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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.

When displaying information about an author, there is a link labelled "Edit Author Data" on the left navigation bar. Clicking on this link will bring up the Author Editor screen, which allows you to enter or modify information about the author.

The fields that can be edited are canonical name, legal name, transliterated legal name, birth place, birth date, death date, email address, web page, Wikipedia entry, IMDB entry, and author image.

  • Canonical Name - The canonical name is the name under which a particular author's bibliography is organized. For authors who publish under multiple names, the canonical name is the most recognized name for that author within the genre. The canonical name may be a pseudonym, for instance Cordwainer Smith ( Where there is any possibility of debate, an agreement should be reached on the project page for that author. For example, Megan Lindholm has had a successful career writing under her own name, and an even more successful career writing as "Robin Hobb"; a case could be made for either one being her canonical name.
    • Most of the canonical names in the ISFDB have already been set; do not change the field lightly - some Web sites link to the ISFDB using these canonical names.
    • Never use a format of Lastname, Firstname for this field.
    • Enter a space between initials, e.g. "H. P. Lovecraft" rather than "H.P. Lovecraft".
    • Name suffixes should be separated from the last name by a comma and a space. For instance:
      • Alfred Coppel, Jr.
      • Edward J. McFadden, III
      • Miles J. Breuer, M.D.
    • See How does the ISFDB deal with Unicode and accented characters? for more information about non-English characters.

