The objective of these guidelines is to provide staff of UN libraries engaged in subject analysis with a comprehensive set of principles to ensure a consistent approach in indexing various types of UN documents and publications. While many of the principles may apply to cataloguing and indexing non-UN materials, the guidelines focus on indexing the Organization's documentation in its various forms.

Important functions of indexing are to:

  • Allow systematic searching for documents that are mainly about certain subjects, or for information or concepts contained in documents;
  • Allow systematic searching for documents based on defined search criteria (types of documents, authors, issuing bodies, titles, publication date, etc.);
  • Identify specific documents precisely and distinguish between similar documents;
  • Provide information about documents such as physical description, contents notes or summary/annotation notes, notes about errors or anomalies in documents, relationship with other documents, language versions, etc.;
  • Locate documents in the Library collections and/or provide access to electronic text of documents when available.

To fulfill those functions, both subject analysis and bibliographic description are integral parts of the indexing process, providing metadata that can be used in searches or displayed in formatted records.

Subject analysis is the part of the indexing process that deals with

  • Translation of that conceptual analysis into the controlled subject vocabulary (term selection)


Maintained by the Department of Public Information (DPI), Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Comments as well as suggestions for further additions/enhancements may be directed to the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.
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Last updated: 9 June 2009