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Cataloging: Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in Cataloging

Module 2—Introduction to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and the MeSH Browser

page 7 of 24


MeSH Heading and Unique Identifier

  • MeSH Heading
    • The preferred term for a descriptor
      • Often a broader concept that includes narrower sub-concepts
  • Unique Identifier
    • Seven-character alpha-numeric string uniquely identifying a descriptor
    • Always starts with the letter “D”

Tree Number

  • Alpha-numeric string referring to the location of the term within a hierarchy
  • Used for drilling down in the MeSH vocabulary
    • Example
      • C02.839.040 is one of the tree numbers for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Screen capture of MeSH Browser showing the tree number for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

  • Shorter tree numbers indicate more general terms
  • Longer tree numbers indicate more specific terms
  • Tree numbers are MeSH attributes and should not be confused with classification numbers


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