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Map Format Field Guide

This page outlines the essential fields for the MARC format for maps. Each field is listed with brief description and examples of use. Links are made to additional materials that help to visualize each field and the origin of the data that it represents. Refer to the Sample Map Record to see how the completed work appears.

The materials below are not comprehensive, but merely to be used in assisting the basics of map cataloging.

What Qualifies As a Map Format Item?

According to AACRII: Cartographic Materials 3.0. General Rules

Scope: Cartographic materials include all materials that represent the whole or part of the earth or any celestial body. These include two- and three-dimensional maps and plans (including maps of imaginary places); aeronautical, nautical, and celestial charts; atlases; globes; block diagrams; sections; aerial photographs with a cartographic purpose; bird's-eye views (map views); etc. They do not cover in detail the description of early or manuscript cartographic materials, though the use of an additional term in the physical description (see 3.5B) and/or the use of the specific instructions in chapter 4 will furnish a sufficiently detailed description for the general library catalogue. For items falling within the scope of other chapters but presenting cartographic information (e.g., some wall charts, some playing cards), consult the rules in this chapter in conjunction with those of the chapter appropriate to the item.

In examples below the delimiter may also be shown as or =
For a correct delimiter character in OCLC input, use Control-d.
Fixed Fields
Variable Fields
Map Projection
007 - Format
Relief Codes

010 Library of Congress Control Number
(description of LCCN: Structure of the LC Control Number)

Index Code
020 - ISBN (add as usual)
Dates 034 - Mathematical Data
052 - Geographic Location Codes

USMARC Geographic Area Codes

Call numbers / Cutter Number Table
USMARC Language Codes
1XX / 7XX Name Headings
245/ 246 Title, Alternate Titles, Statement of Responsibility
Additional Notes 250 Edition Statement
Map Scale 255 Mathematical Details (scale, projection, coordinates, other coordinate data)
Punctuation and cataloging conventions used on map records 260 Place, Publisher, Date
Sample Map Record MARC-tagged OCLC record 300 Physical Description
Samples of Maps to explain various map features for cataloging (mainly related to relief). 440, 490 Series Title (and 8XX complements)
References 5XX - Note Fields
  6XX - Subject Headings

Fixed Fields

OCLC Field help

Fields that are somewhat constant for maps.

Type: e Cartographic material (MAP)

BLvl: Bibliographic Level (All formats)

a Component part, monographic
b Component part, serial
c Collection
m Monograph
s Serial (MAP)

CrTp: Type of Cartographic Material (Map and Field 006)
Contains an alphabetic code that indicates the type of record.

a Single map
b Map series
c Map serial (Also use "Bib lvl" code "s" for a map serial)
d Globe
e Atlas
f Seperate supplement to another work
g Bound as part of another work
u Unknown
z Other

Form: Form of Item as for other formats.

SpFm: Special Format Characteristics (MAP and Field 006)

No specified special format characteristics (most common)
Picture card, post card
Braille, tactile. Obsolete. Do not use. Use Form (Map and Field 006) code f.
Wall map
Playing cards
Large print. Obsolete. Do not use. Use Form (Map and Field 006) code d.

Map Projection (MAP and Field 006) PROJ: Projection is taken from map (or determined from cataloger's experience). Two characters. Map projection is printed on the map, usually in the Legend. If it is not, the cataloger may attempt to determine the category of the projection based on examination of the map (then use the last code for each main category below). If no projection can be given, use "u" for unknown. If the projection type can be determined (i.e., conic), this can be added using the MARC indicators. Related field: 255. Map Projection examples. See also projections.

Map Projection (data used also for 255)


no projection is specified (also unknown)








Lambert's azimuthal equal area




Azimuthal equidistant




Azimuthal, specific type unknown






Goode's homolographic


Lambert's cylindrical equal area










Transverse Mercator




Cylindrical, specific type unknown




Alber's equal area




Lambert's conformal conic




Conic, specific type unknown










Goode's homolosine


Miller's bipolar oblique conformal conic


Van Der Grinten






Other (any projection not on this list)

Relief Codes (MAP and Field 006) RELF: Relief contains alphabetic codes describing relief types. Since maps often display several types of relief, one to four codes may be recorded. Enter codes in order of their importance to the map. Related fields: 255 500 Note on Relief.



