turn up.
  4. The name(s) of the author(s), if possible as credited in the initial publication. Sometimes a different form of the name or a pen name was used for early or non-genre publication. For example, a number of Robert A. Heinlein's early works were published under the name of Anson McDonald. If there is no reliable information about a variant author credit, you should use the canonical name, or the name associated with later publications of the story in question, pending further evidence.

Steps to take

First, search the database to see if we already have an entry for the particular issue you want to enter. It may be that there was a different work of SF in that issue, and another editor has already created an entry for it. Go to "Advanced Search" and enter a key word or phrase from the title of the periodical into the "title" search field. Optionally, you can also enter "EDITOR" into a "title type" search field.

If you find an entry for the particular issue you wish to enter, go to the section Adding content to an existing entry below. Otherwise, if you find entries for other issues of the same periodical, open at least one of them and take note of the formats used, so that your entry can be consistent.

Second, from any publication display or the main menu, click "New Magazine" under Editing Tools.

Third, enter the minimal required meta-data. See Help:Screen:NewPub for additional details on the various fields.

  • Enter the title of the periodical, followed by a comma, and the date or dates of the issue in the "title" field. If the date is not available, use the issue number (which may include a volume number). If other issues of the same periodical are on file, try to use the same form of the name and date format as they used, unless the periodical's actual name changed (For example, Argosy was The Golden Argosy early in its history and became Argosy-All Story after its merger with All-Story). If you are using a date, be sure that the year is specified as a full 4 digits. "The Strand, September '60" could be either 1860 or 1960, for example.
    The ISFDB standard format for this field is "Periodical Name, Month Day, Year" for dailies or weeklies, "Periodical Name, Month Year" for monthlies, or "Periodical Name, Month1-Month2 Year" for bimonthlies. See Help:Screen:EditPub for more details. Follow the ISFDB standard insofar as possible. Check other issues of the same periodical for models to follow, if available. If you are not sure exactly how to enter a particular issue, get it in as best as you can, and call attention to the matter at the Help desk.
  • If credited in the periodical, enter the editor name(s) exactly as printed with the following caveat:
    • "Editors of PERIODICAL NAME" may be used instead of some or all editor names if they are unknown or unclear or not of genre interest. If using the "Editors of ..." format, get the actual periodical name as correct as possible.
  • In the "Date" field enter the date of publication in YYYY-MM-DD format as closely as it is known. As usual, leave any unknown date components as zeros.
    Note that the date must be known precisely enough to identify a specific issue, or no entry should be created at all, as mentioned above. With a periodical of daily or weekly frequency, a specific day should normally be known. With one of monthly frequency, a specific month should be known. With a bimonthly, normally use the earlier of the two listed months. With a quarterly or annual, it may not be possible to be more precise than the year. Also, if the issue is identified by issue number rather than date, the date may not be known more precisely than the year. The year must in any case be known with reasonable assurance. See Help:Screen:EditPub -- the section on the Year field -- for the normal ISFDB standards for entering periodical dates.
  • If the formal name of the publisher of the periodical is known, enter it in the "publisher" field. Otherwise, leave this field blank. Stay consistent in form with other entries for the same periodical, so as not to create multiple publisher records (except where the actual publisher is known to have changed). If in doubt, leave blank.
  • If the accurate page count (including front and back covers) of the periodical is reliably known, enter it here, otherwise leave it blank. Mostly this will be blank unless you are working from a facsimile or original copy. (See Help:Screen:EditPub if working from an original or facsimile.)
  • Select the appropriate "Pub Format" value from the drop-down list. For details, see the Help page that is linked from the mouse-over help.
  • If you know the cover price of the issue, enter it in the price field with a proper currency symbol, otherwise leave it blank. It will usually be blank.
  • Enter the cover artist if known. If an image is available, enter its URL - see ISFDB:Image linking permissions for details.
  • In the "Notes" field enter the source from which your information is derived, and any other relevant information. If you have used multiple sources, mention this. If such sources are somewhat contradictory or seem unreliable, you can use a vague indication ("Based on data from several online vendors"). In particular, the source(s) which lead you to believe that the specific story is contained in the specific issue should be noted. Sources for metadata that are not required anyway are much less important. Also, a note such as "The listing for this non-genre publication is intentionally incomplete, only SF content is listed." is strongly recommended. Please sign your note with your ISFDB User ID, initials, name, or the like so that other ISFDB editors will know who to ask about any doubtful points. A rough date (month and year) in the note is also helpful.

