International Identifier for serials
and other continuing resources, in the electronic and print world

ISSN, a standardised code




 Send to a friend

ISSN is governed by a specific ISO standard. It also obeys other ISO standards used in the library and publishing world.

  • ISSN and ISO standards
  • Other standards
  • Other identification codes

ISSN and ISO standards

The ISSN standard: ISO 3297

The ISO 3297 standard was drafted in 1971, published for the first time in 1975, and revised on a regular basis since that date. It contains the definition of ISSN and the related standardised rules of application. It has made the ISSN a tool to be used internationally in the most diverse contexts. ISO has designated the ISSN International Centre as the agency with official authority concerning ISSN registration.

The ISO 4 standard for abbreviations

The ISO 4 standard defines the rules for the abbreviation of title words and titles of publications. The words in the List of Title Word Abbreviations are abbreviated in accordance with this standard. The ISSN International Centre is the agency that maintains this standard. In accordance with the scope of this standard, the abbreviations can also be used for titles of non-serial publications.

The ISO 2709 standard for bibliographic records

The ISO 2709 computer format is the universal standard used in the library world for bibliographic records. Libraries that do not have an integrated management system can use records based on ISO 2709 format via tools such as MARC RTP, or those offered by the Library of Congress.

Other standards

As an international identifier, the ISSN also uses other various standards:

  • transliteration rules,
  • character sets,
  • language codes,
  • country codes.

 Other identification codes

The principle of a standardised international identification code exists in other fields. Accordingly:

  • monographs (books) are identified by ISBN (International Standard Book Number),
  • musical scores by ISMN (International Standard Music Number),
  • sound recordings by ISRC (International Standard Recording Code),
  • etc.

Each of these codes has a specific and well-defined scope, as well as its own logic.

The Standards mentioned below fall under the responsibility of ISO TC46/SC9 which deals with identification and description.

ISO 2108:2005 Information and documentation — International standard book number (ISBN)

ISO 3297:2007 Information and documentation — International standard serial number (ISSN)

ISO 3901:2001 Information and documentation — International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

ISO 10957:2009 Information and documentation — International standard music number (ISMN)

ISO 15706-1:2002 Information and documentation — International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN) — Part 1: Audiovisual work identifier

ISO 15706-2:2007 Information and documentation — International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN) — Part 2: Version identifier

ISO 15707:2001 Information and documentation — International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC)

ISO 21047:2009 Information and documentation — International Standard Text Code (ISTC)

ISO 27729:2012 Information and documentation — International standard name identifier (ISNI)

ISO 27730:2012 Information and documentation — International standard collection identifier (ISCI)

ISO 26324:2012 Information et documentation – Digital Object Identifier System (DOI)

DOI Registration Authority : International Digital Object Identifier Foundation, Inc., Linkside Avenue 5, GB-Oxford OX2 8HY, United Kingdom • Tel:  +44 1865 559070 •  Fax: +44 1865 31 44 75 • Web:

What is ISO? ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) is a non-governmental organisation created in 1947. It is made up of approximately 140 national standards bodies. Its mission is to favour the development of standardisation in the world, in order to:

  • facilitate exchanges of goods and services between nations, and
  • develop cooperation in intellectual, scientific, technical and economic fields.

ISO’s work results in international agreements that are published in the form of international Standards.

ISO TC 46 the technical committee for information and documentation

TC 46 is the name of the ISO Technical Committee working on standardising current practices in libraries, documentation and information centres, indexing and abstracting services, archives, information science and publishing.

Click here to learn more

Worth knowing

The ISSN can, among other things, be applied to monograph collections: a monograph belonging to a collection can have both an ISSN (identifying the collection) and an ISBN (identifying the monograph in the collection).