Network Working Group
Request For Comments: 1357
D. Cohen
July 1992

A Format for E-mailing Bibliographic Records

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This memo defines a format for E-mailing bibliographic records of technical reports. It is intended to accelerate the dissemination of information about new Computer Science Technical Reports (CS-TR).



Many Computer Science R&D organizations routinely announce new technical reports by mailing (via the postal services) the bibliographic records of these reports.

These mailings have non-trivial cost and delay. In addition, their recipients cannot conveniently file them, electronically, for later retrieval and searches.

Therefore, it is suggested that the publishing organizations would e-mail these announcements by using the following format.

Organizations may automate to any degree (or not at all) both the creation of these records (about their own publications) and the handling of the records received from other organizations.

This format is designed to be simple, for people and for machines, to be easy to read ("human readable") and create without any special programs, and to be compatible with E-mail.

This format defines how bibliographic records are to be transmitted. It does not define what to do with them when received.

This format is a "tagged" format with self-explaining alphabetic tags. It should be possible to prepare and to read bibliographic records using any text editor, without any special programs.

This format was developed with considerable help and involvement of Computer Science and Library personnel from several organizations, including CMU, CNRI, Cornell, ISI, Meridian, MIT, Stanford, and UC. Key contributions were provided by Jerry Saltzer of MIT, and Larry Lannom of Meridian. The initial draft was prepared by Danny Cohen and Larry Miller of ISI.

The use of this format is encouraged. There are no limitations on its use.



The various fields should follow the format described below.

<M> means Mandatory; a record without it is invalid. <O> means Optional.

The tags (aka Field-IDs) are shown in upper case.

           <M>  BIB-VERSION of this bibliographic records format
           <M>  ID
           <M>  ENTRY date
           <O>  ORGANIZATION
           <O>  TITLE
           <O>  TYPE
           <O>  REVISION
           <O>  AUTHOR
           <O>  CORP-AUTHOR
           <O>  CONTACT for the author(s)
           <O>  DATE of publication
           <O>  PAGES count
           <O>  COPYRIGHT, permissions and disclaimers
           <O>  RETRIEVAL information
           <O>  CR-CATEGORY
           <O>  PERIOD
           <O>  SERIES
           <O>  FUNDING organization(s)
           <O>  MONITORING organization(s)
           <O>  CONTRACT number(s)
           <O>  GRANT number(s)
           <O>  LANGUAGE name
           <O>  NOTES
           <O>  ABSTRACT
           <M>  END



  • Keep It Simple.
  • One bibliographic record for each publication, where a "publication" is whatever the publishing institution defines as such.
  • A record contains several fields.
  • Each field starts with its tag (aka the field-ID) which is a reserved identifier (containing no separators) at the beginning of a new line with or without spaces before it), followed by two colons ("::"), followed by the field data.
   * Continuation lines:  Lines are limited to 79 characters.  When
     needed, fields may continue over several lines, with an implied
     space in between.  In order to simplify the use no special marking
     is used to indicate continuation line.  Hence, fields are
     terminated by a line that starts (apart from white space) with
     a word followed by two colons.  Except for the "END::" that is
     terminated by the end of line.)  For improved human readability
     it is suggested to start continuation lines with some spaces.
  • Several fields are mandatory and must appear in the record. All fields (unless specifically not permitted to) may be in any order and may be repeated as needed (e.g., the AUTHOR field). The order of the repeated fields is always preserved.
  • Only printable ASCII characters may be used. Hence, the permissible characters are ASCII codes 040 (Space) through 176(~) and line breaks which are \012 (LF) or \012\015 (CRLF). Empty lines indicate paragraph break. \009 (tab) must be replaced by spaces before submission. This specifically forbids tabs, null characters, DEL, backspaces, etc. (i.e., if used, the record is invalid.)

Throughout this document the word "publisher" means the publishing organization of a report (e.g., a university or a department thereof), not necessarily an organization authorized to issue ISBN numbers.

