Tricky DVD Titles

Unlike the bulk of our print material, our movie and television collections are entered under title. This can make the spine label and call number lettering tricky, particularly when dealing with foreign films or titles that start with brief 1-4 letter English words. Some general guidelines are below. Follow them for all recataloged and newly processed items (we’ll leave material already in circulation with the “wrong” patterns to cycle out of the collection).

BASIC PATTERN: For the cases here we don’t simply write out the first word in full, as we do with more straightforward titles. Skip over initial start words and use the first substantial word for the spine and call number (its first 3 letters for the spine, the full word for the item record). For abbreviations and other tricky cases, generally use a specific, smushed-together 3-letter format for both the spine and the item record (do not write out multiple words in the item record).

Common Stop WordsOther Short WordsPersonal TitlesOther AbbreviationsForeign Language Titles

Common Stop Words: A, An, The

Words that are short in length, very frequently used, and which add little meaning to a phrase are often skipped when processed by a computer application. In a MARC record, the 245 field’s second indicator slot shows if there is an introductory title word “jumped over” when the item is recorded in the catalog’s title index (in 245 0 2, for example, “2” means ignore the first two characters). Stop word lists vary by application, and AACR2/RDA guidelines don’t always match those used elsewhere (see Google’s longer list here).

For our purposes, we ignore just a few introductory words: a, an, the. If a title starts with one of these, skip over it and use the next word for the spine label and the call number. Enter the first three letters of that initial meaningful word on the spine label, but spell it out in full in the item record call number field. EXAMPLES:

Pronouns, Prepositions, and Other “Meaningful” Short Words: I, My, On, To, Be, About, How, etc.

DO include these on the spine and in the call number. Pad any title starting with a one or two letter word with letter(s) from the next word in the title so that both the spine label and the item record call number field have three characters. When entering the call number in the item record, do not “correct” the entry for OPAC display by spelling out in full the two starting words or by adding spacing. For example, record the films I feel pretty as DVD FF IFe, On Golden Pond as DVD FF OnG, To Kill a Mockingbird as DVD FF ToK. Though we’ve been inconsistent in the past, going forward DO CAPITALIZE the first letter in the second word that has been “smushed” into the initial one or two letter word. EXAMPLES:


Abbreviations: Personal and Professional Titles

To simplify the processing of items starting with Mr/Mister, Mrs/Mistress, Dr/Doctor, etc., use the abbreviated form of the word. Do so regardless of how the TV show or film title is represented on the cover art or in the record’s 245 field. The goal is to group all the Mr, Dr, and related titles together, whether they were released in the abbreviated form or not (patrons may not know which form was used by the production company). Some practices to note:

  • Titles starting with Mrs. will have spine labels that are four letters long, either DVD TV MrsX or DVD FF MrsX, where “X” represents the first letter in the second word of the title
  • Do NOT use a period after Mr or Mrs
  • Do NOT leave a space between Mr/Mrs and the first letter of the second word in the title
  • DO capitalize the first letter after Mr or Mrs

Break from the above guidelines only if there’s a practical reason for doing so. A couple of cases where we have transcribed the first three letters exactly as they appear:

  • Abbreviating the “Miss fisher’s” series to MsF, for example, doesn’t really work; Ms. can be used for both married and unmarried women.
  • Abbreviating the “Doc Martin” series to DrM is also problematic. Here, the first word in the title, though clearly standing in for “Doctor,” is such a recognizable shorthand for the word that patrons are likely to look for it directly. (Note that the bib record does not include a 246 field with “Doctor” spelled out in full; other “Dr.” titles generally do.)

In cases like these, go ahead and use DVD TV Mis and DVD TV Doc on the spines and in the item records. Again, to make sure the two presentation match exactly, do not write out “Miss” or “Doc Martin”/”Doctor Martin” in full in the OPAC. Make the two displays match. EXAMPLES:


Other Abbreviations

Some films start with abbreviations or unique spellings that really don’t make for straightforward spine labeling. We’ll keep a running list of these and revisit it from time to time to see if we can iron out a clear policy.

  • S.S. Swenson entered as DVD FF SSS (“SS” stands for screw steamer, sailing ship, or steamship? We went with the abbrev.)
  • D.O.A. entered as DVD FF Dead (DOA is a well-known acronym. We used the first word.)
  • aTypical wednesday entered as DVD FF Atypical (the initial “a” is lower case in the 245 field and on the jacket, but to be consistent with the other DVDs and since it won’t affect shelf-order we used a capital letter for the record and the spine)
  • I, Tonya entered as DVD FF ITo (example included as a reminder to “smush” together 1-2 letter initial words with a letter or two from the next word, even if they’re separated by punctuation)
  • S&M2 entered as DVD Sym 782.4216 (had to Google it to find out that S&M stands for “Symphony and Metallica”…maybe relabel as “S&M”?)
  • Power up by AC/DC entered as MusicCD AC Rock (here, we treated the first two letters of the band’s name like a standalone word, and left it alone as we would the last names “Ha” or “Lu”)

Foreign Language Titles

Generally, when processing a foreign language film or TV show starting with a common stop word, follow the same guidance from the first section above — if it starts with an article of speech, skip over it and use the first significant foreign language word for the item’s spine label and call number.

A table of common foreign language articles, examples from Sierra, and a circumstance when you’d probably want to break from this pattern (and use an English language entry instead) are below.

A Un, Une, Des Un, Una, Unos, Unas Un, Uno, Una, Un’ Ein, Eine
An Un, Une, Des Un, Una, Unos, Unas Un, Uno, Una, Un’ Ein, Eine
The Le, La, L’, Les El, La, Los, Las Il, L’, La, I, Gli, Le Der, Die, Das



NOTE: For some non-English productions, don’t bother identifying introductory articles. When to ignore the foreign language title all together and use an English word as the access point:

  • The foreign film or TV show is well-known in the US by its English title
  • The cover art on the item-in-hand prominently displays the English translation of the title

In these cases, go ahead and process the discs under their English titles. EXAMPLES: