Effective use of the subtitle field

In May 2023, BISG released a reminder of its best practices for use of the title and subtitle fields. Since that time, companies throughout the supply chain have expressed their support for the statement. Their statements appear below.

Ingram Content Group

“Ingram Content Group is dedicated to the book industry and appreciates the importance of metadata and the standardized best practices put in place for its collection and management. Ingram supports BISG, publishers, and the book industry with ongoing efforts to adhere to metadata standards.”

Baker & Taylor

“BISG and BookNet Canada’s Best Practices for Product Metadata clearly states that Title and Subtitle values in ONIX submissions should be exactly as they appear on the product’s Title page. Baker & Taylor fully supports this, and the Best Practices as a whole.  The Title and Subtitle are critical fields and should be accurate and precise, not containing extraneous marketing or other language.  The accuracy of Title and Subtitle has a direct impact on end-user discovery, selection, and purchase, and we’ve seen numerous instances where mismatches cause customer confusion, complaints, and even returns.  Proper fielding of a record’s values in an ONIX message enables everyone in the metadata pipeline to understand what a product is, to leverage the content provided, and to best position the product in their applications for their consumers, patrons, etc.  The Best Practices for Product Metadata represents the collective wisdom of the industry, and B&T encourages all members of the supply chain to join with us in trying to fully comply with this important standard. “ (Sam Dempsey, VP, Data Products & Services, Baker & Taylor)

Bowker and Proquest, part of Clarivate

"Bowker and ProQuest, part of Clarivate, support this statement from BISG and emphasizes the importance of using fields correctly and following best practice guidelines to ensure our customers receive the most accurate metadata for each title.”  (Beat Barblan, General Manager, Bowker and Pat Payton; Senior Manager, Provider Relations, ProQuest, part of Clarivate)

BookNet Canada

"BookNet Canada agrees that the BISG statement on Title and Subtitle Misuse addresses a real problem common in current book metadata. It is frustrating to see effective and simple dedicated-for-its-purpose metadata options for online marketing go unasked for by retailers and not implemented by publishers who then resort to stick-the-promo-copy in the book title.  It reduces the effectiveness and usability of book metadata for everyone."

Firebrand Group

"Firebrand Group—a global collection of technology companies including Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley, and Supadu Ltd—fully supports BISG and this latest set of best practice guidelines. Misusing clearly defined metadata fields muddies the waters for everyone in the publishing industry and creates inefficiencies. By following BISG guidelines, for this and other key fields, more books will more easily reach more readers."


"OCLC appreciates BISG’s leadership on metadata best practices for the North American market and supports this statement regarding the misuse of the subtitle field. We also support BIC’s previous statement about this misuse in the UK. Placing promotional texts in the subtitle field hinders the work of libraries to provide increased discovery of books. The ONIX standard contains clear fields indicating a book’s title and subtitle as they appear on the title page of the book, while also providing fields to indicate promotional and marketing copy, including cover lines and promotional headlines."

"When high quality and accurate metadata enters the data supply chain directly from publishers, librarians can spend their time enhancing the records to make content more discoverable to users instead of having to change metadata to accurately represent the book. OCLC encourages all metadata senders and receivers to use these fields according to best practice so that something as seemingly small as a misused subtitle field doesn’t keep a book from finding its reader."

Library of Congress

"The Library of Congress fully supports the BISG statement on Title and Subtitle Misuse. The Library relies heavily on accurate ONIX metadata for use in its Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Program and for post-publication metadata enrichment projects. The continuous supply of high-quality, publisher-supplied metadata is critical to the discoverability of books in the marketplace and in libraries. All stakeholders can leverage efficiencies when everyone does their part to ensure that ONIX metadata, especially something as critical as the title field, accurately reflects industry best practice."