Types of Subject Headings

The following section will take a look at the various types of words and phrases that are listed as subject headings in LCSH. Examples are listed under the explanation of each type. These examples are shown in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. For those who have used card catalogs, this will be a familiar style of looking at subject headings. Many card catalogs used all capital letters to indicate subject headings, to differentiate between the same terms used in titles or as authors. In computer catalogs, the style of type for subject headings depends on the specifications of the program. Some programs show them in capitals, some show them in a different color of type, and some programs just list them together under a heading indicating subjects.

The purpose of subject headings is to give the cataloger a way to describe the content of materials in the library. Many times this can be done with a single word, such as ARCHITECTURE. Sometimes, though, the concepts that are covered require subject headings that can provide further definition, or a more specific definition of the content. Therefore, subject headings can also be phrases such as CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERISTICS IN LITERATURE. Subject headings can also have subdivisions that help clarify the meaning or focus of the subject term, such as ARCHIVAL MATERIALS—CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION. This section will look at the various types and styles of subject headings.

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