--American Memory--

National Digital Library Program Writer's Handbook

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Substantive Writing
3. Mechanics of Writing
3.1 Abbreviations and Names
3.2 Illustrations: Captions and Legends
3.3 Notes and Bibliographies
3.4 Numbers and Dates
3.5 Punctuation
3.6 Spelling and Special Terms
4. Editorial Process
5. Editorial Support
6. Collection Framework
6.1 About the Collection*
6.2 Acknowledgments*
6.3 Building the Digital Collection*
6.4 Cataloging the Collection
6.5 Copyright and Other Restrictions*
6.6 Related Resources
6.7 Scope and Content Note*
6.8 Selected Bibliography
6.9 Special Presentations**
6.10 Other Components
7. Learning Page
8. Today in History
9. Glossary
* This framework element is mandatory.
** This framework element is strongly recommended.

In a hurry? Save or print the National Digital Library Program Writer's Handbook as a single file.

    October 2000 

1. Introduction

Most publishing ventures, whether book publishers, journals, or newspapers, develop a house style guide for their writers and editors to supplement the standard reference works. The NDLP Writer's Handbook provides a guide to the writing and editorial policies and practices of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. It is designed to serve the needs of those involved in creating material (known as the collection framework) to accompany the American Memory collections offered on the World Wide Web. Creators of frameworks include NDLP project leaders and teams; writers, editors, and curators in the various Divisions of the Library of Congress; and outside consultants.

The primary authority for writing and editing in the NDLP is The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993). Other useful reference works are listed in the section on Editorial Support. The purpose of the writer's handbook is to provide guidance for issues that are not covered by the Chicago Manual, that need further clarification, or that deviate from Chicago recommendations. Online publication offers opportunities and bears constraints quite different from print publication and the conventions of online publication are still evolving. This handbook hopes to contribute to shaping those conventions.

"American Memory" is the name used by the Library of Congress for the multiformat historical collections that the Library offers on the Internet. The American Memory collection framework materials must speak to a broad audience of interested Web users ranging from lifelong learners to subject specialists, from elementary-school students or high-school teachers to members of Congress. To reach a global online audience, collection frameworks should convey information in a clear and coherent style using language that is appropriate in tone and substance. Presentations should be informed, accurate, and balanced. The writing should be technically correct and stylistically consistent.

The NDLP Writer's Handbook details various aspects of NDLP writing and editorial work and procedures. To help users find particular sections, a simple navigation bar runs down the left side of every screen. Links to each document on the handbook home page and to the handbook search page appear on each page. Entering any section or a part of any section of the handbook will cause the title of that section to appear bolded in the left navigation bar.

The contents of the handbook are as follows:

2. Substantive Writing offers guidelines for writing with attention to appropriate tone, accurate information, and clear language.
3. Mechanics of Writing covers points of language convention and usage that are particularly important to NDLP.
4. Editorial Process explains how informational content prepared for NDLP Web pages is treated by the editorial team during the production cycle.
5. Editorial Support offers information about online and print resources for writers and editors.
6. Collection Framework consists of descriptions of the purpose, content, and organization of the documents that commonly make up American Memory collection frameworks, along with examples of each kind of document.
7. The Learning Page outlines the purpose, content, organization, and editorial practices of the NDLP Learning Page and addresses the ways Learning Page staff coordinate their activities with collection teams and the Web design team.
8. Today in History links to a description of the mission and content of Today in History and provides information about its editorial practices.
9. Glossary provides a link to the glossary in Spelling and Special Terms.

This handbook was launched and guided though its formative stages by Jeff Finlay. It is the outcome of hard work, energetic discussion, and commitment on the part of Library of Congress staff from October 1998 through June 1999. In particular, the efforts of the following people are acknowledged:
Martha Anderson
Caroline Arms
Katherine Arrington
Emily Lind Baker
Thomas Bramel
Jeff Bridgers
Beth Davis-Brown
Nancy Eichacker
Robin Fanslow
LeeEllen Friedland
Glenn Gardner
Susan Manus
Ursula Marcum
Laura Graham
Judith Graves
Andrea Greenwood
Abigail Grotke
James Hardin
Jurretta Jordan Heckscher
Guy Lamolinara
Jan Lancaster
Shirley Liang
Karen Lund
Christa Maher
Tracy Meehleib
Dominique Pickett
John Pull
Janice Ruth
Evelyn Sinclair
Barak R. Stussman
Tamara Swora-Gober
Deborah Thomas
Catherine Tousignant
Susan Veccia
Linda White
David Woodward

Corrections, queries, and suggestions should be addressed to Jurretta Heckscher.

September 1999

2. Substantive Writing

Good writing depends on good style and good writing for an online environment should be clear, lively, and easy on the eye. Outlined below are guidelines for writing American Memory collection framework documents so that they will reach the desired audience with the appropriate focus and tone. NDLP house style is outlined in the Mechanics of Writing subsections. See Editorial Process for further information about how documents are edited and revised during the production cycle.

Substantive Writing for the Web

The writing should be:

To be appropriate in tone, NDLP documents should:

To be informed, accurate, and balanced, NDLP documents should:

To be clear, coherent, and easy to understand, NDLP documents should:

For information on mechanical correctness and consistency, see Mechanics of Writing.