No relief shown on map
Contours (contour lines): a contour is a line joining points of equal vertical distance above or below a datum; when the only contour lines on a map are those which separate different gradient tints, contours are not mentioned as a separate method of depicting relief. Example showing contours
Shading: a relief method used to give an impression of relief by shadow. Often called a "shaded-relief" map. Example showing shaded-relief
Gradient tints (hypsometric or altitude tints): a color applied to the area between two selected contours when relief is depicted by a system of layers
Hachures: short lines, following the direction of maximum slope to indicate relief
Bathymetry, soundings: these are the underwater equivalent of spot heights (code "g") Example showing soundings

Form lines: lines, similar to contours, which depict the configuration of the ground, without numerical indication of altitude. Example showing form lines


Spot heights: a point on a map which represents the position of an indicated altitude. Example showing spot heights

Color: applies only if the color is used to show height, such as hypsometric tints.
Pictorially: pictorial relief is not truly physiographic and usually consists of generalized drawings of hills, etc.

Landforms (rock drawings): the stylized representation of steep rock faces which cannot be portrayed by other methods


Bathymetry, isolines: these are the underwater equivalent of contour lines (code "a") Example showing isolines


Index Code (INDX): Designates whether an index map or chart is provided. Index maps provide the location of the map in relation to the surrounding maps in a series. Related field: 500 (Notes).

0 No index
1 Index present

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Variable Fields

OCLC Field help

007 - Physical Description Field (listed as a Fixed Field but appears in the record with variables). This field describes the format of the map or a globe (i.e., physical format, color, etc.). Below are the codes and the most common examples.

Note: a second 007 field is required if the map is a microform edition. These fields are similar to the standard microform field for other formats. See the manual for codes.


Subfield a General material designation (GMD)

a map
d globe

Subfield bSpecific material designation (SMD)maps
g diagram
j map
d atlas
q model
k profile
r remote-sensing image
s section
y view
z other type


a celestial globe
b planetary or lunar globe
c terrestrial globe
z other type

Subfield dColora one color
b multicolor
Subfield ePhysical Medium

a paper
b wood
c stone
d metal
e synthetics (plastic, film, etc.)
f skins (parchment, vellum)
g textiles (silk, linen, nylon)
p plaster
u unknown
z other

Subfield fType of Reproductionf facsimile
n not applicable
u unknown
z other
Subfield gProduction/Reproduction Details (maps)a photocopy, blueline print
b photocopy
d film
u unknown
z other
Subfield hPolarity (maps)a positive
b negative
m mixed polarity
n not applicable (neither photocopy or film)


Colored printed map on paper (most common)
subfield indicator symbola
a subfield indicator symbolb j subfield indicator symbold bsubfield indicator symbole a subfield indicator symbolf n subfield indicator symbolg z subfield indicator symbolh n

Uncolored printed map on paper (common)
subfield indicator symbola
a subfield indicator symbolb j subfield indicator symbold a subfield indicator symbole a subfield indicator symbolf n subfield indicator symbolg z subfield indicator symbolh n
Colored relief model (map) on paper (3-d maps)
subfield indicator symbola
a subfield indicator symbolb q subfield indicator symbold a subfield indicator symbole e subfield indicator symbolf n subfield indicator symbolg z subfield indicator symbolh n

034 - Coded Cartographic Mathematical Data: Scale and coordinates expressed as a series of numbers. Related fields: 255.

1st indicator
subfield a
subfield b

subfield d

subfield e
subfield f
subfield g
0 = Scale indeterminable/no scale given
1 = Single scale
3 = Range of scales
Category of Scale
a = Linear scale
b = Angular scale (celestial charts)
z = other
Scale Ratio
Scale indicated in a whole number

Coordinates for Westernmost Longitude

Coordinates for Easternmost Longitude
Coordinates for Northernmost Latitude

Coordinates for Southernmost Latitude

034 1 a =b 100000 subfield indicator symbold W1030000 subfield indicator symbole W1023000 subfield indicator symbolf N0391500 subfield indicator symbolg N0354000

In the above example, the data represents:
(indicator) 1 = Single horizontal scale.
subfield a = Linear scale
subfield b = Scale: 1:100,000
subfield d = Longitude at left edge of map: West 103000'00"
subfield e = Longitude at right edge of map: West 102030'00"
subfield f  = Latitude at top edge of map: North 39015'00"
subfield g = Latitude at at bottom edge of map: North 35040'00"

The 034 field parallels the 255 field. Both fields are repeatable so that if a map sheet has a second map on the verso, this is recorded using a second 034 field, and a second 255 field (This is also reflected in the physical description in the 300 field).

