|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.
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Some works have variant titles. For example, M._John_Harrison's In_Viriconium was also published under the title The_Floating_Gods. In cases like this, the ISFDB permits multiple title records to exist, one of which is the canonical title, while the others are variants. "Add a Variant to This Title" is a way to create a title record that is a variant.
Note that this screen permits you to enter title information without any associated publication information. Because publications are the ISFDB's primary sources, it is always preferable to enter the publication instead of just some title information. That way the information can be verified by another editor. For this reason please avoid using this screen if possible. Instead, use Help:Screen:MakeVariant.
To access this page, when a title is displayed, click on "Add a Variant Title" in the left navigation bar. This will bring up a page where you can enter a new title record. You will be able to enter the following fields:
- Title - The title of the work. The title should appear exactly as published, even though this may be different from the canonical title. Note that if you are cloning a publication, this field is not editable for existing content records.
- Novels. For a novel, the title should be identical to the title of the publication in which the novel is published, unless the novel is included in an omnibus or collection. There can be differences in unusual cases: for example, a publication title might be "The Official Dune", for Frank Herbert's preferred text, but the novel contained in that publication might still have the title "Dune", depending on how the work is presented. Usually, however, the title page will provide the novel's title. This is typically the page with the copyright information on the back. If you're entering a novel from within an omnibus, there may be a separate title page for each novel. Note also that if you're entering a novel using the "New Novel" screen, you will not be given an option to enter the novel title separately from the publication title. This should never matter, since for a novel the publication and title should use the same form of the title, but if it does -- for example if this is a scholarly presentation of the work, and the novel is given a separate title page within this presentation -- then you should use a different type, such as COLLECTION or ANTHOLOGY.
- Subtitles. If the title has a subtitle, enter it, with a colon and a space used to separate the title from the subtitle. For example, the 1986 edition of George MacDonald's "Lilith" has "Lilith" on the title page, and below that, in a smaller font, "A Romance". This should be entered as "Lilith: A Romance". It is sometimes a judgment call as to whether a change of font or a colon indicates a subtitle or just some creative license on the part of the typesetter. If in doubt, take your best guess and document the guess in the publication's notes.
- Short fiction, essays and poems. For short stories, essays and poems, when working from a primary source, always take the title from the heading on the page where the work begins. The title shown in/on the table of contents, running page headers, index, front cover of the publication, secondary bibliography, or a promotional website listing is secondary. Any differences between titles in the publication may be noted in the publication notes, but this is not required. If titles are being entered solely from a secondary source, please record the source in the note field.
- SERIALs. If the title of a SERIAL installment is unique, e.g. "Butterflies in the Kremlin, Part Eight: As the Bear Turns" or "Ciężki bój (cz. 1)", then use the full form of the title. If, on the other hand, the title is shared by at least one other SERIAL installment of the work, append a space and a parenthetical statement such as "(Part 1 of 3)" to the title. For novel length works (40,000+ words) printed as a single installment in a magazine or fanzine, append a space and "(Complete Novel)" to the title.
- Excerpts. Sometimes an excerpt from a forthcoming book will be printed at the back of a book. This should be treated as short fiction. If the excerpt has a different title than the work from which it is excerpted, use that title. Otherwise, use the title of the excerpted work, but add " (excerpt)" to the end; e.g. "A Feast for Crows (excerpt)".
- Omnibuses, nonfiction, anthologies and collections. Like novels, the title of an omnibus, nonfiction booklength work, anthology or collection is duplicated from the publication title at the time the publication is created. Unlike novels, however, these titles are not displayed as content records unless there is a discrepancy between the publication type and the title type. See the help for the entry type field for more discussion.
- When recording an omnibus publication, please record all of its contents. If it contains one or more collections, please record both the collection titles and the individual short fiction or essay titles as part of the omnibus's contents.
- Artwork. Interior art should have the same title as the fiction or essay it is associated with. If it is independent of other content, and has no apparent title or caption, give it the title of the publication in which it appears, disambiguating if necessary. [Note: occasionally a work may actually be titled "Untitled" which can correctly be given as the title of the work in the ISFDB record.] Cover art should have the same title as the title of the publication that it is associated with. Artwork on the back cover of a publication is treated as interior art. For works with multiple illustrations per story (usually a magazine or anthology) where the illustrations are not individually named, use the format "Story Title" for the first illustration, then "Story Title ", "Story Title ", and so on.