Linking in Text

Writers of collection framework documents should keep in mind that the Web design team will be adding hypertext links. Using links can improve the navigation of the framework and make both writing and viewing easier. Dividing long documents into sections with linked subheadings is one way to take advantage of the linking capability. Another possibility is the use of a hierarchical presentation that guides the user first to an overall view and then offers levels of greater detail through links. Links to related documents in a collection framework can make pertinent information available without having to repeat it in each document. Care should be taken, however, that a given paragraph or section is not overlinked. Final decisions on linking will be made in cooperation with the Web design team during the final phase of production.

When linking to a Web page outside of the Library of Congress site, for example, in a bibliography or Related Resources page, select only stable pages with verifiable content. Relatively safe examples include government-agency or educational-institution sites.

September 1999

3. Mechanics of Writing

The Chicago Manual of Style (2.63-64) describes two usages of the word "style." The NDLP Writer's Handbook follows these usages. Writing style, that is, language and content, is covered in Substantive Writing. The mechanics of written communication, those elements that are determined by the publisher's practice, are what is termed "house style." This section provides guidance for NDLP house style with special reference to language conventions and usage not covered in the Chicago Manual or requiring greater clarification. See Editorial Process for information about how documents are edited and revised during the production cycle. Subsections of Mechanics of Writing include:

3.1 Abbreviations and Names ( Chicago 14.1-57)

3.2 Illustrations: Captions and Legends (modeled on NDLP conventions)

3.3 Notes and Bibliographies (Chicago 15.1-425)

3.4 Numbers and Dates (Chicago 8.1-80)

3.5 Punctuation (Chicago 5.1-137)

3.6 Spelling and Special Terms ( Chicago 6.1-92, with table 6.1)


September 1999

3.1 Abbreviations and Names

General Guidelines for Abbreviations

Chicago 14.1-57 contains a comprehensive overview of all uses of abbreviations. Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary are also excellent resources for abbreviations from all fields.

Abbreviations in NDLP Documents

Instances where abbreviations are most likely to appear include:

Acronyms (Chicago 14.15):

For more on acronyms and abbreviations with special NDLP application, see Spelling and Special Terms.

Names and Titles (Chicago 14.4-14):

Personal names with Saint (Chicago 14.16) are usually spelled out in text (e.g., Saint Patrick).

Names of Places and States (Chicago 14.17):

Constitutions and Bylaws ( Chicago 14.56):

September 1999

3.2 Illustrations: Captions and Legends

In order to assist users in finding and properly crediting the source materials illustrating NDLP framework materials, illustrations should include descriptive information. Guidelines are offered below. The Chicago Manual (11.1-49) gives useful definitions for captions and legends for illustrations. Building on these, NDLP recommends the following conventions.

Writing the Caption and Legend

Captions (Chicago 11.24) are titles or headlines, usually placed below illustrations. Captions are never grammatically complete sentences, but if the caption and the legend are run together the caption ends with a period.

Legends (Chicago 11.24) are explanations consisting of one or more sentences, usually placed after captions.


Caption: Fenway Park in 1936

Legend: This photograph shows construction of a 23-foot wire fence on top of the 37-foot "Green Monster," built in 1912. The fence was raised above the wall as batters started to shatter windows on the street below.

NDLP Conventions for Captions and Legends

Title required  
Medium optional  
Creator required  
Date required  
Custodial Division

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (P&P)

Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Frances Loeb Library

Collection Name required*  
P&P Reproduction Number required**  

* Collection name is required only if there is no link to the bibliographic record.

** If P&P Reproduction Number is not available, use Call Number. For other Divisions, consult Division specialists.

Note. Credit lines may be required for some illustrative material. For more information, see Copyright and Other Restrictions.

Examples of Thumbnail Illustrations with Descriptive Information

Example 1: Caption derived from bibliographic record but record unavailable for linking

Mount Vernon in

Mount Vernon in Virginia
George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.
Aquatint by Francis Jukes from Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress. London: Pub'd by F. Jukes, 1800.
Reproduction #: (b&w) LC-USZ62-1237

Example 1 is from the Colonial Period Time Line of the George Washington Papers. Note that additional publication information is listed after the repository/custodial Division and before the reproduction number.

Example 2: Bibliographic records available for linking

Joseph Jenkins Roberts

Joseph Jenkins Roberts, ca.1851

These photographs of the first president and First Lady of Liberia can be found in America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotypes, 1839-1862. To see images of other emigrants, search on American Colonization Society.

Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts, between 1851 and 1860

Example 2 is from the Learning Page Feature Presentation Immigration in American Memory. Note that the captions link to bibliographic records and a legend appears between the illustrations.

Example 3: No bibliographic record available for linking

Example 3 is from the Index to Materials Used in By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s. The legend as it appears on the American Memory page has been abbreviated here.

Using Maps in Research
image: caption follows
Looking at Sanborn Fire Insurance maps helps researchers visualize a subject. In this case, a map of the Ebbets Field area emphasizes how small the Dodgers' home stadium was --surrounded by streets on all sides.

