Visual Materials: 300

300 (Physical Description) Required

Extent and Specific Material Designation (SMD)
Single items
300 ‡a  [Extent] [Specific material] :

Choose a term from the list below for the specific material designation: 

  • drawing(s)
  • painting(s)
  • photograph(s)
  • print(s)
         or, as a last resort:
  • item(s)
  • picture(s)

Multiple types of material
When describing a multipart resource containing more than one type of material, record the number of component parts for each type, or use “items” or “pictures”.

          300__ ‡a 7 photographs and 1 print

(Comment: Publicity material for a film with seven movie stills and one sheet of
potential newspaper advertisements.)

Containers and physical carriers for multipart resources

Record the number and type of containers or physical carriers immediately following the specific material designation when they are original to the material and necessary to accurately communicate its extent.

Container and physical carrier terms that may be added to the specific material designation include, but are not limited to:

  • album
  • sketchbook
  • portfolio
  • volume
  • scrapbook
  • box
  • CD‐ROM
  • DVD


300 __​ ‡a 100 photographs on 1 CD-ROM​
(Comment: A published CD‐ROM, not a CD-ROM used as an incidental physical carrier for delivery of image files)
300 __ ‡a 15 prints in 1 portfolio
300 __ ‡a 25 photographs in 1 box
(Comment: Material consists of one portfolio and one box, issued as a set by the artist)
300 __ ‡a  21 drawings in 1 volume
(Comment: Cataloger judged the item to be a multipart resource because the volume is a finished product assembled in imitation of a published book.)

Multiple images on one support:

300 __ ‡a 2 drawings on 1 sheet​
300 __ ‡a 2 photographs on 1 card mount 

Treat photographs printed photo-mechanically as photographs.
Treat the paired images of a stereograph as a single item.

300 __ ‡a 1 photograph

Treat other non‐photographic images printed photo-mechanically as prints. Record the medium or process of production in the other physical details element.

Other physical details
Record additional physical characteristics of material as appropriate to the materials and cataloger expertise, including medium, primary and secondary supports, photographic form (e.g., print, transparency), and color. Whenever possible, use standard terminology from resources such as the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials and the Art an Architecture Thesaurus.

For loose photos and prints: use terms for specific technical processes where positive identification is possible. Example of terms: cyanotypes, engravings, salted paper prints, albumen prints, sepia wash over pencil, watercolor over pencil, etc.

300 ‡b [medium], [color] [support] ; 



300 __ ‡a 1 photograph : ‡b color print
300 __ ‡a 1 photograph :‡b  negative, collodion on glass
300 __ ‡a 15 photographs : ‡b gelatin silver and albumen prints
300 __ ‡a 1 photograph : ‡b photogram
300 __ ‡a 1 drawing : ‡b computer-aided design
(Comment: Example is a print‐out of a CAD drawing)
300 __ ‡a 24 photographs : ‡b transparencies
Comment: A set of educational lantern slides)

Born‐digital images (Subfield ‡c is not used for digital formats)


45 photographs : digital, JPEGs
10 photographs on 1 CD-ROM : digital, TIFFs
1 drawing : digital, PDF, computer-aided design

For non‐photographic prints, provide information about the specific method of printing, the support, or other physical characteristics. 

300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b relief 
300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b engraving ​
300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b intaglio 
300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b photogravure 
300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b on green paper
300 __ ‡a 1 print : ‡b photomechanical 

For drawing and paintings, provide information about the medium, production tools, support, etc.

300 __ ‡a 1 drawing : ‡b pen and ink on paper ​
300 __ ‡a 1 painting : ‡b oil on canvas
300 __ ‡a 1 picture : ‡b cut-paper silhouette

Size and dimensions

300  ‡c [what is being measured] [size height x width], on [support, size height x width] 

Generally record dimensions in terms of height x width (as the image would be viewed) and specify what is being measured, recording the height first, and record dimensions in centimeters rounded up to the nearest whole centimeter. If the material measures less than 10 centimeters in the longest dimension, give the dimensions in millimeters, or if the convention of the format is to record size in millimeters (i.e., slide film) or when measuring plate marks of intaglio prints which are traditionally expressed using millimeters.

1 drawing ; sheet 18 x 14 cm
         Optional note: Vertical orientation
1 photograph : gelatin silver print ; sheet 26 x 21 cm
         Comment: This Example is a standard 8 x 10 photographic print
1 photograph : nitrate negative ; film width 35 mm
         Comment: Example is one frame of film.
1 print : etching ; plate mark 83 x 67 mm 
        Comment: Plate marks of intaglio prints are traditionally measured in millimeters.

Format: Record information about the format (i.e., physical presentation) for material commonly described in terms of format. Add the format followed by the word “format” in parentheses following the dimensions element.

1 photograph : color photomechanical print ; sheet 9 x 14 cm (postcard format)
1 print : lithograph, color ; sheet 80 x 55 cm (poster format)
1 photograph : gelatin silver print, black and white ; sheet 26 x 21 cm (8 x 10 format)
         Comment: Dimensions are given as height x width, format is given according
         to common English usage, with the smaller number first)
1 photograph : safety negative ; 35 mm (roll format)
         Comment: Record is for a single frame of film)
1 photograph : nitrate negative ; sheet 13 x 11 cm (4 x 5 format)
1 photograph : print ; mount 9 x 18 cm (stereograph format)
         Comment: Example is a full stereograph.
1 photograph : transparency on glass, hand colored ; 9 x 11 cm (lantern slide format)

For albums:
Measurements are of album, not individual prints. Measurements of individual prints may be given in the 500 field.
For daguerreotypes, specify the plate size, if known. Plate sizes for daguerreotypes are:

300 __ ‡a 1 photograph : ‡b daguerreotype ; ‡c plate 50 x 60 mm (ninth plate format)
300 __ ‡a 1 photograph : ‡b ambrotype ;‡c visible image 88 x 65 mm (quarter plate format)