Frequently asked questions (FAQ) - National ISSN Centre for Germany
- What is the ISSN?
- What are the advantages of ISSNs?
- What is a serial publication?
- Which publications are given an ISSN?
- How can I obtain an ISSN for my publication(s)?
- Are ISSNs also issued to online publications?
- When are new ISSNs assigned?
- Can an ISSN be applied for even before the first edition of a new title appears?
- Is a new ISSN required for each issue of a publication?
- Are different ISSNs issued for different media versions of a publication?
- What is the ISSN-L?
- Where and in what form should the ISSN be printed?
- What does the ISSN convey?
- What is the difference between the ISSN and the ISBN?
- Is a record kept of all the ISSNs issued in the world?
- Is there a national ISSN centre in my country?
- Are ISSNs mandatory?
- How much does it cost to have an ISSN issued?
- Can the ISSN be used as part of the barcode?
- Does the publication receive copyright/title protection once an ISSN has been issued?
- Does the issue of an ISSN represent a statement on the quality of the content of a serial publication?
What is the ISSN?
The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an internationally binding standard code, the sole purpose of which is to identify, concisely and uniquely, periodically issued publications - regardless of the language, script, citation form, publishing house, country of publication etc. It contains no information on the content, e.g. regarding the publisher or the country of publication. The ISSN is an eight-figure number consisting of the (Arabic) numerals 0 - 9. It is identified by the prefix "ISSN". The last digit is a check digit and can also be an "X" (e.g. ISSN 0176-6996, ISSN 1430-855X).
What are the advantages of ISSNs?
The ISSN facilitates the automatic administration of serial publications in publishing houses, agencies, book shops and libraries. It serves as an aid for efficient document delivery. The ISSN is also very helpful in title searches, as it gives the publication a globally unique identifier. The ISSN can make sales channels more efficient and more profitable through the use of barcodes and EDI (Electronic Data Interchange); the same applies for the internal administration of publications. The ISSN is recorded along with the bibliographical details in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie and in the international ISSN portal, permitting free global dissemination of the publication data.
What is a serial publication?
A publication appearing on a serial basis in printed or any other form, generally carrying a numerical or chronological designation, and that has no planned termination date at the outset. This definition excludes publications that are to appear in a fixed number of volumes. The ISSN is valid for all types of serials, irrespective of whether they are (were) published in the past, at present or in the foreseeable future. Journals, series of writings, newspapers, annuals etc. are included in the definition of serial publications.
Which publications are given an ISSN?
An ISSN can be issued for all serial publications which appear with no predetermined end, regardless of their physical form. This applies for printed publications, but also for online publications, CD-ROMs, DVDs. The publications generally have a numerical or chronological identifier, e.g. Issue 1 (2009) or Volume 1 (2009) or "Spring 2009", "Annual Report 2009"..
How can I obtain an ISSN for my publication(s)?
Please check first whether your publication is a serial publication. To obtain an ISSN, send the required documents (current copy or, in case of pre-publication assignment, the files of the cover page, title page, imprint) with a cover letter to the National ISSN Centre for Germany. The application may also be submitted by email. In the case of online publications, a copy of the current edition should be attached, or the activated URL given.
These documents do not take the place of the legal deposit submission to the German National Library.
Are ISSNs also issued to online publications?
Yes. You can also obtain an ISSN for an online publication assuming it is a serial publication carrying a number or date. An application can normally only be submitted for an ISSN for online publications once they have been published in the internet. Please attach the current edition to your cover note or give the activated URL. As part of its system for the submission and archiving of online publications, the German National Library is developing an online procedure for assigning ISSNs to online publications. These developments include revising and developing the criteria for issuing ISSNs. Until a new procedure is introduced, ISSNs may be issued to online publications which
- correspond to the guidelines for ISSN assignment last amended in 2002. These state that, on the basis of the resolution of the ISSN Directors Conference, no ISSNs should be assigned to certain types of online publications (e.g. weblogs, mailing lists, websites).
- fulfill the criteria of the legal deposit regulation and the collection guidelines for online publications of the German National Library. These guidelines were drawn up on the basis of the new Law regarding the German National Library dated 22 June 2006
- and are released by commercial publishing houses
- or are issued by university publishers
- or are published by publishing organisations which already work with ISSNs.
When are new ISSNs assigned?
New ISSNs are issued if the title of the publication changes. Title changes are defined in the "ISSN Manual". A new ISSN is also required if the publication changes its medium, e.g. from print to Internet publication.