Plate 52 in Brooklyn, New York, vol. 7 Published by Sanborn Map Company, c1932. (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division). Reproduced with permission from EDR Sanborn, Inc.

September 1999

3.3 Notes and Bibliographies

The Chicago Manual describes two different types of reference styles: Documentary-Note Style which is normally used in the humanities, and the Author-Date System, normally used in the sciences. The NDLP uses the Documentary-Note Style.

This section provides a guide to citation styles for text notes and bibliographic entries most commonly used in American Memory documents. Text notes are footnotes or endnotes referencing specific sources for framework documents. Bibliographic entries appear in collection bibliographies as suggestions for further reading or separately as a list of works consulted in writing framework documents. Bibliographic entries are intended to identify works in full bibliographical detail: name(s) of author(s), full title, and place, publisher, and date of publication.

For an explanation of all styles of notes and bibliographic entries, see Chicago 15.1-425.

This section also includes suggested styles for citing Internet documents (absent from the 1993 Chicago Manual).

For guidelines on constructing bibliographies, see Selected Bibliography. Further information about citation styles appears in Illustrations: Captions and Legends.

Documentary-Note Style


Single author

Note style:

1. Eric J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (New York: Pantheon, 1987), 71.

Bibliographic style:

Hobsbawm, Eric J. The Age of Empire, 1875-1914. New York: Pantheon, 1987.

More than one author

Note style:

1. Michael Craton and Gail Saunders, Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992), 24.

Bibliographic style:

Craton, Michael, and Gail Saunders. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992.

An edited work

Note style:

1. Anthony B. Tortelli, ed., Sociology Approaching the Twenty-first Century (Los Angeles: Peter and Sons, 1991).

Bibliographic style:

Tortelli, Anthony B., ed. Sociology Approaching the Twenty-first Century. Los Angeles: Peter and Sons, 1991.


Note style:

1. Andrew J. King. "Law and Land Use in Chicago: A Pre-history of Modern Zoning" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1976), 32-37.

Bibliographic style:

King, Andrew J. "Law and Land Use in Chicago: A Pre-history of Modern Zoning." Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1976.

Chapter from book

Note style:

1. Konrad Repgen, "What Is a 'Religious War'?" in Politics and Society in Reformation Europe, ed. E. I. Kouri and Tom Scott (London: Macmillan, 1987), 324.

Bibliographic style:

Repgen, Konrad. "What Is a 'Religious War'?" In Politics and Society in Reformation Europe, edited by E. I. Kouri and Tom Scott, 311-28. London: Macmillan, 1987.

Journal Articles

Note style:

1. Aileen Kelly, "Dostoevskii and the Divided Conscience," Slavic Review 47 (Summer 1988): 250.

Bibliographic style:

Kelly, Aileen. "Dostoevskii and the Divided Conscience." Slavic Review 47 (Summer 1988): 239-60.

Newspaper Articles

Note style:

1. "Gun Injuries Take Financial Toll on Hospitals," Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1994, sec. 1, p. 23.

Bibliographic style:

"Gun Injuries Take Financial Toll on Hospitals." Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1994, sec. 1, p. 23.

Encyclopedia Articles

Note style:

1. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. "dress and adornment."

Bibliographic style:

no entry ["Well-known reference books are usually not listed in bibliographies," Chicago Manual, 15.293]

Nonprint Media


Note style:

1. Frederick S. Armitage, Bargain day, 14th Street, New York. (United States: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905), paper pos.

Bibliographic style:

Armitage, Frederick S. Bargain day, 14th Street, New York. United States: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905. Paper pos.


Note style:

1. Timothy H. O'Sullivan, "Incidents of the War" (Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, c. 1865).

Bibliographic style:

O'Sullivan, Timothy H. "Incidents of the War" Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, c. 1865.

Sound recording

Note style:

1. Leonard Bernstein, dir., Symphony no. 5, by Dmitri Shostakovich, New York Philharmonic, CBS IM 35854.

Bibliographic style:

Bernstein, Leonard, dir. Symphony no. 5, by Dmitri Shostakovich. New York Philharmonic. CBS IM 35854.

Internet Documents

Citations should indicate a stable page address (URL) that provides easy access to the document including linking instructions.

Web site

Note style:

1. Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 (Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, Library of Congress, 1998), <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/umhtml/umhome.html>, accessed March 3, 1999.

Bibliographic style:

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910. Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, Library of Congress, 1998. <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/umhtml/umhome.html>, accessed March 3, 1999.

Electronic book on Web site

Note style:

1. John H. B. Latrobe, The History of Mason and Dixon's Line: Contained in an Address Delivered by John H. B. Latrobe of Maryland, before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, November 8, 1854 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1855), 31, <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aap/aaphome.html> / Author Index / Latrobe, John H. B. [DIGITAL ID: (h) lcrbmrp t2205], accessed January 13, 1999.

Bibliographic style:

Latrobe, John H. B. The History of Mason and Dixon's Line: Contained in an Address Delivered by John H. B. Latrobe of Maryland, before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, November 8, 1854. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1855. <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aap/aaphome.html> / Author Index / Latrobe, John H. B. [DIGITAL ID: (h) lcrbmrp t2205], accessed January 13, 1999.

