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

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:
  • Follow the guidelines for spelling and distinctive treatment of words outlined in Chicago 6.1-92. Note that table 6.1 in Chicago offers specific guidance on rules for spelling of compound words and words with prefixes and suffixes. NDLP and other staff writing documents for the Web should become thoroughly familiar with its content.

  • The NDLP prefers that spellings be checked against Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition), but will also accept the American Heritage Dictionary and the Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Use one dictionary consistently with any set of documents.

  • The NDLP accepts spellings peculiar to certain disciplines (e.g., some specialists in North American studies prefer "archeology" rather than the more commonly found "archaeology").

  • Where the dictionary offers two acceptable spellings for the same word (e.g., focused, focussed), choose the first and use that spelling consistently throughout a single set of framework documents.

  • Use the following forms consistently:

    emailthe Web
    home pageWeb master
    multiformatWeb page
    onlineWeb site
    timelinethe World Wide Web

General Guidelines for Special Terms

In writing documents for American Memory collection frameworks:
  • Follow the general guidelines for names and terms set forth in Chicago 7.1-161.

  • Use words and terms in a manner consistent with their application and meaning across the NDLP.

  • Use modifiers wherever necessary to clarify words and terms that may have multiple or ambiguous meanings.

  • Express words and terms in ways that the general user can understand.

  • When referring to an American Memory collection, use the term "online collection" rather than "collection," which may refer to the physical collection in the Library.

  • When referring to a collection "item," specify whether it is a "digital item" or a "library item," as the two have very different meanings.

  • In general, spell out acronyms the first time they are used within a document, except in lists and tables.

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