Variant Editions Checklist (RDA)


These guidelines may be applied to books (monographs-only) under the following categories. Source copy should be full-level.

Item in hand Source Copy
Later edition Earlier edition
Earlier edition Later edition
British, Canadian, etc. edition American edition
American edition British, Canadian, etc. edition
Translation Original
Original Translation

In general, do not apply these guidelines if the source copy is for a reproduction or edition in a different format (your item is print; bib record is for an electronic or microform resource).

Typical record for the item in hand may be a brief record created in Orbis, an E/L 5 vendor record, or an MLC record created by LC or a member library.  Full cataloging unavailable from OCLC for the item in hand.

Statistics: count as original


a. If the source record is in Orbis, tile the record being cataloged and the source record and then copy and paste the relevant fields from the source record to the record being cataloged.

b. If the source record is only in OCLC, export the record and then overlay the record to be cataloged, then edit the overlaid record to match the item in hand. In that case, particular care must be made to update the 008 fields and delete inapplicable variable fields carried over from the source record.

c. If the source record is in Orbis, use the Voyager copy command to make a copy of the source record and use the copy record to overlay the record to be cataloged, then edit the overlaid record to match the item in hand. This method must be used with great care, or a duplicate record will load into Orbis instead of overlaying the record to be updated. Unless you are familiar with the use of the copy command procedures, do not use this technique.


1. Leader:

Encoding level should be: blank if created in Orbis; I if created in OCLC.

Cataloging Form should be: i [ISBD] not a [AACR2]

2. 008. Be sure to change the date to match the publication date of your edition.

Make sure the Leader and Fixed Fields match the item being cataloged, especially if techniques b. or c. were used.

2. Typical fields that need to be deleted if source copy is used to overlay the record to be cataloged, or if vendor copy is being upgraded:

010, 029, 035, 045, 049, 082, 653, 9xx.

Note that the 035 for the OCLC source record should be deleted if you overlay variant edition copy on your in-process record. If the 035 for the OCLC source applies to a record you are updating manually, retain it.

3. Typical fields that need to be changed if source copy is used to overlay the record to be cataloged:

020: should be edited to match the item in hand

040: should be modified to: CtY ‡b eng ‡e rda ‡c CtY

050: if the source copy was LC, change the 050 indicators from 00 to _4 & change the call number date. CAUTION: If the copy is old, the classification may be obsolete. Current classification should be used.

090: if there is both a 050 and a 090, delete the 090. If there is no 050, re-tag the 090 to 050 _4, assuming the number is really LC classification.

Keep in mind that you may need to derive the call number you actually assign in the MFHD from editions already cataloged in Orbis, and not the 050/090 used in the source record.

4. Transcription & descriptive information.

245. Edit the 245 to match the item in hand. In the statement of responsibility, transcribe all names; the AACR2 "rule of 3" does not apply to RDA cataloging; include titles if they appear with the name: Professor Jane Jones, University of Connecticut.

1xx. Continue to enter under title if the book is a collection of essays. If the book is a collaboration, enter under the first named author even if there are more than 3. All authors should have the relationship designator "author": Jones, Jane, ‡e author -- Smith, Joan, ‡d 1949- ‡e author. Precede ‡e with a comma unless there is a hyphen. If the record uses 110 or 111, main entry choice does not change.

250. Add or edit the 250 to match the item in hand. Transcribe the edition statement as found, e.g., only abbreviate edition if it is actually abbreviated in the book. The edition statement should always end with a period.

260-->264. If the source copy has used 260, change it to 264 _1. 

  • Edit the place of publication to represent place name as found. If the larger jurisdiction in the place of publication is in brackets, spell out the place-name; do not abbreviate. If the source copy uses abbreviations, spell out the word if it is spelled out on the book, abbreviate if the word is abbreviated on the book. If there is more than one place, transcribe the first place only.
  • Edit the publisher name to represent the publisher name as found. Include hierarchy if the corporate hierarchy is used in the book. Use abbreviations only if they are used in the book. Do not transcribe distributor statements.
  • If the book only has a copyright date, enter it in brackets without the copyright "c." If the date is given in roman numerals, transcribe the date in roman numerals
  • If the book lacks place of publication, publisher name, or any date, consult with your supervisor. Do not use [S.l.], [s.n.], or [n.d.]

300 checklist:

  •  Do not use abbreviations with the exception of "in." (i.e., you should use "pages," "illustrations," "color")
  • Use unnumbered rather than brackets, e.g. 300 __ ‡a 300 pages, 3 unnumbered leaves of plates ...
  • Do not use a period with cm

If the record lacks 336, 337, 338, be sure to enter them. Use of a macro is recommended.

4xx/8xx. Original series may not be present, so be sure not to add it to the record being cataloged if it is not on the item. If a new series is on the item, transcribe it as it appears. Use Staff Title to check Orbis for the established form. If the series has not been established, consult with your supervisor. Remember that under current practice, the ISSN of the series is entered as the last subfield in 830 (‡x)

5xx. Review the notes in the source record for relevance to the record being cataloged. For example, check the number of pages cited in Includes bibliographical references against the book in hand. If the last or first page of a range is unnumbered, supply the number but do not bracket it (or use "unnumbered").

700. Editors continue to be entered in 700. The relationship designator should be: ‡e editor of compilation. Authors (collaborations): if there are 3 or more authors, enter the first named in 100 and enter the next two authors in 700 with the relationship designator ‡e author. We will not generally be making more than two added entries for multiple author situations.  

If you have to key in additional information, remember that diacritics are now entered after the character modified, not before.

6. Headings.

Use the current authorized form. When working with a later edition or a translation, keep in mind that an obsolete form may have been used on the source record.

Watch out for names appearing on the source copy that do not appear on the item cataloged. These names should not be traced in the record for the book you are cataloging.

Watch out for names appearing on the item cataloged that do not appear on the source copy. Decide whether any of the names need to be traced. If the new name represents a person who has contributed a substantial amount of content, the new name should be traced. If a new name needs to be traced, verify the currently authorized form. If there is no NAR, verify that the heading follows current AACR2/LCRI rules for form of entry. Watch out for variant forms of the person's name in Orbis. If the name needs references, have the name established by a cataloger with NACO authorization.

Subjects. If the source copy is old, the subject or the subdivision practice may be obsolete. Current practice should always be used. TIP: if the subject string does not match when saving the record, search in LC Online Catalog. If very few headings are retrieved, consult with a subject specialist.

7. Miscellaneous.

Arrange the variable fields in MARC or AACR2 order if necessary.


1. "Originalausg." in OCLC; "12. Auflage" in Orbis to be cataloged. (Märchen von starken Frauen)

2. 1944 reprint in Orbis with LC cataloging source; 2002 reprint in Orbis to be cataloged (vendor record), different series and publisher. (Diálogos militares)

3. Vendor record for translation in Orbis with LC cataloging for reprints of the original work in OCLC. Complex series involved. (La croisière de la "Janet Nichol")

Effective Date: 
February 5, 2014