This citation reads thus:

  1. go to page http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aap/aaphome.html
  2. click on a link named "Author Index"
  3. then click on a link named "Latrobe, John H. B."
    In brackets we've provided a unique identifier of the document, namely the digital ID, for final verification.

September 1999

3.4 Numbers and Dates

This section covers numbers, dates, and form of inclusive numbers. All guidelines and examples follow the Chicago Manual (8.1-80). As numbers and dates appear frequently in collection frameworks, especially in the Scope and Content Note, the guidelines are intended to clarify NDLP style practices.


Guidelines for spelling out numbers:

Numbers in series: When enumerating a series, use numerals:

This collection contains 7 audiorecordings, 15 videorecordings, and 400 photographs.

Numbers in the same sentence but not part of the quantified category may be treated differently:

This collection contains 7 audio-recordings and 15 video-recordings from twenty-three states and 400 photographs by ten authors.

Consistency: When small and large numbers occur together in a group, set them all in numerals for consistency. When listing sets of numbers, Chicago 8.8 advises that "if you must use numerals for one of the numbers in a given category, then for consistency's sake use numerals for them all."

There are 25 photographs in the first box, 56 in the second box, and 117 in the third box, making a total of 198 photographs in the three boxes.

Quantities (Chicago 8.3-31):

Fractions (Chicago 8.14) are hyphenated as either adjectives or nouns (e.g., a two-thirds majority, two-thirds of those present). For decimal fractions (Chicago 8.17), use numerals (e.g., 3.14, 0.02).

Use numerals for numbered items such as parts of a book (Chicago 8.32) (e.g., chapter 5, part 2, page 35, volume 4).


Guidelines for spelling out numbers: (Chicago 8.33-46)

The year alone (Chicago 8.34) should be expressed in numerals, unless it is at the beginning of a sentence (Chicago 8.9). Era designations (Chicago 8.41) should be given in capitals, with the following style for periods and spacing: A.D. 1800, 75 B.C.

The day of the month (Chicago 8.36) in running text, notes, and bibliographies is written in the sequence month-day-year, with the year set off by commas:

October 6, 1966

On October 6, 1966, nothing happened.

Write the day of the month as a cardinal number (e.g., April 18, not April 18th).

Month and year (Chicago 8.39) are written in the sequence month-year with no internal punctuation (e.g., April 1993).

Centuries and decades (Chicago 8.40) should be spelled out in lowercase letters (e.g. ninth century, twentieth century). Spell out decades (the sixties, the seventies) or if the decade is identified by the century, write them as plural numerals (1920s, 1880s).

Compound adjectives should be hyphenated (e.g., a twentieth-century school of thought).

Time of day (Chicago 8.47) normally should be spelled out in text (e.g., quarter of four, noon, seven o'clock), but for emphasis write time in numerals, capitalizing A.M. and P.M. (2:30 P.M., 7:30 A.M.)


Form of Inclusive Numbers

Guidelines for form of inclusive numbers (Chicago 8.68-73):

Inclusive numbers: Follow this model, which appears in Chicago 8.69:

Less than 100 Use all digits 3-10, 71-72, 96-117
100 or multiple of 100 Use all digits 100-104, 600-613, 1100-1123
101 through 109 (in multiples of 100) Use changed part only, omitting unneeded zeros 107-8, 505-17, 1002-6
110 through 199 (in multiples of 100) Use two digits, or more if needed 321-25, 415-532, 1536-38, 1496-504, 14325-28, 11564-78, 13792-803

Separating numbers with dashes (Chicago 8.68): Always write "167-72," never "from 167-72." As the dash implies 'from' and 'to,' it is redundant to use the words as well as the dash. Without the dash, however, write "from 167 to 172."

Inclusive years (Chicago 8.71):

When referring to years within the same century but after the first year of that century, use this style:

When referring to different centuries or a time span when the century changes, repeat all the digits: Titles (Chicago 8.72):

When inclusive years occur in titles, express all the digits:

The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929.
If, however, the title of a published work contains abbreviated inclusive dates, the abbreviation should be retained.


When displaying the span of an individual's life, express all the digits:

October 2000

3.5 Punctuation

This section refers only to punctuation in running text as described in Chicago 5.1-137 and 10.1-86. For punctuation style in notes and bibliographies, numbers and dates, and so forth, consult those sections.

Punctuation should be used to make the author's meaning clear, promote ease of reading, and contribute to the author's style. The trend in contemporary writing is to punctuate only when necessary to prevent misreading of text (Chicago 5.1-2).

Writers should consult Chicago for guidance in specific instances, but the following are reminders for special situations:

Typography: For italicized text appearing in a sentence that is otherwise in Roman characters see guidelines in Chicago 5.4-6.

Quotation marks: See Chicago (5.11-13, 5.20, 5.28, 5.86-87, 5.96, 5.104) for guidance on using quotation marks with periods, commas, semi-colons, question marks, and exclamation points. In almost all cases periods and commas are placed inside quotation marks, semi-colons outside, and question marks and exclamation points inside or outside depending on the intent of the punctuation.

Framework elements named in running text should be capitalized, but should not be enclosed in quotation marks. Thus: For further details see Acknowledgments.