Subfields d, e, f, g can also be used to represent coordinates other than standard degrees.

Do not add coordinates for maps of celestial bodies (e.g., Mars, Moon). (See 255; 500)

052 - Geographic Classification Data: Geographical locations described by the map, expressed as a series of numbers and letters. Related fields: 6xx. A repeatable field, and subfields can be repeated as well (see examples). For maps, do not use the 043 field (Geographic Area Code). Subfields d (Populated place name) and 2 (source) exist but are not discussed as they are optional or not used by catalogers. (OCLC help page).

subfield a
subfield b
Geographic classification area code (non-repeated within a field; use 2nd 052 if needed)
Geographic classification subarea code

052    4372 b A4    =     Aleutian Islands (Alaska)

The 052 field reflects the 6xx fields when they include geographical names. The field is repeatable so that if a map sheet has a second map on it, or covers several geographical entities (countries, states, rivers, mountains, etc.), these are recorded using additional 052 fields. Optionally, you can also use just the first level code (instead of using three codes: 7640, 7645, and 7650, for Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, use: 7625 for South Asia).

Subfield a is usually the same as the call number (if using LC G schedule) and Subfield b contains alphanumeric cutters for sub-features. In above, A4 is the cutter for the Aleutian Islands. All 052 data comes from the G schedule class and cutters. In the above, 4372 is the number for Alaska.

Subfield b can also be repeated within an 052 (for instances where the main code is the same but separate subareas exist on the map). See samples:

Field Example represents (651 & Call number)
052   3884 b D62 Dranesville (Va.)
3802 b A19 Adirondack Forest Preserve
4372 b A4 Aleutian Islands (Alaska)

Multiple Subareas

3822 b A5 b M55 b Y6

For subareas

Allegheny River Watershed (Pa. and N.Y.)
Monongahela River Watershed (W. Va. and Pa.)
Youghiogheny River Watershed

In this case, the call number used is for the first entry: G3822.A5 1803 b .W5
3804 b N4 New York (N.Y.)
3804 b N4:2C4

Central Park (New York, N.Y.)
(Central Park is a subarea of New York City and complete cutter is included)

3764 b C2 b C2:2H3 Cambridge (Mass.)
Harvard University

052 Repeated

7652 b B72
7653 b O7


Orissa (India)
Brahmani River Region (Orissa, India)

255 Mathematical Details (scale, projection, coordinates, other coordinate data). Related fields: 034. A text description of the scale, projection, coordinates (latitude/longitude, etc.). Field parallels the 034 field and both are required. (See also resources: Mathematical Data, Map Projections, Map Scale, Map Coordinates.)

Scale (255 subfield a)

Scale is taken directly from the map, or it can be calculated using the bar scale (showing distance in relation to the map).

Scale 1:62,500 ; Polyconic proj. (W 74030'00"--W 74015'00"/N 44015'00"--N 44000'00").

If no scale is given and no scale is indicated by other means, then enter:

Scale not given.

It is possible to compare the map to other maps of the same location that have scale indicated, and then to make an inference, but LC does not do this, nor do they recommend it. It may be useful in a local collection so the cataloger must determine this first.

If the scale cannot be determined by any means (either by examination of the map or by comparison to known map scales), then use the following:

Scale indeterminable.

A verbal equivalent to the scale may be included if it is provided on the map:

Scale 1:250,000. 1 in.= 3.95 mi. 1 cm. = 2.5 km. Polyconic proj. (W 74030'00"--W 74015'00"/N 44015'00"--N 44000'00").

If it is not included on the map but can be inferred by the cataloger, then place the terms in brackets:

Scale 1:250,000. [1 in.= 3.95 mi.]. Polyconic proj. (W 74030'00"--W 74015'00"/N 44015'00"--N 44000'00").

Scale may be inferred by the cataloger when a map has measureable data. See an example, showing how scale can be determined. The use of brackets shows that the cataloger calculated the ratio from data on the map.

