Bibliographic Management | Factfile


Introduction Button Cataloguing Rules Button Cataloguing Formats Button Classification Button Cataloguing Formats Button
Item Formats Button Standard Numbers button Other Metadata Schemas Button FAQs Button Glossary Button

Return to home page

ISMN (International Standard Music Number)

What is the ISMN?

The ISMN is a unique machine-readable identification number for printed music publications from all over the world, whether the item is a part, a score, or an element in a multi-media kit.

The ISMN was published in 1993 as ISO Standard 10957. The ISMN numbering system is managed by the International ISMN Agency.

The number has 10 alpha-numeric characters consisting of four elements. When printed, 'ISMN' should always precede the number.

Mthe prefix M distinguishing the ISMN from other standard numbers
2306a publisher ID which identifies a certain music publisher (large publishers are allocated shorter identifiers and small publishers are allocated longer identifiers)
7118an item ID which identifies a specific music publication
7 a check digit which validates the number mathematically

E.g. ISMN : M-2306-7118-7

The item may also be printed with its EAN version in both barcode and number versions. The EAN begins with the prefix 979 and replaces the M with a zero.

E.g. 979-02306-7118-7

Notes on use

An ISMN, once allocated, must not be re-used under any circumstances to avoid confusion.

ISMN Agency

The ISMN Agency promotes, co-ordinates and supervises the worldwide use of the ISMN system. It publishes a User's Manual (available in an online version from the Agency's website), which gives detail on how the number is constructed, when ISMNs should be assigned (e.g. for new editions) and conversion of the number to the EAN.

Recording an ISMN in MARC 21

ISMNs should be recorded in Field 024.2 ISMN

Back to top

Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 08-Jun-2005
Email comments to: