International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

Welsh Books Council

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit number which identifies the title of serial publications, including electronic serials. It does for journals, magazines, electronic journals, ongoing directories, annual reports, newspapers, monographic series and similar publications what ISBNs do for books. It does not, however, identify individual issues and does not change from one issue to the next. Its use is essential for all serial publications which have a bar code or are sold through major retailers. As it is also used throughout the information chain by libraries, subscription agents, researchers and a growing number of smaller retailers, it is all but indispensable for smaller publications, too.

Note that ISSNs must be obtained for:

  • CD-ROMs and diskettes which are intended to be issued on a continuous basis
  • different editions of serials (by, say, language or region)
  • different formats (e.g. CD-ROM, online and print versions)
  • monographs, both paper and electronic: an ISSN must be obtained in addition to an ISBN

ISSNs are not assigned to:

  • Web pages consisting mainly of links
  • individual or company home pages
  • magazine specials
  • calendars, diaries, posters

ISSNs are issued in the UK by:

ISSN UK Centre
The British Library
Boston Spa
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BQ

Tel. 01937 546959
Fax 01937 546562


Date last updated: 21 Jun 2013