Skip to Main Content

Tulane University Digital Library Metadata Guidelines

These guidelines were approved by the Digital Production Review Committee in September 2019.

Basics about Titles

A title is always required.

  • A title is "A word, phrase, character, or group of characters, normally appearing in a resource, that names it or the work contained in it." (MODS:title)
  • Use “Untitled” only when the item is specifically named “Untitled.”
  • If available, use information provided on or with the original materials.
  • Omit quotation marks, parentheses, and brackets when constructing a title.
  • Omit initial articles from title unless the article is an essential part of the title.


Translated and Alternative Titles
  • Translated titles are recommended when they exist and should be placed in a separate column labeled "translated title".
  • If the collection has intended users who read more than one language, a title in each language is recommended, but not required. The original title should be placed in the "Title" column and the translated title placed in a separate column labeled "translated title", even if the original titles are sometimes English and sometimes Spanish.
  • Alternative titles are recommended if they are present on the piece being cataloged, provide a significantly different access point, or if authorized titles for the piece are available. They should be placed in a separate column labeled "alternative title".
  • An example of a title, translated title, and alternative title: When cataloging a volume officially titled Sinfonia Eroica, Heroic Symphony would be appropriate as a translated title (even if it is not included on the object, because our primary audience are likely to use English when searching), and "Bethoveen's 3rd Symphony" or "Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827. Symphonies, no. 3, op. 55, E♭ major" would be options for an alternative title.


Constructing New Titles
  • If no title exists, construct one. See RDA 2.3 or DACs 2.3 (links below) for information on creating new titles.
  • The title should describe the item in basic terms, but should not attempt to supply an exhaustive description. If available, use information provided on or with the original materials.
  • If a title was constructed, do not use brackets or other punctuation inside the field to indicate that it was not found on the resource. Instead, include "Title provided by cataloger" in a note field.
  • Maintain consistency whenever possible. For example, a department will title each photographic object "Photo" or each letter "Letter from [person 1] to [person 2]", rather than some collections using "Photo" and another using "Photograph."


Authorized Titles
  • If the object is a manifestation of a work that is often described in different languages or wordings, the cataloger should look for an authorized title in the Library of Congress Name Authority File (NAF) to use for the authorized access point. Additional thesauri to consult can be found under the Name and Title Authority Source Codes, which provide the codes, titles, and links to a variety of authority files where uniform titles can be found. A separate column labeled "uniform title" should be created for this title and if a URI is included for the title it should be separated from the title by a semicolon and a space ("; ").


Titles for Digital Collections

  • For information about titles for Digital Collections, see the section of the guide titled Technical and Administrative Metadata, Ownership and Location.
Note: Titles are used by the Islandora system to order items in collections. The repository will order items within a collection ​alphabetically by their main title​, using the ASCII values of the characters in the title. Capitalization and punctuation will change the filing order. Numbers will file alphabetically as well, meaning a collection of 12 items with titles such as “Photo 1”, “Photo 2”, etc. will fall in the order Photo 1, Photo 10, Photo 11, Photo 12, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, Photo 5, Photo 6, Photo 7, Photo 8, Photo 9


To avoid unintended sort order results in your collection, be consistent with the use of capitalization and punctuation; carefully consider how dates are used as portions of titles; and when using numbers in titles, add leading zeros so that all numbers have the same amount of digits. (If there are fewer than 10 items, you can use 1-9; if there are between 10-99, use 01-09; if there are 100-999, use 001-099; etc.). See​ for additional information.

About Titles in MODS

Commonly Used MODS Encoding for Titles
  • Titles will be nested inside the top level element "titleInfo".
  • Attributes of titleInfo that will be used most frequently include: lang, type, authority, authorityURI, displayLabel, usage (primary)
    • lang should indicate the language the nested title is written in. It is not an indicator of the language of the resource or the record as a whole. Any time multiple languages are included in a record, it should be included for every title. Use the language codes in ISO 639-2 to record the language in MODS.
    • type is most frequently used to indicate if the nested title is a translated or alternative title. It can also be note if a title is enumerated: abbreviated, translated, alternative, or uniform.
    • authority should include the code from the Library of Congress Name and Title Authority Source Codes, if an authoritative title from one of the thesauri was used. This will most commonly be the Library of Congress Name Authority File.
    • valueURI should be present if that thesaurus contains Unique Resource identifiers for its entries
    • displayLabel is an optional element that can be used to distinguish multiple titles in the front-end display
    • usage (primary) should always be present for one title, but never more than one. This is the title that the front-end will use when there is only room for one piece of metadata
  • Sub-elements of titleInfo are title, subTitle, partNumber, partName, and nonSort
    • title is a required sub-element and will generally contain the entire contents of the spreadsheet column "title"
    • subTitle is an optional element, but its use is not recommended because it can complicate display and migration
    • partNumber is an optional element that can be useful if a multi-part work is uploaded as separate items
    • partName is an optional element if a multi-part work is uploaded as individual items and those items are given distinct titles
    • nonSort is an optional element that can hold non-sorting characters such as "the", "a", "les", "das". If this element is used, it allows for non-sorting characters to be ignored when arranging collections alphabetically.

Examples of Titles Encoded in MODS

Simple title included on object
<mods:titleInfo usage="primary">
        <mods:title>Huey P. Long Signing Papers in Pajamas</mods:title>
Title constructed by cataloger
<mods:titleInfo usage="primary">
        <mods:title>Official letter from the Directors of the Company of the Indies, Paris, 
           to Monsieur [Jean] Morin, Cap-Français, [Saint-Domingue]</mods:title>
<note type="titleSrc" displaylabel="Title Source">Title provided by cataloger.</note>

Title and uniform title

 <mods:titleInfo usage="primary">
        <mods:title>150 Psalms</mods:title>
 <mods:titleInfo type="uniform" authority="naf" valueURI="">
        <mods:title>Bible. Psalms</mods:title>

Title with alternative title

<mods:titleInfo usage="primary">
        <mods:title>Jambalaya Yearbooks 1898</mods:title>
<mods:titleInfo type="alternative">
        <mods:title>Jambalaya (New Orleans, La.)</mods:title>

Original title with non-sorting characters and translated title

<titleInfo usage="primary" lang="spa" displaylabel="Title - Spanish">
        <title>camino infinito</title>
<titleInfo type="translated" lang="eng" displaylabel="Title - English">
        <title>Endless road</title>
<note type="titleSrc" displaylabel="Title Source">Title translated by cataloger.</note>

Complex uniform title with part name and number

<mods:titleInfo type="uniform" authority="naf" valueURI="">
        <mods:partName>Opus 12</mods:partName>
        <mods:partNumber>No. 1</mods:partNumber>
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.