Commas in a series (Chicago 5.57-61):

Other uses and rules for commas are described in Chicago 5.30-65.

Em dashes (Chicago 5.105-19): Use two hyphens to indicate an em dash in running text:

Because the data had not yet been completely analyzed--the reason for this will be discussed later--the publication of the report was delayed.

Warning: certain word-processing programs have default settings that automatically convert two hyphens to something else. WordPerfect, for example, converts two hyphens to its own format of em dash, which is later lost when the WP document is converted to ASCII for HTML markup. This default setting can be turned off.

Ellipsis points (Chicago 10.48-63):

Hyphens: Correct hyphenation is one of the trickiest and most time-consuming tasks a writer or editor faces. As the language changes, conventions of hyphenation change with it. The earlier trend of stately progression from open compound to hyphenated word to closed compound has shifted toward a more rapid progression from open compound to closed compound, often skipping the hyphenated stage altogether. Writers should consult Chicago (6.32-6.42 and especially table 6.1), and, as Chicago recommends, a good dictionary.

September 1999

3.6 Spelling and Special Terms

This section of the handbook suggests guidelines for spelling and for the use of special names and terms.

General Guidelines for Spelling

Guidelines for NDLP spelling style may be summarized as follows:

General Guidelines for Special Terms

In writing documents for American Memory collection frameworks:

Glossary of Special Terms

The list of terms presented here is necessarily selective. For examples of the correct use of the technical terminology specific to the work of the NDLP, see Background Papers and Technical Information: Documents Relating to Digitization Efforts at the Library of Congress.

Special Term Description of Meaning
archival image An uncompressed or lossless compressed higher quality image provided to users for reproduction or held for future reprocessing as compression or other image-processing standards change.
bibliographic records

catalog records

descriptive information

Records created to describe items and primarily used for discovery may include subject and item information, physical descriptions, title, and creator information. Official Library of Congress records are in MARC format.

The American Memory collections have a combination of MARC-format records, delimited database records, and register-style finding aids. Bibliographic records, catalog records, and descriptive information terms often used interchangeably in referring to American Memory online collections may be generally taken as synonyms for NDLP purposes.

digital item Any part or version of a work that is available to the public in electronic format on the Web. Thus, a book with 150 pages could be 151 digital items, including all the page images and a converted text file. See also "library item."
Division Organizational entity within the Library of Congess with custodial, public-service, or technical-support responsibility for the collection.
DTD Document Type Definition, a plan for encoding text documents with Standard Generalized Markup Language(SGML). Printed texts for American Memory are keyed as ASCII text and encoded according to the American Memory DTD for Historical Documents.
EAD Encoded Archival Description DTD, a standard for encoding archival finding aids.
format Always qualify the use of the word "format" to specify which of its two meanings is intended:

(1) The physical medium of the original Library item. Formats include pictorial images, sound recordings, moving images, maps, and manuscript documents, as well as books and pamphlets.

(2) A type of file for the storage, compression, and exchange of digital information. JPEG, GIF, or TIFF are referred to as image file formats requiring specific software for viewing and editing.

framework A set of illustrated HTML (HyperText Markup Language) text files that serve as the collection home page or home page group. The framework is so named because it provides an intellectual frame for the collection and embraces the other collection elements.
GIF Graphics Interchange Format, an image file format. The American Memory interface uses GIF images for thumbnail versions of pictorial materials or page-turner versions of text materials.
HTML HyperText Markup Language, the encoding scheme for World Wide Web pages. HTML is a subset of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).
JFIF JPEG File Interchange Format. A standard for transmission of an image in JPEG format (see below).
JPEG Joint Photographic Expert Group, a file format for compressing color or grayscale images. Many Web browsers easily display JPEG format images. The NDLP uses JPEGs as a means of providing a "reference image" or a "service image" (see terms below) for online viewing.
LCSH Library of Congress Subject Headings, an authority list of subject terms used in bibliographic records to standardize vocabulary for searching.
library item A work held physically by the Library of Congress and identified in an online collection by a descriptive record, e.g., a book, a photograph, a box of photos, a letter, a folder of letters, a map, an audio recording, a motion picture. See also "digital item."
MARC Machine-Readable Cataloging record. MARC formats are officially described as "standards for representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form." Today's library automation systems use MARC as a universally understood data exchange format.
multiformat A multiformat online collection contains digitized library items whose original formats were varied. An example is The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, which contains documents, prints, photographs, and a motion picture.
online collection An NDLP/American Memory collection, which may be:
  • a coherent archival entity (e.g., the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, Manuscript Division);
  • a cumulative grouping held by a Library special collections division (e.g., the Paper Print Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division); or
  • an anthology collection assembled by the NDLP itself.
rekeyed text Text that has been transcribed into an electronic file in order to render it searchable.
repository (1) The name of the organization that has custody of the original work. This information can help to locate or cite the original.

(2) A system for tracking, maintaining, and storing digital objects and metadata.

RFP Request for Proposal, a description of work that is used to solicit bids from contractors outside the Library. The NDLP RFPs describe the work to be preformed and requirements for digitization.
service image Service images are accessed by clicking on the GIFs appearing in the bibliographic records of online collections using images. Pictorial online collections often include a second set of images known as reference images.
SGML Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO 8879), a formal notation for describing parts of a document and the relationships among them.
special presentation A document (essay, timeline, sampler, etc.) prepared for an online collection to show its highlights or historical significance or to give essential historical background.


Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms, an authority list of subject terms used to standardize vocabulary in bibliographic records for pictorial materials other than motion pictures. (TGM2 refers to the companion volume, Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre and Physical Characteristic Terms.)
thumbnail image A small image, typically presented with a bibliographic record, that users can look at in order to judge whether they wish to take the time to retrieve a higher quality image.
TIFF Tagged Interchange File Format, an image file format. The American Memory collections use TIFF Group IV compression for bitonal images primarily for printed materials and TIFF uncompressed for grayscale and color images of manuscript and printed materials.

September 1999

4. Editorial Process

During the editorial process, collection framing documents (including annotations) are edited for correctness and clarity of language. The editors are primarily concerned with the style rather than the subject matter or visual design of the documents they review, although they may raise occasional questions about points of content or suggest changes in a document's organization to enhance its presentation in the online environment.

In all cases, editing follows the standards established by the Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.), modified by the NDLP house editing practices outlined in the guidelines for mechanics and substantive writing sections of this handbook. The Library of Congress has a long tradition of stylistic excellence in its print publications, and it is the responsibility of the editorial process to see that the Library's online texts meet those same high standards.

Successful editing is a collaborative process that depends on continuous dialogue between writer and editor. It is vitally important, therefore, that the editorial team be involved in collection planning from a very early stage. These are the steps in the editorial process:

(1) Initial consultation. As soon as the collection's framework has been planned, team/project leaders meet with members of the editorial team to tell them what the framework will be like and to inform them of the production schedule.

(2) Document development. Framework documents are created by the collection production teams and/or the staff of the appropriate division, or by outside consultants. They may be edited by Division editors before being delivered to the NDLP editorial team. NDLP editors welcome information, questions, and discussion about framework materials at any point as they are being written: the more the editors know about a collection's special requirements before they receive the framework documents for editorial review, the more responsive they can be thereafter.

(3) Submission of document files. All framework documents must be delivered to the NDLP editorial team at least two months before a collection's release date. Documents should be delivered on disk in WordPerfect or Word. Collection production teams should be sure that each document has been fact-checked and spell-checked before delivery.

(4) Primary editorial review. Once a set of collection documents has been delivered to the editorial team, it is assigned to one of the editors for primary review. Editorial changes, which may concern spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, style, organization, and (if necessary) content, are made in the electronic file. Occasionally, when extensive revision of a particular passage (or an entire document) is required, the editor simply makes a note of the problem and requests a rewrite and resubmission. The editor may also consult with the writer or collection project leader concerning problems or questions discovered during editorial review. Primary review is an extremely time-consuming process, requiring meticulous and multiple examinations of each document. The length of time it takes for any given collection depends on the length and quality of the documents submitted.

(5) Secondary review. Before an edited document is returned to its project team, it is briefly reviewed by a second member of the editorial team to make certain that no errors or infelicities have gone unnoticed and that it accords with Chicago Manual and house style. Project leaders should note that the amount of text that goes into one single-spaced printed page requires approximately two hours of editorial time during the primary and secondary review processes together.

(6) Return of document files. When all the documents for a collection have been edited, the editors make a copy of each edited document file and return the files in person to the collection team, often accompanied by a cover memorandum clarifying some of the editorial changes and providing additional comments or suggestions about the documents.

(7) Follow-up. Writers and collection team members are encouraged to contact the editors with any questions or concerns they may have about the edited documents, no matter how seemingly trivial, at any time. In addition, the editor who has worked on a particular collection contacts the project leader a few days after each edited document set has been returned, to see if there are any questions and to schedule a follow-up meeting if desired.

(8) Non-editorial staff review. If someone other than an editor finds an error in a document when it is in the test region or after it has gone online, he or she should email comments or questions to both the relevant project team leader and an NDLP editor, so that appropriate corrections can be made.

(9) Collection updates. The editorial process applies to all framework materials, whether they are part of a collection's initial release or part of an update, and must take place whenever a document is revised. Project teams are requested to identify whatever is new in the collection updates. If revisions are minimal, however, it is sufficient to let the editors know as soon as the revised version is in the test region.

September 1999


5. Editorial Support

This section provides information about Internet and print resources related to editing and writing. There is a small library of editorial materials in LA G-04; for further information, consult with a member of the NDLP editorial team.

NDLPEDIT Listserv is a private forum where new editorial questions can be raised. The list is open only to NDLP staff. To subscribe send the message subscribe ndlpedit to listserv@loc.gov. Send your message in the body of the text, not in the subject line.

Web Resources

Online Reference Sources

Acronyms/Abbreviations -- terms with a focus on computers and technology

Bookbinding/The Conservation of Books -- A Dictionary of
Descriptive Terminology, Matt T. Roberts

Britannica Online

Dictionary of PC Hardware and Data Communications Terms

Fifty States and Capitals Reference Resource

FOLDOC: Free Online Dictionary of Computing (case sensitive)

How Users Read on the Web -- usability study by Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes.