- Case. Titles should have case regularized according to language-specific rules unless there is some specific evidence that the author intended certain letters to be in a specific case. For example, if the title is "EXTRO" in all caps, the title should be entered as "Extro". This applies to the titles of short stories as well as books. Typesetting style is not important; for example, the magazine Fantastic Universe typically printed story titles in lower case, but these titles are regularized for the ISFDB. For English titles, the ISFDB case regularization rules are as follows:
- the first word is capitalized
- all later words are capitalized except for "a", "an", "and", "at", "by", "for", "from", "in", "of", "on", "or", "the", "to", and "with"
- hyphenated words have the first letter after the hyphen capitalized
- exception: cartoon captions use the original case (see Template:TitleFields:TitleType for details)
- Symbols and punctuation:
- An ellipsis should be entered as the sequence "period", "period", "period" without spaces in between the periods. If the ellipsis is in the middle of the title, it should be entered with a space after it, prior to the start of the following word.
- Em-dashes should be entered directly adjacent to the words on both sides. Hyphens and spaces make different titles: "Hell Fire", "Hellfire", and "Hell-Fire" are three different titles, and should be entered as such.
- Quotes can be entered either as single (') or double (") quotes. They are considered interchangeable typographical artifacts and no variant titles should be created for versions of the same story that use different types of quotes.
- Strange symbols should be entered if appropriate typographical characters exist. If not, do what you can and make a note as necessary in the publication notes. For example, John Varley's story "Press Enter" is often titled with a black rectangle, indicating a computer cursor, at the end. Other characters should be entered in Unicode if possible; this includes accented characters, and symbols such as em-dashes. Note that if you are using a Windows computer, you can use the Windows Character Map to enter unusual characters; to access the Character Map, go to Start->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools.
- Fonts. Do not use embedded HTML outside of Notes/Synopsis fields. If the title has one or more words in italics, boldface, or another unusual font, and the font seems important, it can be shown and/or described in a note.
- "Standard" titles. The title of a non-fiction piece of the ESSAY type may have a standard, or generic, title, such as "Introduction", "Editorial", "About the Author", "Foreword", or several other similar titles. If an author has written many "Introduction"s over their career, their bibliography will show several identical titles, with the only way to distinguish them is clicking on each one to find out its publication history. For this reason, you should parenthetically append the container title (title of the novel, collection, anthology, etc) to the title of the essay, i.e. "<generic essay title> (<container title>)" in order to create a unique title. For example, Susan Wood's introduction to the Le Guin collection The Language of the Night was entered as Introduction (The Language of the Night).
- Author - The name of the author of the work. For novel, anthology, collection and omnibus works, this will be the same as what's entered in the publication author field. The name should be entered exactly as it actually appeared in the publication. This includes pseudonyms, abbreviated names ("I. Asimov" instead of "Isaac Asimov", "Robert Heinlein" instead of "Robert A. Heinlein"), etc. Take the author credit from the title page rather than the book's cover or spine. If the publication contains multiple works, use the author credit given at the beginning of each work. If an individual work doesn't have an author credit, which is common in single-author collections, use the form of the author's name stated on the publication's main title page. If necessary, a variant title record linking the work to its canonical author should be created after the submission has been accepted. There is a special rule for in-universe essays, which are written as if by a character in the story, often as an introduction or afterword. Even if these are signed by the fictional character, they should be recorded as by the stated author of the work. Note that if you are cloning a publication, this field is not editable for existing content records.
- Anonymous or uncredited works. If a work is credited to "Anonymous", then put "Anonymous" in the author field. The same applies for any obviously similar pseudonym, such as "Noname". If the work is not credited at all, use "uncredited". If you are working from a secondary source which does not specify the author, but does not explicitly state that no author is credited in the publication, use "unknown" rather than "uncredited". The intent is that the ISFDB record should reflect what is stated in the publication. This applies to stories and essays that are not credited (often the case for short announcements in magazines, for example), and artwork that is not attributed and for which no signature can be identified. Letter columns with embedded editorial responses should be credited to whoever writes the responses, or to "uncredited" if this is not obvious. If a work is attributed to a role, e.g. "Editor" or "Publisher", then use that name as the author, even if you have clear evidence as to who the author really is. For example, editorials in magazines were frequently uncredited, or credited to "The Editor"; these should be entered with the Author field set to "The Editor". If there is a publicly available source which identifies the uncredited title's author, it will be later turned into a variant title using the author's canonical name.
- Case. Case should be regularized. A few magazines and books had typographical conventions that include, for example, printing an author's name in all lower case, or all upper case. These should be converted to leading capitals. If a name includes an element that typically is not capitalized, it should be uncapitalized regardless of how it is presented in the publication. For example, if a magazine gives a story as by "L. Sprague De Camp", the name should be entered as "L. Sprague de Camp". Author names that vary only in capitalization are not tracked as variants.
