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

Module 7—Publication Characteristics


  • Publication characteristics or publication types are used to indicate what an item is, as opposed to what it is about

  • Publication characteristics are listed in Category V of the MeSH trees. They have the annotation: “This heading is used as a Publication Type”

  • The complete list of publication characteristics with scope notes can be found here.

  • Many publication characteristics have a corresponding “as topic” descriptor to distinguish between the descriptors that are “about” certain topics and the publication characteristics that reflect the form or format of the information presented (e.g. Dictionary vs. Dictionaries as Topic).

  • A publication characteristic must be applicable to at least 20% of the resource being cataloged

  • Multiple publication characteristics may be assigned
    • If more than one publication characteristic is appropriate, assign them in order of importance


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Last Reviewed: July 21, 2017