Information Please Dictionary

Internet Public Library Reference Center

Library of Congress Country Studies

Library of Congress WWW Style Guide,

Libweb -- Library Web Servers of the World

MDA Glossary -- for business executives by MDA Computing Ltd.,

Merriam-Webster WWWebster Dictionary

Merriam-Webster WWWebster Thesaurus

Online Dictionaries (multilingual)

PC Weblopædia -- search engine dedicated to computer technology

Pedro's Dictionaries -- multilingual dictionaries from Iowa State University

Statistical Abstract of the United States (1997)

Thesaurus of Geographic Names

U.S. Gazetteer

World Fact Book (1997) -- C.I.A.; click on "countries" to access

WordNet -- select "Use WordNet Online" and then "HTML forms

WorldWideWeb Acronym and Abbreviation Server

Online Resources Citation Guides

A Brief Citation Guide for Internet Sources in History and the Humanities

Citing Cyberspace [book online] -- James D. Lester (1997)
Click on the "Online Citation Guides" from the Longman site.

Citing Electronic Resources Page -- Internet Public Library

Citing Print and Electronic Research Sources -- Carol Hansen
A few examples are available under "Chicago/Turabian Style."

Inkspot, the Writer's Resource

John Hewitt's Writers' Resource Center

Library & Information Science: Citation Guides for Electronic Documents -- IFLANET

National Writers Union Online Resources

Writers' Workshop Online Writing Guide, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Recommended Books

On classification of terminologies for different fields:

Glazier, Stephen. Word Menu. New York: Random House, 1992.

On editing:

Skillin, Marjorie E., and Robert M. Gay. Words into Type. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall, 1974.

On grammar:

Chalker, Sylvia, and Edmund Weiner. The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Dumond, Val. Grammar for Grownups. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993.

Gordon, Karen Elizabeth. The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993.

On usage:

Ebbitt, Wilma R., and David R. Ebbitt. Index to English. 8th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Fowler, H.W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Garner, Bryan A. A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Morris, William, and Mary Morris. Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 3rd ed. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 1979.

Timmons, Christine, and Frank Gibney, eds. Britannica Book of English Usage. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday/Britannica Books, 1980.

On substantive writing and editing:

Williams, Joseph M. Style: Towards Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

June 2000

6. Collection Framework

Within the NDLP, the term "collection framework" refers to the documents and supporting materials prepared by project teams, Division staff, and outside experts to introduce users to the online collections. The framework documents provide a means for users to find, understand, and use online collections.

Project leaders coordinate the selection, creation, and editing of framing materials with subject specialists and the NDLP editorial team. They also coordinate the design and production of the framework Web pages with the Web design team.

All collection framework components should:

Collection framework components typically include the following:

6.1 About the Collection*

6.2 Acknowledgments*

6.3 Building the Digital Collection*

6.4 Cataloging the Collection

6.5 Copyright and Other Restrictions*

6.6 Related Resources

6.7 Scope and Content Note*

6.8 Selected Bibliography

6.9 Special Presentations **

6.10 Other Components (including "How to View" *)

* This framework element is mandatory.

** This framework element is strongly recommended.

September 1999

6.1 About the Collection

This framework element is mandatory.

About the Collection should accomplish the following goals: establish the provenance, historical significance, and importance of the original collection; describe and quantify the content of the online collection; and explain the relationship between the physical and online collections. If necessary, it should include a brief statement on any collection materials that might offend some users. If applicable to the collection, it should also acknowledge support of a donor, explain the selection principles used, and describe future release plans.

Content should include:

Organization elements:


Models of shorter documents include:

Models of longer documents include:

September 1999

6.2 Acknowledgments

This framework element is mandatory.

The Acknowledgments section recognizes the contributions of those who sponsored or participated in the creation of the online collection and provides a record of responsibility. It should accomplish one or more of the following goals: identify what was done and who was responsible for each element, at either the unit or individual level; recognize donors, authors, non-LC contributors, and other individual contributors; and acknowledge the use of previously published materials.

Content may include some or all of the following information:

As collections are updated, acknowledgements should be revised as necessary.

Organization: Arrange names according to one or more of the following principles:



By Popular Demand: "Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920

Pioneering the Upper Midwest

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation


Taking the Long View

The Leonard Bernstein Collection, ca. 1920-1989


Built in America

September 1999

6.3 Building the Digital Collection

This framework element is mandatory.

Building the Digital Collection is intended primarily for Library of Congress staff and national and international digital-library colleagues. It is usually written by the project leader with assistance from the production liaison. In view of the subject matter greater latitude for the use of technical language is permitted in this section than in other framework elements.

Content may:

Describe the digitization process and methodology, including:

Describe special challenges, including constraints of capture-device technology, the condition of original materials, conservation practices, or changes in method of delivery or presentation of digital files.

Give specifications for digital files, including file format, compression, spatial and tonal resolution for images; sampling rate for audio; frames per second for video; and the average file size for each type of file.

Link to American Memory technical documents that explain processes and guidelines for digitization, including the Requests for Proposals (RFP), How to View page, text conversion, and finding aid Document Type Definitions (DTD).


