Frequently Asked Questions about ISSN

Note

Due to the high volume of ISSN requests being received, staff of the Legislative Library have created this FAQ. Links to further information on ISSN are included in these answers. Should you have any further questions, please contact us at ISN@ola.org.

Introduction

An ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is a unique international identifier for serial publications. The ISSN program is international in scope and is directed in Canada by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) – ISSN Canada. The Legislative Library coordinates the ISSN assignment for Ontario government documents on behalf of LAC – ISSN Canada. ISSNs are used to quickly and efficiently identify, order, distribute and retrieve serial publications.

ISSN in General

How do I obtain an ISSN?
  • Complete the ISSN Request form following the instructions
  • Include a mock-up of the title page in PDF or Word format
    Note: ISSN Canada will not accept applications without a mock-up page
  • Submit the form and mock-up page as attachments and send to ISN@ola.org
  • Include the date that the ISSN is needed in the subject line of your email
  • Submit the request only once
How long does it take to obtain an ISSN?

Allow 10 working days for the ISSN to be processed

Why do I need an ISSN?

ISSNs are used to uniquely identify serial publications. Staff of the Legislative Library give Ontario government publishers these numbers to put on their publications on behalf of ISSN Canada (external site).

Do I need an ISBN or an ISSN?

If you are publishing a document only one time, you require an ISBN. If you plan to publish your document on a continuing basis, such as an annual report, you require an ISSN.

Sometimes there is an X at the end of the ISSN. Is that correct?

Yes. The Roman numeral X is used instead of the number 10. For more information on the structure and meaning of the ISSN see the ISSN International Centre (external site).

With the ISSN assigned, is the document copyright protected?

No. There is no connection between the ISSN and the copyright.

We are producing a small number of copies of our document. Do we still need to obtain an ISSN?

Yes. The number of copies produced is not relevant to the ISSN assignment

How do I know whether my ISSN is still valid?

You may search your serial title in our Library Catalogue or send a request for ISSN verification to us at ISN@ola.org.

Publications that Require an ISSN

What types of publications are assigned an ISSN?

Publications that are intended to be continued indefinitely on either a regular or irregular basis require an ISSN.

Examples include:

  • Annual reports
  • Quarterly reports
  • Biennial reports
  • Bulletins
  • Newsletters
  • Journals
  • Proceedings
Do maps require ISSNs?

No. Maps are similar to books and are assigned ISBNs.

Do annual reports require an ISSN and an ISBN?

Annual reports are serial publications and require an ISSN. However, a new ISBN may be assigned each year to identify the specific year of the report.

My ministry has changed its name. Do I need a new ISSN for my serial publication?

For generic titles, such as Annual report, the name of the ministry is also considered part of the title and a new ISSN is required.

Do I use the same ISSN I have used in the past even though the document has not been published for the last several years?

Yes. The ISSN identifies the title of the serial publication. As long as the title remains the same you can use the same ISSN.

For monthly publications, do I need a new ISSN each month?

No. You change the ISSN only if you are changing the title of the publication.

Are different Internet formats, such as HTML and PDF, assigned separate ISSNs?

No. One ISSN is assigned to all Internet formats and qualified with ‘Online’. However, other types of electronic formats, such as DVDs and CD-ROMs, are assigned their own ISSN.

Does a publication issued in different languages require an ISSN for each language edition?

Yes. For example, a publication issued in separate English and French editions requires two ISSNs.

Does a loose-leaf publication require an ISSN?

It depends. If the loose-leaf publication will be updated, it is assigned an ISSN. If the publication will not be updated, it is assigned an ISBN.

We changed the title of our publication from Annual Accessibility Plan to Accessibility Plan. Do we require a new ISSN?

Yes. The ISSN is associated with the title so if it changes, a new ISSN is required. ISSN Canada recommends not changing the title from year to year because it is important for serials to have stable and consistent titles.

Each year I include a different sub-title, such as ‘Moving forward’, on my annual report. Is this considered a title change and do I need a new ISSN?

No. If you continue to use ‘Annual report’ as the main title and only add a new sub-title each year, you do not need a new ISSN.

I am publishing my report in both a bound and binder version. Do they both require an ISSN?

No. Separate ISSNs are not assigned to bound and binder versions of a publication.

Using the ISSN in Your Publication

Where should the ISSN appear on a publication?

Printed serials

Print the ISSN in a prominent place, such as at the top right-hand corner of the front cover, near the title. Put the ISSN on every issue of the serial publication.

Bilingual publications (French and English bound together)

Put the same ISSN on both the English and French title pages.

Annual reports assigned an ISSN and ISBN

Put both numbers on the title page:

Example:

ISSN 1913-6164
ISBN 978-1-4249-6422-2 (2007 ed.)

Publications issued in more than one format

Put all assigned ISSNs on each format and qualify the ISSN to indicate the format:

Example:

ISSN 0828-3877 (Print)
ISSN 1496-8452 (Online)

PDF and HTML formats

Put the ISSN for PDF and HTML formats on the first page or screen of the item.

CD-ROMs and DVDs:

Put the ISSN on the disk label and the container and also on the initial screen when the content is first accessed.

What if Our Serial Publication Plans Change?

I obtained an ISSN for a serial publication, but in the meanwhile the title changed. Can I still use the same ISSN?

Yes. You should inform us at ISN@ola.org of the title change so that we can update our records.

How do I cancel an ISSN?

If you are not going to publish, notify us at ISN@ola.org.