Music Cataloging at Yale MARC Tagging

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Filing Indicators But Were Afraid to Ask

By Martha Conway, former Catalog Management Librarian, Yale University Library
With additions by Mickey Koth

Yale's policy concerning MARC 21:

What is a filing indicator || MARC fields and filing indicators || Characters to be ignored || Summary || PCC policy


What is a filing indicator?

A filing indicator is used to indicate the number of characters that are to be ignored when a title is indexed. (For a list of initial articles in foreign languages, see List of initial articles.)


MARC fields and filing indicators:

Some title fields have filing indicators and some do not.

If a field has a filing indicator, the title should be entered as it is found on the piece (including initial articles, if any) and the filing indicator should be set so that those initial articles are skipped when the title is searched.

If a field does not have a filing indicator, initial articles (such as A, An, or The) must be omitted when the title is recorded.

Which MARC fields do not have filing indicators?

The following fields do not have filing indicators. Omit initial articles when recording the title.

246 Varying form of title
t (any field) Title of a work
p (any field) Name of a part/section of a work

Which MARC fields do have filing indicators?

The following fields have filing indicators. Record the title as it is found on the piece, including any initial article. Set the filing indicator by entering the number of characters in the article, plus spaces, punctuation, and diacritics that precede the first filing character. If the title does not begin with an article, enter 0.

242 Translation of Title (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)
245 Title statement (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)
440 Series Statement (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)

Aren't there other MARC fields that have filing indicators?

The following fields also have filing indicators. However, AACR2 1988 rev. prescribes that you do not enter initial articles in uniform titles. Because cataloging practices have varied, some records have titles with articles and filing indicator values. Current practice is to enter the title without the initial article and use 0 for the filing indicator.

130 Main Entry--Uniform Title (the 1st indicator is a filing indicator)
240 Uniform Title (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)
243 Collective Uniform Title (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)
630 Subject Added Entry--Uniform Title (the 1st indicator is a filing indicator)
730 Added Entry--Uniform Title (the 1st indicator is a filing indicator)
740 Added Entry--Uncontrolled Title (the 1st indicator is a filing indicator)
830 Series Added Title--Uniform Title (the 2nd indicator is a filing indicator)



Characters that are to be ignored


The following information is taken from Change in Practice for Counting Non-Filing Characters in MARC 21 and Counting non-filing characters chart and from e-mail correspondence with Ana Lupe Cristan in consultation with Kay Guiles

What to count when determining the filing indictor What not to count when determining the filing indicator
  • initial article
  • blank space
  • alif
  • any mark of punctuation preceding the first filing character, including a bracket, apostrophe, quotation mark, and hyphens when an initial article that is to be ignored in filing is involved
  • a diacritic associated with the first filing character
  • characters representing the word "and": ampersand, plus sign
  • any mark of punctuation preceding the first filing character, including a bracket, apostrophe, quotation mark, and hyphens that is not associated with an initial article
Characters that can be considered a first filing character:
  • alphabetic characters:
    • Latin letters
    • AE and OE digraphs, crossed d, Polish L, hooked o and u, slashed o, etc.
  • numbers:
    • Arabic numbers
    • super and subscript numbers
  • other characters:
    • hatch mark (#)
    • ampersand
    • plus sign
Examples, with characters to be ignored in bold red
245 12 L'été ... initial article and apostrophe to be ignored; "é" is first filing character
245 14 The_part ... initial article and space to be ignored; "p" is first filing character
245 15 [The_part] ... bracket, initial article, and space to be ignored; "p" is first filing character
245 15 The_"part" ... initial article, space, and quotation mark to be ignored; "p" is first filing character
245 10 "Part" ... no initial article, so quotation mark is not counted as a character to be ignored; "p" is first filing character


In summary:

1. Record initial articles in fields 242, 245, and 440 only. Set the filing indicator accordingly.
2. Do not record initial articles in field 246.
3. Do not record initial articles in t or p in any field.
4. Do not record initial articles in fields 130, 240, 243, 630, 730, 740, or 830 unless you are transcribing pre-AACR2 retrospective copy, in which case you may record initial articles and set the filing indicator accordingly.
5. Ignore punctuation at the beginning of a title unless it occurs as part of an initial article.


PCC policy:

Posted to the PCCLIST on April 22, 2003 from Ana Cristán, BIBCO Coordinator, and Kay Guiles, CPSO:

The BIBCO Coordinator and CPSO have worked with representatives of OCLC and RLG to formulate the following response to the request for clarification from Steven Arakawa, Yale, regarding counting non-filing characters.

When MARC 21 was issued in 1999 the method of counting non-filing characters was clarified. That clarification resulted in a change in practice that the Library of Congress implemented on February 20, 2003 (http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/nonfil.html). Since the method of counting non-filing characters is a MARC 21 convention, presumably the aim of all PCC participants would be, sooner or later, to follow that convention if they haven’t been since 1999. When to make the adjustment needed to follow the convention as currently stated in MARC 21 may be influenced by considerations related to local systems or to the bibliographic utilities. LC kept both OCLC and RLIN apprised of its schedule and of the details of its implementation and both have indicated that they are currently able to handle the old and new conventions.

In cataloging a PCC record today, follow the current MARC 21 convention for counting non-filing characters if that convention is supported by the local system or bibliographic utility one is working in. If that is not possible, follow the convention that is supported at the time of input. The ultimate goal will be eventually for all to follow the MARC 21 convention.


Comments to Mickey Koth Yale University Music Library
©Yale University Library Last revised July 9, 2012.