          ID:: OUKS//CS-TR-91-123
       ENTRY:: January 15, 1992
ORGANIZATION:: Oceanview University, Kansas, Computer Science
       TITLE:: The Computerization of Oceanview with High
                   Speed Fiber Optics Communication
        TYPE:: Technical Report
    REVISION:: 2, FTP retrieval information added
      AUTHOR:: Finnegan, James A.
     CONTACT:: Prof. J. A. Finnegan, CS Dept, Oceanview Univ, Oceanview,
                   KS 54321  Tel: 913-456-7890  <>
      AUTHOR:: Pooh, Winnie The
     CONTACT:: 100 Aker Wood
        DATE:: December 1991
       PAGES:: 48
   COPYRIGHT:: Copyright for the report (c) 1991, by J. A. Finnegan.
                   All rights reserved.  Permission is granted for any
                   academic use of the report.
   RETRIEVAL:: For full text with color pictures send a self-addressed
                   stamped envelope to Prof. J. A. Finnegan, CS Dept,
                   Oceanview University, Oceanview, KS 54321.
   RETRIEVAL:: ASCII available via FTP from JUPITER.CS.OUKS.EDU with the
                   pathname PUBS/computerization.txt.  Login with FTP,
                   username ANONYMOUS and password GUEST.
                   File size: 123,456 characters
 CR-CATEGORY:: C.2.2 Computer Sys Org, Communication nets, Net Protocols
      SERIES:: Communication
    CONTRACT:: FAS-91-C-1234
    LANGUAGE:: English
       NOTES:: This report is the full version of the paper with the
               same title in IEEE Trans ASSP Dec 1976


Many alchemists in the country work on important fusion problems. All of them cooperate and interact with each other through the scientific literature. This scientific communication methodology has many advantages. Timeliness is not one of them.

END:: OUKS//CS-TR-91-123

---------------------------- End of Example ---------------------------

For reference, the above example has about 1,750 characters (220 words) including about 250 characters (40 words) in the abstract.



In the following double-quotes indicate complete strings. They are included only for grouping and are not expected to be used in the actual records.

The term "Open Ended Format" in the following means arbitrary text.

The BIB-VERSION, ID, ENTRY, and END field must appear as the first, second, third, and last fields, and may not be repeated in the record. All other fields may be repeated as needed.

BIB-VERSION (M) -- This is the first field of any record. It is a

mandatory field. It identifies the version of the format used to create this bibliographic record.

BIB-VERSIONs that start with the letter X (case independent) are considered experimental. Bib-records sent with such a BIB-VERSION should NOT be incorporated in the permanent database of the recipient.

Using this version of this format, this field is always:

        Format:   BIB-VERSION:: CS-TR-v2.0

ID (M) -- This is the second field of any record. It is also a

mandatory field. Its format is "ID:: XXX//YYY", where XXX is the publisher-ID (the controlled symbol of the publisher) and YYY is the ID (e.g., report number) of the publication as assigned by the publisher. This ID is typically printed on the cover, and may contain slashes.

The organization symbols "DUMMY" and "TEST" (case independent) and any organization symbol starting with <X> (case independent) are reserved for test records that should NOT be incorporated in the permanent database of the recipients.

        Format:   ID:: <publisher-ID>//<free-text>
        Example:  ID:: OUKS//CS-TR-91-123

**** See the note at the end regarding the ****

**** controlled symbols of the publishers *****

ENTRY (M) -- This is a mandatory field. It is the date of creating this

bibliographic record.

        The format for ENTRY date is "Month Day, Year".  The month must
        be alphabetic (spelled out).    The "Day" is a 1- or 2-digit
        number.  The "Year" is a 4-digit number.
        Format:   ENTRY:: <date>
        Example:  ENTRY:: January 15, 1992

ORGANIZATION (O) -- It is the full name spelled out (no acronyms,

please) of the publishing organization. The use of this name

is controlled together with the controlled symbol of the

publisher (as discussed above for the ID field).

Avoid acronyms because there are many common acronyms, such as ISI and USC. Please provide it in ascending order, such as "X University, Y Department" (not "Y Department, X University").

        Format:   ORGANIZATION:: <free-text>
        Example:  ORGANIZATION:: Stanford University, Computer Science

TITLE (O) -- This is the title of the work as assigned by the author.

This field should include the complete title with all the subtitles, if any.

If the publication has no title (e.g., in withdrawal), a blank TITLE field should be included.

        Format:   TITLE:: <free-text>
        Example:  TITLE:: The Computerization of Oceanview with High
                              Speed Fiber Optics Communication

TYPE (O) -- Indicates the type of publication (summary, final project

report, etc.) as assigned by the issuing organization.

        Format:   TYPE:: <free-text>
        Example:  TYPE:: Technical Report

REVISION (O) -- Indicates that the current bibliographic record is

a revision of a previously issued record and is intended to replace it. Revision information consists of an integer followed by a comma, and by text in an open ended format. The revised bibliographic record should contain a complete record for the publication, not just a list of changes to the old record. The default assumption is that a record is not a revision (i.e., specify only if it is), with that integer being zero.

