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Cataloging and Metadata Management: Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in Cataloging

Module 2— MeSH Records, Descriptors, and Qualifiers (Overview)

MeSH Records (Overview)

Three types of MeSH records

  • Descriptors (main headings)
  • Qualifiers (subheadings)
  • Supplementary Concept Records (not used by Cataloging)


Three types of descriptors

  • Topical
    • Indicate the subject/topic
      • Examples: Body Weight, Kidney, Self-Medication
  • Publication Characteristics (Publication Types)
    • Indicate the genre or format
      • Examples: Atlases, Handbooks, Statistics
  • Geographicals
    • Indicate geographic locations, including historical locations
      • Examples: Atlantic Islands, North America, England, Prussia


  • Qualifiers (subheadings)
    • Used in conjunction with Descriptors to convey a particular aspect of a subject
      • Examples: adverse effects, diagnosis, therapy


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Last Reviewed: May 4, 2017