Glossary search

bibliographic description

Broader Term: 
Distinguish From: 

n. ~ 1. A document that analyzes and structures details about the formal elements of the materials, such as creator, title, dates, extent, and contents, to facilitate the identification, management, and understanding of the work. - 2. The process of creating such a record.


Bibliographic descriptions1 act as surrogates for the things described and are typically assembled into catalogs or bibliographies. Although the term's etymology is tied to the concept of 'book', it is commonly used to refer to the process of creating similar catalogs or lists for other published and nonpublished formats, such as documents, photographs, and moving images, especially when the list contains several formats. Bibliographic description emphasizes the transcription of information found in the materials being described, although the bibliographer or cataloger may supply some explanatory notes.

(Personal communication, Steve Hensen, 17 March 2003) APPM went to some lengths drawing a distinction between bibliographic and archival description; to wit: the former relies more on formal presentation of elements and the subsequent transcription of those elements, the latter more on interpolation and supplying of descriptive data.