The first token in this field is an integer revision number. Higher numbers indicate later revisions. Use the text to describe the revision. Reasons to send out a revised record include an error in the original, change in the retrieval information, or withdrawal (see below).

        Format:  REVISION:: N, <free-text>

Example: REVISION:: 2, FTP retrieval information added

    WITHDRAWING:  A withdrawal of a record is a special case of revising
        it.  Hence, the standard way to withdraw records is by sending a
        revision record with (at least) all the mandatory fields, and an
        optional explanation in the NOTES field.

It is OK on withdrawal to eliminate the title, by not providing the TITLE field it or by providing it with no text (blank).

Example for withdrawing a bibliographic record::

            BIB-VERSION::  CS-TR-v2.0
            ID::           OUKS//CS-TR-91-123
            ENTRY::        January 25, 1992
            ORGANIZATION:: Oceanview University, Kansas, Computer Science
            REVISION::     4, withdrawn
            NOTES::        Withdrawn, found to be irrelevant
            END::          OUKS//CS-TR-91-123

This new record will replace all the fields of the previous record for that publication. In this example it will eliminate the title, the retrieval information provided earlier, and not mention the authors.

AUTHOR (O) -- Personal names only. Normal last name first inversion.

Editors should be listed here as well, identified with the usual "(ed.)" as shown below in the last example.

If the report was not authored by a person (e.g., it was authored by a committee or a panel) use CORP-AUTHOR (see below) instead of AUTHOR.

Multiple authors are entered by using multiple lines, each in the form of "AUTHOR:: <free-text>".

The system preserves the order of the authors.

        Format:   AUTHOR:: <free-text>
        Example:  AUTHOR:: Finnegan, James A.
                  AUTHOR:: Pooh, Winnie The
                  AUTHOR:: Lastname, Firstname (ed.)

CORP-AUTHOR (O) -- The corporate author (e.g., a committee or a
        panel) that authored the report, which may be different from
        the ORGANIZATION issuing the report.

In entering the corporate name please omit initial "the" or "a". If it is really part of the name, please invert it.

        Format:   CORP-AUTHOR:: <free-text>

Example: CORP-AUTHOR:: Committee on long-range computing

CONTACT (O) -- The contact for the author(s).

Open-ended, most likely E-mail and postal addresses.

You may provide a CONTACT field for each author separately, or for all the AUTHOR fields.

E-mail addresses should always be in "pointy brackets" (as in the example below).

        Format:   CONTACT:: <free-text>
        Example:  CONTACT:: Prof. J. A. Finnegan, CS Dept, Oceanview
                            Univ., Oceanview, Kansas, 54321
                            Tel: 913-456-7890 <>

DATE (O) -- The publication date. The formats are "Month Year" and

"Month Day, Year". The month must be alphabetic (spelled out). The "Day" is a 1- or 2-digit number. The "Year" is a 4-digit number.

        Format:   DATE:: <date>
        Example:  DATE:: January 1992
        Example:  DATE:: January 15, 1992

PAGES (O) -- Total number of pages, without being too picky about it.

Final numbered page is actually preferred, if it is a reasonable approximation to the total number of pages.

        Format:   PAGES:: <number>
        Example:  PAGES:: 48

COPYRIGHT (O) -- Copyright, permissions and disclaimers.  Open
        ended format.  The COPYRIGHT field applies to the cited
        report, rather than to the current bibliographic record.
        On advice of counsel it is suggested that you seek the
        advice of yours.

        Format:  COPYRIGHT:: <free-text>

Example: COPYRIGHT::

Copyright for the report (c) 1991,
by J. A. Finnegan. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for any academic use of the report.

RETRIEVAL INFORMATION (O) -- Open-ended format describing how to get

a copy of the full text. It may include anything from FTP

instructions to a variety of files (e.g., ASCII, TeX, and

PostScript) to "Send $4.50 to ..." or "Send E-mail to <X@Y>".

It is suggested to repeat this field for each retrieval option (e.g., one line for the FTP instructions to the ASCII version, and another for the PostScript version). When offering files like TeX all the related files (e.g., "\input mystyle") should be included. Please provide file sizes (in characters).

Means are not defined yet for providing the information needed for automatic retrieval of files (such as via FTP). They are expected to be defined in the near future.

No limitations are placed on the dissemination of the bibliographic records. If there are limitations on the dissemination of the publication, it should be protected by some means such as passwords. This format does not address this protection.