see also Template:TitleFields:Author and Template:PublicationFields:Author

  • Transliterated Name. Populate only if the canonical name is spelled using a non-Latin alphabet/script. If you know the Romanized form of the name, enter it in this field. If there is more than one possible Romanization, click on the '+' button next to the field label and enter the other Romanized spellings of the name. You can click on the '+' button as many times as necessary. See How does the ISFDB deal with Unicode and accented characters? for more information about non-English characters.
  • Legal Name - This field should contain the most recent legal name for the author. For example, James Tiptree, Jr. was a pseudonym of Alice Sheldon, who was born Alice Bradley. Alice Sheldon is the most recent legal name for this author. Use the format "Lastname, Firstname Middlenames", with all names being given in full. The reason for this format are names like "Patrick Nielsen Hayden" where you can't readily tell whether the last name is "Hayden" or "Nielsen Hayden." No prefixes should be used: "Capt.", "Mrs.", "Sir", and so on, are not recorded in this field. Suffixes that are not part of the legal name -- for example, "Sr.", educational and professional designations such as "Ph.D." or "M.D.", ranks and orders such as "Col.", "K.G." -- also should not be recorded. Certain suffixes such as "Jr.", "II", "III", etc., may or may not be part of the legal name. We assume they are not, unless we have reliable evidence to the contrary. If a suffix is part of the legal name, use the format "Lastname, Firstname Middlenames, Suffix".
  • Transliterated Legal Name - This field is only used if the author's working language primarily uses a non-Latin alphabet or script. It should contain a Romanized, i.e. transliterated using Latin characters, form of the most recent legal name for the author. For example, the legal name of the Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis is "Καζαντζάκης, Νίκος". Enter this name in the "Legal Name" field and enter the Romanized version, "Kazantzakis, Nikos", into the "Transliterated Legal name" field. The format of the legal name should be "Lastname, Firstname Middlenames", with all names being given in full.
    • If you need to enter multiple values in this field, click the '+' button next to the field label and enter additional values in the new fields that will appear. This may be done in the following types of cases:
    1. There are multiple competing Romanization schemes for the author's working language. For example, there are multiple Romanization conventions for the Chinese language, including Gwoyeu Romatzyh, Wade-Giles, and Pinyin.
    2. The author's working language uses multiple scripts. For example, Japanese names are usually written using kanji, but in certain cases hiragana or katakana are used. In Serbian, both Latin and Cyrillic are used, although the Cyrillic alphabet is considered primary. In Azerbaijani, the Perso-Arabic script, Cyrillic and Latin have all been used at different points.
    3. The author has lived in different countries which use different alphabets/scripts. For example, Alexander Lomm lived in Russia as well as Czechoslovakia and wrote SF in Russian and Czech. Since we list Russian as his working language, the Russian form of his legal name, "Кличка, Вацлав", is currently entered in the Legal Name field. The Czech version of the name, "Klička, Václav", and the fully Romanized version, "Klichka, Vaclav", appear in the Transliterated Legal Name field.
  • Directory Entry - This field contains the author's family name. It is used to build the Author Directory. At the moment, the directory is based on the English version of the Latin alphabet, so only English letters "A" through "z" and punctuation are allowed in this field. Accented Latin characters should be replaced with their closest English equivalent. Non-Latin characters should be replaced with their most common transliterated (Romanized) values.
  • Note that when a new author is added to the ISFDB database, the filing process parses the entered name and tries to guess the author's family name by looking for the last component of the entered name. For example, for "Robert Heinlein" the automatically determined family name will be "Heinlein". The filing algorithm ignores suffixes like "Jr.", so for "L. E. Modesitt, Jr." the automatically determined family name will be "Modesitt". However, there are cases where the automated parsing algorithm guesses incorrectly, in which case the "Directory Entry" value needs to be corrected manually after the fact. The following scenarios are common:
    • Family names consisting of two or more words. For example, "R. Garcia y Robertson" should be filed in the directory under "Garcia y Robertson", but the software will enter "Robertson" in the "Directory Entry" field. Similarly, "Ursula K. Le Guin" should be filed under "Le Guin", but the software will enter "Guin" in the "Directory Entry" field.
    • Hungarian, Japanese and other names where the family name appears first. The software will use the last component of the entered name, i.e. the personal name, instead.
    • Author names that include non-Latin characters, e.g. Cyrillic or kanji. The value of the "Directory Entry" name will need to be changed to the Latin transliteration of the family name manually.
  • Birth Place - Place of birth of the author. Use the "Municipality, Administrative division, Country" format, e.g. "Ante, Champagne, France" or "Annapolis, Maryland, USA".
    • If the exact location is not known, enter the part that is known, e.g. "Japan" or "Quebec, Canada".
    • For countries that belonged to multinational entities at the time of the author's birth, include the name of that entity at the end, e.g. "Ménil-la-Horgne, Duchy of Bar, Holy Roman Empire" or "Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England, UK".
    • For locations whose names have changed over time, use the name as of the time of the author's birth, e.g. for authors born in Lviv between 1773 and 1918, use "Lemberg".
    • For locations whose name is transcribed differently in different languages, use the English version, e.g. "The Hague" rather than "Den Haag", "La Haye" or "L'Aia".
    • For places in England and Scotland, use the following names:
      • "Kingdom of England [or Scotland]" for dates prior to 1707-05-01
      • "England [or Scotland], Kingdom of Great Britain" for dates between 1707-05-01 and 1800-12-31
      • "England [or Scotland], UK" for 1801-01-01 or later dates
    • For places in Russia:
      • Prior to 1721-11-02: Russia
      • 1721-11-02 through 1917-09-13: Russian Empire
      • 1917-09-14 through 1922-12-29: Russia
      • 1922-12-30 through 1991-12-25: Russia, USSR
      • After 1991-12-26: Russia
    • For Tokyo, Japan:
      • 1889 through 1943: Tokyo was considered an actual city during this time period, so use "Tokyo City".
      • After 1943: Tokyo became a metropolis (a prefectural-level division). It is made up of 62 different municipalities. When possible, please include one of those 62 municipalities whenever indicating someone was born in Tokyo. For example, "Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan" or "Adachi, Tokyo, Japan".
  • Birth Date - Should be in the form YYYY-MM-DD. If the day is unknown, then use YYYY-MM-00. If the month is unknown use YYYY-00-00. If the birthdate is unknown, leave the field blank. Do not enter guesstimates (1956?) or approximations (c1956). Examples:
  • Death Date - The Death Date has the same format as the Birth Date, YYYY-MM-DD. If the author is known to be alive or if there is no reliable information about the author, leave the field blank. However, if the author was born more than 125 years ago and is therefore presumably dead, it is permissible to enter a death date of 0000-00-00 . Examples:
  • Working Language - The Working Language field is populated using a drop-down box which lists all languages supported by ISFDB. It defaults to your user-specific language value, which is usually English unless you have changed it in your User Preferences. Make sure to change the value if the author's primary language is not the same as your default language. For bilingual authors enter the more frequently used language.
  • Email Address - If the author's email address is public, i.e. stated on the author's Web page in plain (unobscured) text or otherwise publicly posted, enter it here. If the author has no email address, leave this field blank. If the author has more than one public e-mail address, click on the '+' button next to the field label and more "Email Address" fields will appear on the page. There is no limit to the number of email addresses that can be entered for an author. Example:
  • Web Page - Enter the URL of a Web page about this author.
    • Eligible pages include:
      • Author- and fan-run sites
      • Biographic and bibliographic pages from online encyclopedias like The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Wikipedia
      • Author-specific pages provided by publishers
      • Author-specific pages at social bibliography sites like Librarything and Goodreads
    • Reviews and interviews should only be used if there is no other online information about the author. Bookstore pages should be avoided.
    • If you need to enter additional Web pages, click on the '+' button next to the field label and a new "Web Page" field will appear. There is no limit to the number of Web pages that can be entered for an author.
  • Author Image - If there is an image of the author available on the Web and we have permission to link to the Web site that hosts the image, enter the URL of the image. For instance:

Please note that linking directly to Wikipedia-hosted images is not allowed since Wikipedia considers it bandwidth theft. However it is often possible to download an image from Wikipedia and re-upload it to the ISFDB server.

  • Note - This field is for bibliographic notes about the author. It can be used to document the sources that were used to compile author-specific information. It can also be used to enter brief biographical data, especially for authors who do not have other biographical pages on the Internet. Limited HTML and templates can be used in this field -- see Help:Using Templates and HTML in Note Fields for more details.
  • Note to Moderator - An optional note to the reviewing moderator to clarify any issues that may arise when approving the submitted data. Any data entered into this field will not become a part of the permanent database record.