255 Scale [1:63,360].

If the scale can be approximated from measuring the bar scale and making a ratio, use:

Scale [ca. 1:55,000]

For some maps, such as tourist maps and pictorial maps, the map is not to a particular scale. Use:

Not drawn to scale.

Map Scale is: a ratio representing the relationship between a specified distance on a map and the actual distance on the ground. For example, at the scale of 1:50 000, 1 unit of measurement on the map equals 50,000 units of the same measurement on the ground. Map scale is frequently expressed as a representative fraction and graphically as a bar scale. (See more on Scale).

Common Map Scales
1 inch = 1 cm. = Map Covers
1:24,000 (7.5 minute series) 2,000 feet 240 meters 40-70 sq. mi.
1:25,000 (7.5 x 15 minute series) 2,083 feet 250 meters (approx.) 98-140 sq. mi.
1:50,000 0.8 mile 500 meters (approx.) 196-280 sq. mi.
1:63,360 1 mile 634 meters (approx.) 207-281 sq. mi.
1:100,000 1.6 mile 1 km (approx.) 1,568-2,240 sq. mi.
1:250,000 4 miles 2.5 km (approx.) 4,580-8,669 sq. mi.
1:1,000,000 16 miles 10 km (approx.) 15,680-22,400 sq. mi.

Additional tools: Scale Finder (Nigel James, Bodleian Library, Map Room). Convert linear scales to representative fractions and vice-versa.

Projection (255 subfield b) - (see also OCLC: 255 Cartographic Mathematical Data and Map Projections).

Scale 1:24,000 ; ‡b polyconic proj.

Enter map projection as described on the map (in the legend or other place). If no projection is specified, but it is obviously of a specific category (e.g.., conic), you may use this as your description.

Enter map projection that reflects the code you used in the PROJ. fixed field.

Coordinates (255 subfield c) - (see also OCLC: 255 Cartographic Mathematical Data and Map Coordinates).

This subfield provides coordinates of the map's location in the world (see: also celestial bodies; celestial charts). Field 255 may be repeated if the sheet being described has two maps (i.e., one on each side).

When describing degrees, minutes, and seconds, enter the following keys:

Symbol OCLC Insert character
Degrees degree symbol
Minutes miagkii znak
Seconds tverdyi znak

Subfield c is used to show coordinates in the following order:

westernmost longitude--easternmost longitude/northernmost latitude--southernmost latitude.

ex: ‡c (W 74030'--W 74015'/N 44015'--N 44000').

Record coordinates in the form hdddmmss (hemisphere-degrees-minutes-seconds) or, in other forms, such as decimal degrees. Use zeros to fill in unused data elements.

You can express the coordinates using degrees 0, minutes ', and seconds " (most common), or you may express the coordinates in the following ways (depending on your map):

Decimal degrees: hddd.dddddd (hemisphere-degrees.decimal degrees):

Scale 1:100,000 ‡c (E 079.5333265--E 086.216635/S 012.583377--S 020.419532).
034 1 a ‡b 100000 ‡d E 079.5333265 ‡e E 086.216635 ‡f S 012.583377 ‡g S020.419532

Decimal degrees: + -ddd.dddddd (hemisphere[+/-]-degrees.decimal degrees [+ for N and E, - for S and W with + being optional]):

255 Scale 1:100,000 ‡c (E 079.5333265--E 086.216635/S 012.583377--S 020.419532).
034 1 a ‡b 100000 ‡d +079.5333265 ‡e +086.216635 ‡f S -012.583377‡g -020.419532

Decimal degrees without the optional +:

Scale 1:100,000 ‡c (E 079.5333265--E 086.216635/S 012.583377--S 020.419532).
034 1 a ‡b 100000 ‡d 079.5333265 ‡e 086.216635 ‡f S 012.583377‡g 020.419532

Decimal minutes: hdddmm.mmmm (hemisphere-degrees-minutes.decimal minutes):

Scale 1:100,000 ‡c (E 07932.5332--E 08607.4478/S 01235.5421--S 02028.9704).
034 1 a ‡b 100000 ‡d E07932.5332 ‡e E08607.4478 ‡f S01235.5421‡g S02028.9704

Decimal seconds: hdddmmss.sss (hemisphere-degrees-minutes-seconds.decimal seconds):