        Format:  RETRIEVAL:: <free-text>


                 RETRIEVAL:: For full text with color pictures send
                             a self-addressed stamped envelope to
                             Prof. J. A. Finnegan, CS Dept,
                             Oceanview University, Oceanview, KS 54321.
                 RETRIEVAL:: ASCII available via FTP from
                             JUPITER.CS.OUKS.EDU with the pathname
                             Login with FTP, username ANONYMOUS and
                             password GUEST.
                             File size: 123,456 characters

CR-CATEGORY (O) -- Specify the CR-category.  The CR-category (the
        Computer Reviews Category) index (e.g., "B.3") should always be
        included, optionally followed by the name of that category.  If
        the name is specified it should be fully specified with parent
        levels as needed to clarify it, as in the second example below.
        Use multiple lines for multiple categories.

The January 1992 issue of CR has the full list of these categories, with a detailed discussion of the CR Classification System, and a full index. Typically the full index appears in every January issue, and the top two levels in every issue.

        Format:   CR-CATEGORY:: <free-text>
        Example:  CR-CATEGORY:: D.1

Example: CR-CATEGORY:: B.3 Hardware, Memory Structures

PERIOD (O) -- Time period covered (date range).  Applicable primarily to
        progress reports, etc.  Any format is acceptable, as long as the
        two dates are separated with " to " (the word "to" surrounded by
        spaces) and each date is in the format allowed for dates, as
        described above for the date field.

        Format:   PERIOD:: <date> to <date>

        Example:  PERIOD:: January 1990 to March 1990

SERIES (O) -- Series title, including volume number within series.

Open-ended format, with producing institution strongly encouraged to be internally consistent.

        Format:   SERIES:: <free-text>
        Example:  SERIES:: Communication

FUNDING (O) -- The name(s) of the funding organization(s).

        Format:   FUNDING:: <free-text>
        Example:  FUNDING:: DARPA

MONITORING (O) -- The name(s) of the monitoring organization(s).

        Format:   MONITORING:: <free-text>
        Example:  MONITORING:: ONR

CONTRACT (O) -- The contract number(s).

        Format:   CONTRACT:: <free-text>
        Example:  CONTRACT:: MMA-90-23-456

GRANT (O) -- The grant number(s).

        Format:   CONTRACT:: <free-text>
        Example:  GRANT:: NASA-91-2345

LANGUAGE (O) -- The language in which the report is written.

Please use the full English name of that language.

Please include the Abstract in English, if possible.

If the language is not specified, English is assumed.

        Format:   LANGUAGE:: <free-text>
        Example:  LANGUAGE:: English

NOTES (O) -- Miscellaneous free text.

        Format:   NOTES:: <free-text>
        Example:  NOTES:: This report is the full version of the paper
                          with the same title in IEEE Trans ASSP Dec

ABSTRACT (O) -- Highly recommended, but not mandatory.  Even though no
        limit is defined for its length, it is suggested not to expect
        applications to be able to handle more than 10,000 characters.

The ABSTRACT is expected to be used for subject searching since titles are not enough. Even if the report is not in English, an English ABSTRACT is preferable. If no formal abstract appears on document, the producers of the bibliographic records are encouraged to use pieces of the introduction, first paragraph, etc.

        Format:  ABSTRACT:: xxxx .............. xxxxxxxx
                            xxxx .............. xxxxxxxx
                            xxxx .............. xxxxxxxx
                            xxxx .............. xxxxxxxx

END (M) -- This is a mandatory field. It must be the last entry of a

record, identifying the record that it ends, by stating the same ID that was used at the beginning of the records, in its "ID::".

        Format:   END:: XXX
        Example:  END:: OUKS//CS-TR-91-123

>>>>>>> [END OF FORMAT DEFINITION] <<<<<<<

A Note Regarding the Controlled Symbols of the Publishers

In order to avoid conflicts among the symbols of the publishing organizations (the XXX part of the "ID:: XXX//YYY") it is suggested that the various organizations that publish reports (such as universities, departments, and laboratories) register their <publisher-ID> symbols and names, in a way similar to the registration of other key parameters and names in the Internet.

Danny Cohen <Cohen@ISI.EDU> of ISI, has agreed to coordinate this registration for the publishers of Computer Science technical reports. It is suggested that before using this format the publishing organizations would coordinate with him (by e-mail) their symbols and the names of their organizations. [Discussions are in progress to have these publisher-IDs registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and listed in future editions of the Assigned Numbers document.]

In order to help automated handling of the received bibliographic records, it is expected that the producers of bibliographic records will always use the same name, exactly, in the ORGANIZATION field.

Security Considerations

Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Author's Address

   Danny Cohen
   USC - Information Sciences Institute
   4676 Admiralty Way
   Marina del Rey, California  90292-6695


   Fax:   310-823-6714