Fourth, enter the speculative fiction content in the "Content" section. See Help:Screen:NewPub#General contents for additional details on the various fields.

  • Enter the story title (as originally published) in the title field of a content section.
  • Enter the story's author (as originally credited, if known) in the matching author field.
  • Leave the "Entry Type" field as "Shortfiction" unless (rarely) the entry is a poem, or is part of a serial, or is a novel-length work published complete in one issue.
    • If a serial is being entered, add "(part n of m)" to the title
    • If a novel-length work published in a single issue is being entered, add "(Complete Novel)" to the tile, and use a type of "SERIAL".
      • Note that early periodicals often listed a work as a "Complete Novel" on the cover or in the table of contents when by current standards it is a Novella or even a Novelette. Please do not use the "(Complete Novel)" tag unless you have reason to believe that the work counts as a novel by current standards, that is, it consisted of 40,000 words or more. Otherwise just list it as a work of shortfiction. See Help:Screen:EditPub on the length standards for novel and the various shortfiction lengths.
  • Enter the length field (short story, novelette, or novella) if known, otherwise leave it blank. (See Help:Screen:EditPub)
  • Leave the page field blank unless the page number where the story started in the periodical is known. If it is known, enter the starting page.
  • Leave the date field blank. The software will automatically fill in the date of the magazine from the Date field in the "Publication Data" section. (Exception: If the story is a reprint and the date of original publication is known, enter the date of original publication. If the story is already in the ISFDB, merging will take care of this, see below.)

Fifth, in the unusual case that more than one work of speculative fiction was published in the same issue, and you have data for both, enter the 2nd (and any subsequent) stories in the same way as the first.

Interior art specifically associated with a speculative fiction story may be entered, if the data is available. Otherwise do not enter any interior art. Normally no editorials, letters, or essays will be entered. Reviews of SF works may be entered, but this will be rare. Significant essays specifically connected with SF works may optionally be entered, but this also will be rare.

Sixth, when all relevant and available data has been entered click "Submit data". The edit will now be reviewed by a moderator and added to the database when approved.

Seventh, after the edit has been approved, check the author's page (or do a title search) to see if the edit may have created a duplicate entry. If it has, merge the duplicates, or ask for assistance (at the Help desk) to merge them. Instructions on merging duplicates may be found at Help: How to merge titles.

Eighth, after the edit has been approved, if a series exists for the periodical in question (See General Interest Magazines for links to several such series), add the title record for your newly created issue to the relevant series. Ask for assistance if needed at the Help desk. This step may be left for another editor, if you find it daunting or onerous.

Genre special issues

Sometimes, a non-genre periodical will devote an entire issue to speculative fiction and/or articles about it. This can be regarded as a genre publication and genre non-fiction should be cataloged along with the fiction (even though we do not normally catalog non-fiction from non-genre magazines).


If you know that a story or novel was serialized in a non-genre periodical, but do not have reliable information sufficient to enter all the issues involved, you may create entries for those issues for which reliable information is available, or you may instead use a title note (see below). Do not create entries for issues for which the required information is not reliably known. Do not assume that a serial started in one issue must have been continued in the next. There are cases where a serialization was started but never completed.

Adding content to an existing entry

If an entry for a specific issue already exists, and you have data on an additional story published in that issue, display the publication record and click "Edit this Pub"

Click "Add title" at the end of the "contents" section and add the data for the additional story or stories as described above. Click "Submit data" when the data has been entered, as above.

Revised works

If it is reliably known that the non-genre publication of a story was significantly different in content (longer, shorter, or simply different), this should be noted in a title note (see below). Optionally, a designation in parentheses may be appended to the title of the work, such as "(condensed)", "(expanded)" "(1938 version)" or whatever will simply but clearly indicate the nature of the difference. If you are in any doubt, discuss the matter on the Community Portal, or ask for assistance on the Help desk.

The alternative: Title notes

As mentioned above, it is always acceptable to add a mention of a non-genre publication, particularly a first publication, to the notes field of the title ("Bibliography") record of a story (or other work). To do this, display the title record, and click "Title Data" in the "Editing tools" section of the sidebar. Add the information to the notes field and click "Submit Data".

Of course, the title note method cannot be used if the only place that an SF work has been published is in a non-genre periodical, collection, or anthology, unless a title record for the work is first created. There are several ways to do this.

In many cases, it will be a good idea to create a title note in addition to an entry for a non-genre periodical, rather than instead of such an entry. Having both in the database is perfectly acceptable.