- Initials. Initials should normally be entered followed by a period and a space as "Gordon R. Dickson" or "K. D. Wentworth", even if the period or space is omitted in the publication. However, when it is clearly the author's choice to omit the period, or when the author has a single letter name that is not an initial (e.g. "Harry S Truman") the period should be omitted. In the rare case where an author prefers two (or more) initials as if they were a name (such as "TG Theodore"), without a period or space, and is so credited, we follow the author's preference. A possible clue to such cases occurs when most authors have initials shown with period and space, but a particular author is handled differently in a magazine or anthology. Checking other sources, such as a Wikipedia article or the author's web site, is a good idea. Such non-standard forms should be mentioned in a publication or title note.
- Spaces in Names: Spaces within a name should be regularized. If a name differs from a canonical name or existing alternate name only by the lack of, or addition of, blank spaces, it should be entered as the existing name or alternate name. For example, a book credited to "Ursula LeGuin", "Lester DelRey", or "A. E. VanVogt" should be listed by including the missing space, e.g. "Lester del Rey". Conversely, if a book were credited to "John De Chancie", the extra space should be removed, and the book credited to "John DeChancie". One effect of this rule is to avoid subjective judgements when there appears to be a "partial space" in a name.
- Short stories and artwork. For short stories that appear in magazines and anthologies, the author's name should be taken from the story heading, rather than from the table of contents, if there is one. However, as with titles, this is not particularly important, and if they differ, and one is the generally used canonical form of an author's name, take the canonical one -- e.g. if the story heading says "P.J. Farmer" but the table of contents has "Philip Jose Farmer" then use the latter. Similarly, if you are entering the artist for interior illustrations, and the artist is credited as "Emsh", enter "Emsh", but if the contents page says "Illustrations by Ed Emshwiller", feel free to enter "Ed Emshwiller" as the artist even if the individual stories assign them to "Emsh". In tables of contents, magazines sometimes abbreviated long names (e.g. collaborations) to fit into the available space, but used longer forms of the names on the story titles. In these cases the longer form of the names should be used.
- Alternate Names. If you know that a particular author's name is an alternate name, enter that alternate name rather than changing it to the canonical name. If the title page shows both an original and a subsequent name, use the original name. For example, Isaac Asimov's "Lucky Starr" books were originally published under the pseudonym of Paul French, but later reprints were given both names: "by Isaac Asimov, writing as Paul French". In these cases you should still enter Paul French as the author and record the dual credit in the notes. If the cover shows both names but the title page shows only one name, use the name from the title page -- no matter which it is -- and record the discrepancy with the cover credit in the notes. When a book is known to be ghost-written, this should be treated as an alternate name; the ghost-writer will eventually show up as having an alternate name of the well-known author, but that data is not entered via this field.
- Non-English characters. Non-English characters, including accented Latin characters and all other Unicode characters, should be entered exactly as they appear in the publication. See the ISFDB FAQ for more information on accented characters.
- Collaborations. If a work has multiple authors, it doesn't matter in which order you enter them. The ISFDB does not record author order regardless of how the authors are entered.
- Writers "with" other writers. In some cases a writer is credited as writing a story "with" another author. If both names appear on the title page, both names should be recorded in the ISFDB. Although the "with" convention can indicate that the co-authors' contributions were not equal (often the more famous author did little more than lend their name to a project which was written almost entirely by the lesser known author), the "Author" field treats them as regular co-authors. A note can be added to the record explaining how the work is credited and giving additional information about the nature of the collaboration if publicly available.
- Ranks, suffixes, prefixes. If an author is given as "Captain Robert L. Stone" then that should be entered in the database. Abbreviated versions of the rank should be entered as given, rather than expanded. For example, during World War II, on at least one occasion Amazing Stories printed an issue of stories from active service members, giving their ranks as part of the author attribution. These ranks should be included in the author names, and made into alternate names for the relevant authors . Suffixes such as "Jr" should follow a comma and space, and be followed by a period if they are abbreviations. This should be regularized if they are not presented this way in the publication, e.g. "Sam Merwin Jr" should be entered as "Sam Merwin, Jr."; similarly, it's "Edward Elmer Smith, Ph.D."; "Frederick C. Durant, III"; and so on.
- Duplicate Names. See Help:How to enter duplicate record names
- Date - The original publication date of this title. The format of the field is "YYYY-MM-DD" (ex: 2023-01-30 is today).
- Note that if you are cloning a publication, this field is not editable for existing Content titles.
