Number Line in Modern Trade Publications
(Approved for use August 8, 2007)

Printing information in modern trade publications (from the 1980s on) is often found in the "number line", usually on the t.p. verso. Publishers that consistently use this line include W.W. Norton, Little Brown, Houghton Mifflin, Scribner, Harper Collins, Simon & Shuster. Random House uses it for works they publish, but Knopf, which is distributed through Random House, does not use a number line, but will have: "First edition", "First printing", etc.

In the 1920s, Harpers used a code to indicate printing.

The number line appears in various ways; sometimes dates are included. The number (and date if included) of the printing is the earliest number that appears.

Examples of number lines that indicate "first printings" are:

QUM 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 3 2

Examples of number lines that indicate "second printings" are:

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3

Number lines that include dates:

03 04 05 06 07 5 4 3 2 1 [i.e., First printing, 2003]

When the number line includes characters that cannot be reproduced in a catalog record, omit the characters and replace with the mark of omission:

On piece: 94 95 96 97 98 /RRD 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 [i.e., Second printing, 1994]
In record: 94 95 96 97 98 .../RRD 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Always transcribe a number line when one is present: in a 500 note when a catalog record for each printing is being created or in a 590 note when one record is created for all printings of an editon.

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