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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cataloging Services

Acquisitions & Cataloging Services

Book Size Rules


The size of books has been used in collation for material cataloged since January 1948. In giving the size, follow AACR2, rule 2.5D. Remember to round up to the next whole centimeter (e.g., if the spine measure 28.2 cm., record it as 29 cm.) Measure the height of the binding if the volume is bound. Otherwise, measure the height of the item itself. 

*Call number prefixes relating to size are placed at the beginning of the classification number, but following other prefixes, so the collection can be shelved together. However, exceptions can be made for special collections based on each library’s need for shelving and access. Please contact the CAPT Cataloging and Metadata Working Group for additional information.

Size Markings

  1. The following size categories apply to "tall" or "square" books:
    • Use Q. when size in collation ranges between 29 and 42 cm. (i.e., between 28.1 and 42)
    • Use F. when size in collation is more than 42 cm.
      Tall book
  2. For oblong books (those where the width is greater than the height), the following size categories are to be used (cf. rule 2.5D2):
    • Use Q. when width in collation ranges between 25 and 35 cm (inclusive)
    • Use F. when width in collation is more than 35 cm.
      Oblong book
  3. For multi-volume works (serials, sets, etc.), follow these guidelines:
    • Determine oversize symbol for the work and all of its volumes from the size of the largest piece.
      • E.g., if a serial has 27 volumes, of which 19 are 27 cm. high, 7 are 30 cm. high, and 1 is 44 cm. high, use the size mark F. in the catalogue record and on all the volumes.
    • If a two-volume work consists of a text volume accompanied by an atlas volume or other accompanying printed volume of a different size, assign the oversize symbol appropriate to the larger of the two, whether that is the text volume or the accompanying material.
    • A pamphlet accompanying an oversize volume should be placed in a pocket on the inside of the back cover of the volume whenever practicable. Write on the pamphlet the same call number as the one used for the volume it accompanies.

Cataloging Department, September 1, 1939
Revised August 1948, November 1973, June 1983, May 2