"California As I Saw It"
Built in America
Panoramic Maps

September 1999

6.4 Cataloging the Collection

Cataloging the Collection explains the methods used to catalog both the original physical collection and the online collection and provides users with information about searchable terms and fields. It describes the source and format of the parent record or bibliographic data (e.g., MARC, finding aid, non-MARC). It identifies the collection access points that can be searched (creator, title, date, notes, subjects or topics, etc.) and cites the descriptive or subject cataloging tools used to classify the access points.

Content may include:

Organization may include:


Prints and Photographs Division (collection with MARC item-level records; includes an introduction and a cataloging tools bibliography):

Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955
Geography and Map Division (collection with MARC item-level records; includes an introduction and a cataloging tools bibliography):
Map Collections, 1597-1988
Prints and Photographs Division (collection with finding aid item-level records; includes an introduction and a cataloging tools bibliography):
Baseball Cards, 1887-1914

September 1999

6.5 Copyright and Other Restrictions

This framework element is mandatory.


        September 1999

6.6 Related Resources

Related Resources provides a means of combining a Selected Bibliography with suggestions about related resources in the Library of Congress, in other libraries, and on external Web sites.

A model for the Related Resources document follows.

[Collection Name] : Related Resources

In the Library of Congress || In Other Institutions || Related External Web Sites || Selected Bibliography ||

Use any of the headings above with the subheadings below that are applicable.

If you use In the Library of Congress, applicable subheadings might include:

If you use In Other Institutions, applicable subheadings might include:

If you use Related External Web Sites, applicable subheadings might include:

If you use Selected Bibliography, see the Selected Bibliography section for guidance and suggestions on bibliographical entries; see Notes and Bibliographies for specific information about form and style of bibliographical entries.

September 1999

6.7 Scope and Content Note

This framework element is mandatory.

The Scope and Content Note is the single most important element of the collection framework. Since it appears on the home page, it is often the only piece of the framework seen by users of American Memory collections and it provides a vital means of attracting users to the collection. It is used verbatim in the American Memory brochure distributed to NDLP guests and visitors and is the framework element most likely to be quoted as part of other descriptions of the collection, such as press releases or Web notices.

Scope and Content briefly describes the collection's content. It is probably best to open with a sentence that highlights the most interesting aspects of the collection, but any of the elements listed below can come first if that is most appropriate for the collection at hand. Further details of the overview presented in the Scope and Content Note can be elaborated in About the Collection.

Content elements (used as appropriate for the collection):

Organization elements:

September 1999

6.8 Selected Bibliography

A Selected Bibliography suggests reading matter related to the subject of the collection.

Bibliographies are not mandatory for collections, but many team leaders choose to include them as an additional resource. Bibliographies often include related Web site resources, though it should be noted that some collections combine bibliographical entries and Web resources under the heading of Related Resources.

Specific information about form and style in bibliographical entries appears in the style section Notes and Bibliographies.

Content may include the following:

Organization frequently includes the following:

September 1999

6.9 Special Presentations

This framework element is stongly recommended.

A Special Presentation is a document (e.g., essay, timeline, sampler) designed to attract general users into an online collection by showing a collection's highlights or historical significance or by giving essential historical background. Special Presentations are prepared by Division staff, outside experts, and project leaders.

Content may include any or all of the following:

Organization elements:

Examples of special presentations include:

September 1999

6.10 Other Components

Other documents that may appear as part of collection frameworks include:

September 1999

7. The Learning Page

The Learning Page is a Web site created by NDLP User Services and is designed to help teachers, students, and lifelong learners who use the American Memory collections.The Learning Page provides navigational, technical, and contextual guidance in finding and using items within these primary source collections. It also:

Content includes:

For contractors creating content and American Memory Fellows designing lesson plans, the Learning Page has a style guide based on the Chicago Manual of Style, the Library Web Style Guide, and Learning Page-specific requirements.


The Learning Page has eight sections:

(1) Search Help contains search strategy tips and Pathfinders organized by events, people, places, time, and topics that provide navigational guidance to American Memory collections.

(2) Features are presentations that bring together items from across the collections to highlight specific themes.

(3) Learn More About the Collections! are presentations that explore individual collections in terms of their history and social-studies and language-arts content and provide a centralized location for Library Web resources related to the collection as well as collection-specific technical and search tips.

(4) Activities are problem-solving games that draw upon American Memory materials and focus on the development of visual and information literacy skills.

(5) Educators' Programs are training opportunities for educators to learn about using American Memory materials in their classrooms. These programs include the American Memory Fellows Program, which culminates in the weeklong Educators Institute each summer, as well as online workshops, conferences, and real time workshop opportunities.

(6) Lesson Ideas contain lesson suggestions and plans created by American Memory Fellows and other educators.

(7) Research Tools contains information about citing American Memory electronic resources, copyright and fair use, resources outside American Memory for further research, and technical guidance for students and teachers.

(8) New is a central location where users can learn about additions to the Learning Page.


Coordination with Collection Production

Since the Learning Page provides learning tools and other resources for American Memory collections, Learning Page staff rely upon:

September 1999