- If you leave this field blank for a title in the Content section, then the title's date will automatically default to the date of the publication that contains it, which is OK if this is the first publication of the title. If, however, this is not the first publication of the title, then you need to find when the title first appeared and enter that date manually. You may need to check the copyright/acknowledgments pages or other bibliographic sources to find the first publication date.
- When entering a variant title record, enter the earliest known date when this variant record was published. This includes variant title records created for new titles, new alternate names, new translations and/or significant textual revisions. If it's not clear whether textual revisions were significant, discuss the issue on Help desk. If the variant title is a translation but was published before the canonical title see the remarks on How to enter translations.
- Books: If a work has been serialized in a magazine, there may be a difference in textual content between the first magazine publication and the first book publication. "Skylark of Valeron", for example, appeared as a magazine serialization in 1933-4, but was not published in book form until 1949. Therefore, record the first book publication date. A note in the title field can record the magazine serialization date, if there is one. (Note that as more fully explained in Help:Use of the SERIAL type#Date Rule, the ISFDB uses the date of first book publication even if the magazine text is known to be the same as the book text.)
- Magazines and fanzines: Serial installments of a work, including novel length works (40,000+ words) printed as a single installment, are always given the date of the issue in which they appear even if the work has been published previously in book or serial form. See "Beyond This Horizon" for an example of a novel which was published as a multi-part serial, a book, and then as a single installment serial.
- Excerpts. Use the date when an excerpt was first published in that form, not the date when the original text it is taken from was published.
- Plays and Scripts. Use the date when a play or script (teleplay, screenplay, radioplay, etc) was published, not the date when it was performed or broadcast. (If a dramatic work has been performed but not published in writing, it should not be entered.) In some cases plays and scripts are not published until many years after they are first performed.
- Sources. If you know that a book's first edition is prior to the date in the title, the best thing to do is find a copy of the first edition, and enter that publication. Then the title record can be updated to match the earlier publication. If you're unable to locate a copy of the earlier book, it is generally not a good idea to use a copyright date without further checking. Copyright dates occasionally differ by a year from the date of publication of the book they refer to. Instead, look for secondary sources, such as bibliographic reference works, and enter data from there. Record your source in the notes field.
- Translator - Do not enter anything in this field; it is reserved for future use.
- Length - This field is only used for SHORTFICTION titles. It indicates the number of words in this SHORTFICTION title. Note that if you are cloning a publication, this field is not editable for existing content records.
- The allowed values are:
- short story - A work whose length is less than or equal to 7,500 words.
- novelette - A work whose length is greater than 7,500 words and less than or equal to 17,500 words.
- novella - A work whose length is greater than 17,500 words and less than or equal to 40,000 words.
- For variant titles, including translations, use the length value of the parent title. See Help:How to Count Words in Prose Fiction Titles for further instructions and suggestions.
- Title Type - The type of title being recorded. Note that if you are cloning a publication, this field is not editable for existing content records. The options are:
- SHORTFICTION. Any form of fiction other than a novel should be given this title type. A novel is defined as work of over 40,000 words; this cannot easily be determined by looking at a publication, so typically you should enter SHORTFICTION for anything you are not certain is a novel. Note that frequently a magazine will describe a story as a complete novel, even though it may be substantially below the 40,000 word mark. The description in the magazine should not be relied upon for this distinction. Some books contain fictional essays, purporting to be written by a character in the book, as introductions or afterwords. There is no "FICTIONAL ESSAY" title type, so you have to choose whether the title is better described as SHORTFICTION or ESSAY.
- ANTHOLOGY and COLLECTION. These are rarely the correct type for a content title. If you create a new anthology or collection, an "ANTHOLOGY" or "COLLECTION" content record is automatically created by the ISFDB, but it is not displayed. However, if you are entering an omnibus, or a dos-a-dos book such as an Ace Double, which has an anthology or collection as one of the components, then you should create an anthology or collection title as well as entries for the constituent stories. The difference between an anthology and a collection is that a collection is by a single author; stories by that author in collaboration with other authors are permissible, but if there are any two stories in the book that are by different authors then it is an anthology.
- EDITOR. This title type is created automatically for new Magazines/Fanzines and typically is not entered manually. The primary exception is when converting another type of publication, e.g. an Anthology, to a Magazine, in which case you will need to change the publication's "ANTHOLOGY" title to an "EDITOR" title.