The ISSN is not altered in the event of the following changes: publisher, location, frequency of publication, publisher targets.
Please report mergers with other titles, supplements and other editions to the relevant ISSN centre, thereby permitting a separate ISSN to be assigned if necessary.
Can an ISSN be applied for even before the first edition of a new title appears?
Yes, pre-publication assignment is possible in certain cases. The ISSN centre responsible requires information on the title and a draft of the cover page, title page and imprint in the ISSN application
Is a new ISSN required for each issue of a publication?
No, because the ISSN identifies the entire series of the serial publication and is only altered if the title of the publication is changed.
Are different ISSNs issued for different media versions of a publication?
Generally, editions issued simultaneously in different media (print, online publications, electronic publications on physical data carriers) are assigned their own ISSN, even though they share the same title.
What is the ISSN-L?
Different ISSNs are issued if a publication appears under the same title in different media versions (print, Internet, CD-ROM).
The ISSN-L (ISSN-Linking) is the superordinate ISSN which applies for all media versions of the same title. It is generated by the International ISSN Centre. The ISSN-L makes it easier to manage different media versions of the same title.
ISSN of print edition 0341-051X
ISSN of Internet edition 1438-9940
Where and in what form should the ISSN be printed?
The preferred position for the ISSN is close to the title, on the title or cover page. A further suitable place is in the imprint. The ISSN should always be prefixed with the letters "ISSN". The ISSN should always appear clearly and at the same place in every issue, volume, annual etc.
In the case of electronic publications issued on physical data carriers, the ISSN should also, where possible, be cited as an internal source, e.g. on the title or imprint page. In online publications, please quote the ISSN on the title or publication details screen.
What does the ISSN convey?
In contrast to the ISBN (for monographs) which contains content-based information about e.g. the publisher or the country of publication, the ISSN is simply an identification number; it carries no information about the content. The ISSN is also firmly linked to the title of the publication (key title) and remains assigned to it as long as it continues to appear in unchanged form.
What is the difference between the ISSN and the ISBN?
ISSNs are assigned to serial publications. ISBNs are issued to monographs (books). An ISSN can be issued to a series as a whole; an ISBN is then issued to the individual monographs in this series.
ISSNs are assigned by a coordinated network of national ISSN centres, as each serial publication needs to be uniquely identified to distinguish it from identical or similar titles published elsewhere in the world.
The ISBN system has a different structure. An identifying ISBN prefix is assigned to each publisher. The publisher is given a quota of ISBNs, which it can then assign to its publications successively. In Germany, MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, Frankfurt am Main is responsible for issuing ISBNs.
Is a record kept of all the ISSNs issued in the world?
Yes. All the ISSNs assigned within the ISSN system are recorded together with key bibliographical information in the ISSN database which is managed by the International ISSN Centre.
The "ISSN Portal" database can be accessed from the ISSN International Centre, Paris, on the World Wide Web. Free trial access can be set up on request for a period of 30 days. Please contact the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there a national ISSN centre in my country?
The Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland is responsible for the Federal Republic of Germany:
Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
Tel. + 49-69-1525-1481 or -1473
Fax + 49-69-1525-1414
A list of all ISSN centres can be found on the homepage of the International ISSN Centre, Paris.
Are ISSNs mandatory?
ISSNs are not mandatory in Germany. In some countries, all serial publications subject to the deposit copy law must be given an ISSN. Publishers are obliged to print the ISSN in every issue.
How much does it cost to have an ISSN issued?
ISSNs are issued free of charge.
Can the ISSN be used as part of the barcode?
Yes, the ISSN is used as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN - formerly EAN) component, the most important retail barcode symbol commonly used around the world. Further information can be obtained from GS1 Germany, Cologne.
Does the publication receive copyright/title protection once an ISSN has been issued?
No, copyright/title protection is not linked to assignment of the ISSN. Different publications may have the same or similar titles. However, in some countries reproduction rights agencies use ISSNs in their system management to determine copyright payments and fees for copied articles.
Does the issue of an ISSN represent a statement on the quality of the content of a serial publication?
Before an ISSN is issued, the only aspect which is checked is whether the publication meets the formal criteria for a serial publication set out in the ISSN definitions, thereby allowing an ISSN to be issued. The content is not checked, nor is the quality of the articles or contributions in the serial publication evaluated. The issue of an ISSN therefore does not represent a statement on the quality of a publication's content.
Last update: 21.12.2012