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Output of NLM Subject Headings in the Conventional String

Question: Why did NLM decide to output its subject headings in the conventional string?


  • based on advice received from a number of medical libraries, NLM recombines topical subject headings, geographic descriptors, and publicaton types (PTs, aka form divisions) to form the conventional subject heading string in MARC records distributed to licensees.
  • the instructions on how to recombine main headings or main headings and topical subject headings, geographics and publication types (PTs, aka form divisions) are given in Use of Medical Subject Headings for Cataloging section ( of the annual Introduction to MeSH found at

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