- ESSAY. Used for editorials, opinion pieces, and items such as "The Story Behind the Cover", "Next Issue", and letter columns. Occasionally the boundary between ESSAY and SHORTFICTION is blurred: for example, Fantastic Universe had a one page description of the cover in most issues. Some of these were formulated as if they were pages from stories; these are entered as SHORTFICTION. In other cases a brief framing paragraph at the end or beginning makes it clear that the text is discussing the cover, rather than intending to be a piece of fiction; these are entered as ESSAY. Some books contain fictional essays, purporting to written by a character in the book, as introductions or afterwords. There is no "FICTIONAL ESSAY" title type, so you can choose whether the title is better described as SHORTFICTION or ESSAY. Review columns and interviews are also entered as ESSAYs. If an interview column contains only one interview (as is usually the case), then the interview column does not need to be entered at all; instead, just enter the interview information in the Interview section. The details of what was reviewed, or who was interviewed, are recorded with REVIEW and INTERVIEW types, which are entered via the special Review and Interview sections described below. See also NONFICTION.
- INTERIORART. There are three ways in which this can be used. First, if a single artist does all of the interior art for a book (e.g. Pauline Baynes for many of the "Narnia" editions), then a single content title, without a page number, is appropriate. If each story in a collection, anthology or magazine is illustrated by one artist, the artwork can be indexed with a single title for each artist and story. For example, the December 1956 issue of Infinity Science Fiction contains the story "My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon" by Milton Lesser, which is illustrated by Stallman. The story starts on page 5 but the first piece of artwork is on page 9. In this case there is only one illustration for the story, but if there were multiple illustrations a single title would still suffice. The page number given is the page number of the start of the story in this case; the title is the title of the content item being illustrated. An alternate option is to enter the first page where artwork appears. Page 9 would also be acceptable in the above case. It is also acceptable (but not required) to enter all pages where multiple artwork appears in a story. See Analog, January 1965 for an acceptable implementation. The multiple pieces of artwork should not be merged. If the illustration has a separate title or caption, document in the illustration's Notes field. The third way to use this title type is to capture illustrations that are not attached to individual stories, or to capture illustrations of stories which are illustrated by multiple artists (a rare situation). In these cases each title indicates a specific illustration, and the page number is the page number of the illustration itself. If an illustration is independent of other content, and has no apparent title or caption, give it the title of the publication in which it appears, disambiguating if necessary.
- Maps. These are considered interior art for ISFDB purposes and are typed as INTERIORART. The format for titling maps is "Title of Work (map)", for example: Brightness Reef (map). Optionally, if a map is titled you can use the stated title of the map without appending the name of the work, for example The Land of Nehwon (map).
- Rules for including artwork. If artwork illustrates a particular story, it should be included. If it does not, but is a significant piece of artwork, or is signed by or credited to a well known sf artist, then it should be included. If an article is illustrated with diagrams, or with photographs, these do not need to be included; they are not "artwork" in the sense that we are indexing.
- Cartoons. Credited cartoons are always included. Uncredited full-page cartoons in digest magazines of at least 1/3 page cartoons in pulp and bedsheet size magazines are always included. The title should be "Cartoon: " followed by the caption, in the original case, between quotation marks. If there is no caption the words "no caption" should be used without quotation marks. See Dream World, February 1957 for examples.
- INTERVIEW. Generally you do not need to use this type; use the special interview details section lower down the editing page.
- NONFICTION. Generally not used for content, since it refers to book length works. This might occur as an element of an omnibus.
- NOVEL. Used for a fiction piece of more than 40,000 words. As noted above, under SHORTFICTION, you should generally ignore any statements made in magazines about something being a novel; this statement is often made about much shorter works. If you know something has been independently published as a novel, it is safe to mark it as a novel when you see it as a content element in a larger publication. For Ace Doubles, each content title will typically be a NOVEL, rather than SHORTFICTION, unless one of the constituent works is itself an anthology or a collection.
- OMNIBUS. Do not use; the omnibus content type is created automatically by the ISFDB when an omnibus publication is entered. It is not displayed with the publication and never needs to be entered manually.
- POEM. Self-explanatory.
- REVIEW. Generally you do not need to use this type; use the special review details section lower down the editing page.
- SERIAL. Use for a title that would otherwise be either SHORTFICTION or NOVEL, but which is being serialized in a magazine, a fanzine or a series of chapbooks. Also use when a novel length work (40,000+ words) is printed as a single installment in a magazine or fanzine issue. Note that all newly added SERIAL titles need to be turned into variants once the original submission has been approved -- see Help:How to connect serials to titles for instructions.
- Title Note - This field is for notes about the title record, not about any particular publication associated with that title. It can be used to enter the name of the title's translator, describe the relationship of the title to other related titles and so on. Certain templates and a limited subset of HTML can be used in this field -- see Help:Using Templates and HTML in Note Fields for more details.