Quick ONIX reference for simplified entry

Document deprecated

This document has been superseded by a longer and more complete document

A guide to BNC Webform data entry and code list references

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BookNet Canada's /wiki/spaces/bish/pages/1395126 for ONIX creation and some other ONIX supporting software have simplified screens and are intended to used by rank beginners.  Using ONIX properly has a real learning curve and the full manual is always the best resource.

But here we give you quick answers.

First off: What are you doing in general?  Well look at Amazon or Indigo On-line and you can see stuff up on books. If you've done that you already know most of what you need to know here.  The best site to explore for what you can put into a file for Canadian publishers is


What you see here comes to you from ONIX through data they've downloaded from BiblioShare.  

Second point is you're creating a "Product" record – something someone will buy by looking at your information about your book on another company's website.  So if it's a print book pick it up.  The Title comes off the title page and the subtitle is the secondary title found there.  Contributor is the author, the measures are found by using a ruler and a scale, you say where a retailer can find the barcode... and so on.  

If it's a digital book, go about it exactly the same way, except if you can't measure, weigh or barcode then DO NOT supply metadata on that.  If it doesn't apply don't use it.  You will need to supply special codes that describe a digital book – just the same way there are special codes for describing physical ones.

In short: You're describing what the consumer gets.   Every product get's it's own ISBN and it's own ONIX record.

When using a "simplified" form you should check out all options but if they don't apply don't sweat it – just leave them blank.   For example Series are useful for marketing but not all books are in series.




TagNameShort answerExpected? Why
Record referenceUse the ISBN-13 hereYES
all records 

Every ONIX record should carry a unique number – used to identify the metadata record.
Any unique code could work here, but because the ISBN already identifies the product
you're selling using the same number to identify the record about the product is a quick
solution to maintaining a unique number 

Notification typedefault as "03"YES
all records 
Notification type is about the record as well. It tells the recipient how much trust to put in
the metadata (pre-publication information can change) or might be used to convey
advanced problems that a small publisher should email trading partners about.
product formBC=paperback
DG=digital book (PDF or eBook) 
all records 
An ONIX record is a Product record as defined above. What form does it take in the
broadest terms possible? That's what goes here.
DO NOT use code BA "book." It's there for situations like if a distributor doesn't know more.
Audio books are "A_"  Ask for help if you need to describe a product with more than one
Product Form like "book and toy" or "book and DVD"
Product form detailB102 is Trade paperback

Optional but expected
on most physical

A place to add detail to what you've said for Product Form. If it's a paperback retailers
need to know what type it is - and that's almost always a "Trade Paperback" . Look at the list
and you'll find things that might describe your book, and the full ONIX code list contains
good explanatory notes. Google terms you don't understand as you'll usually find definitions.
Don't kill yourself adding "Detail" but these are primary data points used by retailers – you'll
need to understand what's important to your trading partners. 
Epublication type

002 is PDF
029 is EPUB 

Digital books
In ONIX 2.1 digital books don't typically use Product Form Detail (there are some choices for fixed
format or free flow choices), but this the digital equivalent to a Product Form Detail. In ONIX 3.0
these values are found in Product Form Detail.
BarcodeCode: 10 is likelyPhysical books

Do you have a standard ISBN-13 based barcode? It's called an EAN13 Barcode.
Where doe it appear? Retailers want to know. Cover 4 is the back cover, so a basic EAN barcode
there is code "10" / Multiple barcodes including UPC? The simplified data entry forms don't usually
support repeating barcode information, so choose the expected one for book retailers: EAN13 Barcode

Work identifier

Use when you've published this
work in more than one format
and ISBN

Optional, but
Digital book sellers in particular want this but each ONIX record describes a Product.
If you sold the same "work" or title in multiple formats wouldn't it be nice if ALL the records
shared an identifier?  So in all such records select "01 Proprietary" and fill in a shared value in
the box beside it – a unique code please – don't use the book title spaces and all as that's
no help to anyone.
Title prefix
Title without prefix 
Use only if your book title
contains a prefix 

If your title has a prefix, then it's useful to separate prefix text from the remaining text to help the retailer index the title properly. Simply put the Prefix in one box and the title without it (how it would be alphabetized) in the box for Title without prefix.

If your title does not have a prefix, simply ignore the prefix and title-without-prefix fields and leave them blank. Only enter the full title in the main title field.

Distinct titleAs it appears on the bookYES
all records 
Name code type
Name code value 
Use only if you're supplying
your ONIX metadata to

More than you want to know available here:

What’s an imprint code? How do I use it?

Imprint nameAs it appears on the bookYES
all records 
The Publisher is the company who published the book. The Imprint is the brand, how it appears
on the book. Publisher are Imprint are often the same thing but retailers like to know for sure.
Publisher nameAs it appears on the bookYES
all records 
See Imprint Name above – but normally the Publisher Name is the name of the company that signs
contracts and whose name appears on the Title and Copyright page 
Publication dateThe date this ISBN was first soldYES
all records 
Dates in ONIX are YYYYMMDD – no hyphens, slashes or marks. Dates are "text" fields
Publishing status02 is forthcoming
04 is Active 
all records 
A way for the supply chain to understand where your book is in it's lifecycle. Nothing is
in print forever. "Forthcoming" is "before publication" and you should update your record to "Active"
when it becomes available. The value should make sense with the Publication Date and the
Supply Detail's Product availability code. 

Supplier name
Supplier role
Product Availability 
Currency Code 

Print and digital products
can be different but it's
probably your company name

10 is Forthcoming
20 is Availably 

all records

For Print books the Supplier would normally be your distributor but whatever company that a
RETAILER contacts to order stock is the Supplier.

For Digital books, the Publisher's name appears as the Supplier because they are who a retailer
contact in order to sell the book. If this ISBN is uniquely available from only one source, a retailer,
then you can specify that source using Supplier Role code "08".

The Product availability information is mandatory.