International Standard Serial Number


The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit unique identifier used to distinguish and identify serial publications, such as journals, newspapers, and magazines. It simplifies the management and exchange of information between libraries, publishers, and distribution channels. The ISSN is not related to the content of the publication and remains unchanged during the lifetime of the serial, even if its title changes.


The phonetic pronunciation of “International Standard Serial Number” is: ɪnˌtɚˈnæʃənəl ˈstændərd ˈsɪriəl ˈnʌmbər

Key Takeaways

  1. International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a unique eight-digit code used to identify and distinguish periodicals, such as journals, newspapers, and other print and electronic serials.
  2. ISSN simplifies the management, indexing, and retrieval of serial publications in libraries, databases, and content-sharing platforms, thus improving their discoverability for users worldwide.
  3. Two versions of ISSN are assigned for print and electronic versions of the same publication – respectively called ISSN(Print) and ISSN-L (Linking).


The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an important technology term as it serves as a unique and globally recognized identifier for serial publications, such as magazines, journals, newspapers, and other periodicals.

It facilitates easier management, search, and retrieval of these publications in various information systems, libraries, and databases, streamlining distribution and ensuring accurate referencing in academic and professional contexts.

By providing a standardized identification system for serials, ISSN promotes efficient communication and collaboration among publishers, researchers, and librarians and contributes to the overall organization and accessibility of global information resources.


The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) primarily serves the purpose of providing a unique identifier for serial publications, fostering efficient and reliable management of these resources for various stakeholders, including publishers, libraries, and database providers. Its usage spans across different media formats, such as print, electronic, and even online resources, ensuring consistent identification of serials in a highly diverse media landscape.

As a standardized numeric code, it simplifies the tracking, archiving, and exchange of information about these serial publications on a global scale. One notable application of the ISSN is in the cataloging and management systems employed by libraries and documentation centers, facilitating seamless access to serial publications for researchers and patrons.

By incorporating the ISSN into their search systems, libraries streamline the retrieval process, while also enabling accurate monitoring of subscription services and interlibrary loans. Moreover, with the ISSN at its core, a universal bibliographic database called the ISSN Register has been developed, centralizing serial publication information from across the globe, ultimately aiding researchers, academics, and stakeholders in locating and disseminating scholarly publications with greater ease and efficiency.

Examples of International Standard Serial Number

The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a unique eight-digit number that is used to identify print and electronic periodicals, such as newspapers, magazines, and journals. Here are three real-world examples where the ISSN technology is used:

Library Cataloging: Libraries worldwide use ISSN to catalogue and manage their periodical collections. By assigning a unique ISSN to each periodical, libraries can easily track, store, and retrieve information about the publications in their databases, making it easier for users to search and access these resources.

Academic Research: ISSN plays a significant role in scholarly research and publishing, as it helps researchers and academics to identify, locate, and cite specific periodicals easily and accurately. Most scholarly journals and conference proceedings have an ISSN, making it convenient to manage references and bibliographies and reducing the chances of citation errors.

Online Databases and Indexing Services: Many online databases of periodicals and indexing services, such as Scopus, Web of Science, and PubMed, utilize ISSN to uniquely identify and categorize journals, newspapers, and magazines. This helps users to search for articles, set up alerts for new publications in their research areas, and also helps database providers to maintain their records more efficiently.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) FAQ

What is an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)?

An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit number used to uniquely identify a serial publication, such as magazines, journals, and newspapers. It helps in managing and organizing these publications in databases and libraries worldwide.

Why is ISSN important?

ISSN is important as it provides a standardized method for identifying serial publications. This enables efficient management of serials, simplifies search and retrieval in databases, and supports the sharing of bibliographic data between libraries and other organizations.

How do I obtain an ISSN for my publication?

To obtain an ISSN, you need to contact the national ISSN center responsible for your country. You can find the contact details for your national center on the ISSN International Centre’s website. Submit the required information to the national center, and they will assign an ISSN to your publication.

Is there a cost associated with obtaining an ISSN?

Costs for obtaining an ISSN may vary depending on the country. Some national ISSN centers provide the service for free, while others may charge a fee. You should contact your national ISSN center for specific information about fees and the application process.

Can one ISSN be used for multiple publications?

No, each serial publication requires a unique ISSN. If you have multiple serial publications, you must obtain a separate ISSN for each one. Additionally, different media formats (e.g., print and electronic) of the same publication require separate ISSNs.

Related Technology Terms

  • Serial publications
  • ISSN Register
  • ISSN Network
  • Unique identifier
  • Periodicals

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