Scale 1:100,000 ‡c (E 0793235.575--E 0860727.350 /S 012536.895--S 0202858.125).
034 1 a ‡b 100000 ‡d E0793235.575 ‡e E0860727.350 ‡f S012536.895 ‡g S0202858.125

Coordinates for celestial bodies (e.g., Moon, Saturn) do not use the 255 (or 034), but instead a 500 note:

500 Lunar coordinates: W 74030'--W 74015'/N 44015'--N 44000'. (see sample record and 500 note).

Coordinates for celestial charts (e.g., star charts) are given in the 255 using subfields d and e:

‡d Statement of zone. The statement of zone for celestial charts.
255 Scales differ ‡ d (Zones +90˚ to +81˚ to 63˚, -81˚ to 98˚ ; ‡ e eq. 1950).
‡e Statement of equinox. The statement of equinox or epoch.
255 Scale not given ‡ d (RA 0 hr. to 24 hr./Decl. +90˚ to -90˚ ; ‡ e eq. 1980).


250 Edition Statement

Edition of the map often is given as a note on the margin or below the date of original edition of the map.

260 Place, Publisher, Date. Elements gathered from the map; similar to book data except that data may not all be in one place. Use publisher data from: legend, margin, publisher's statement along neatline, and other locations on map.

300 Physical Description. Description of the map (or maps), giving quantity, color, dimensions (height x width) of map, dimensions (height x width) of sheet, and accompanying materials (pamphlets, etc.). Dimensions can show map size, sheet size, size of largest and smallest sheets in group, or approximate size. See also: Physical Description Area; Measuring examples.

300   ‡a 1 map : ‡bcol. ; ‡c 56 x 77 cm.
300   ‡a 1 map ; ‡c 56 x 77 cm.
300   ‡a 1 map on 3 sheets : ‡b col. ; ‡c 56 x 77 cm.
300   ‡a 1 map : ‡bcol. ; ‡c on sheet 56 x 77 cm. folded to 21 x 11 cm.
300   ‡a 1 map : ‡b
col. ; ‡c 43 x 33 cm., on sheet 100 x 69 cm., folded to 20 x 23 cm.
300   ‡a 1 atlas (126 p.) : ‡b col. ill., col. maps ; ‡c 28 x 43 cm.
300   ‡a 1 atlas (1 v. (various pagings)) : ‡b
ill. (some col.), col. maps ; ‡c 22 x 37 cm.
300   ‡a 1 map : ‡b photocopy ; ‡c 70 x 51 cm., on sheet 87 x 106 cm., folded to 22 x 27 cm.

Some descriptions need to be complex:

300   ‡a 30 maps on 4 sheets : ‡b col. ; ‡c each 30 x 31 cm., sheets 79 x 125 cm. and 77 x 138 cm., folded in envelope 30 x 24 cm.

Or show additional pieces to the title:

300   ‡a 4 maps on 2 sheets : ‡b photocopies ; ‡c each 37 x 47 cm., sheets 92 x 61 cm., folded to 28 x 21 cm. + ‡e 1 text-pamphlet (10 p. ; 28 cm.)

Satellite images are treated the same, except for:

300   ‡a 1 remote-sensing image : ‡b col., photocopy ; ‡c 36 x 46 cm.

440, 490 Series Title (and 8XX complements). These are treated the same as for monograph series titles. Map series titles are often found along the margins of the map and can be discerned by words such as "sheet no.," "hoya," "map n-n," and other designators.


  • Western Europe 1:250,000 ; NM 34-2
  • 7.5 minute series (topographic). Pennsylvania
  • Eastern United States 1:250,000 ; NL 18-12
  • 15 minute series (topographic). New York (State)

Exceptions: With some "series" type designations on USGS and AMS maps, LC does not enter such in the series field, but instead creates a 246 other title entry and a 500 note:

246 30 Series V501
500      Standard map series designation: Series V501.

5XX - Note Fields (in field order) Click here.

6XX - Subject Headings. Subject headings can be given for main geographical features, subject/topic/theme of the map, specific or significant geographical features appearing on the map, and for ancillary maps and materials.

Subdivisions. See the most common Map Subdivisions For use with LC Subject Headings.

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David J. Bertuca, Map Librarian, University at Buffalo.
Created by 26 October 2000

Last Modified: 24 January 2018
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The materials selected above do not necessarily reflect the policies and procedures of the State University of New York at Buffalo.