Key to Publication Details

When you order a book it helps if you know certain details, to make sure you get exactly what you wanted. Gwybodiadur uses the conventions of the APA (American Psychological Association). Below is an example of the standard way a book is listed:

Evans, Bethan W. et al. (1993) Gair i Gall: Geiriadur Sylfaenol i Ddysgwyr [‘A Word to the Wise: A Basic Dictionary for Learners’; a.k.a. The Acen Dictionary for Learners]. Cardiff: Acen Cyf., ISBN 1-874049-21-1, 125×185mm, xviii/250pp, 9.99 p/b, o/p.

And here is an explanation of what all the details mean:

Evans, Bethan W. et al.[1] (1993)[2] Gair i Gall[3]: Geiriadur Sylfaenol i Ddysgwyr[4] [‘A Word to the Wise: A Basic Dictionary for Learners’[5]; a.k.a. The Acen Dictionary for Learners[6]]. Cardiff[7]: Acen Cyf.[8], ISBN 1-874049-21-1[9], 125×185mm[10], xviii/250pp[11], 9.99[12] p/b[13], o/p[14].

[1] author(s)
[2] year of publication
[3] main title
[4] subsidiary title, if any
[5] English translation of title
[6] publisher’s English title, if any
[7] place of publication
[8] publisher
[9] International Standard Book Number
[10] dimensions (in millimetres)
[11] number of pages
[12] price
[13] format (paperback, hardback or vinyl)
[14] out of print

Some abbreviations: p/b paperback; h/b hardback; o/p out of print; pp pages; vol. volume; p&p postage and packing; et al. et alii (‘and others’); a.k.a. also known as.

Quoting these details, most importantly author, title, publisher and ISBN, should avoid any confusion between similar titles, or different editions of the same book.

Note that there’s an important difference between an ‘edition’ and a ‘printing’ or ‘impression’. The way these terms are usually used today, an edition is a revised version of the book, whereas a printing is just what happens when they run out of stock and have to print some more copies; the new printing may possibly have a few very minor changes such as corrected misprints, but nothing more than that. People often tell me that they have, say, the 1990 edition of such and such a dictionary, whereas in fact the text may not have been updated for decades. What’s important is how old the text (content) is, not your copy of it. Of course publishers like to make you think you’re getting something new, for example by redesigning the front cover every so often, or even by resetting the text in a new typeface or a different format (physical size of book), and these changes may even result in a new ISBN. To get a better idea of what you’re dealing with, try looking at the ‘imprint page’ at the front of the book, where the dates of the various editions and printings are listed; but you should also look through the text to see whether it has the up-to-date words and meanings you need. For more advice on this, see the dictionaries background page.

© 1999–2001 Harry Campbell
Page added: December 2001