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Glossary of Format Terms

The following terms are used to populate the Item Physical Format field. All of these terms are taken from the Getty Museum's Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) Online.

Documents in which monies or goods received and paid or given out are recorded in order to permit periodic totaling.

View example: Accounts

Public notices or paid announcements, especially those in print.

View example: Advertisements

Aerial photographs
Photographs of the earth taken from aircraft. Do not use for photographs of celestial bodies or astronomical phenomena.

View example: Aerial photographs

Sworn statements in writing; especially made upon oath before an authorized magistrate or officer.

View example: Affidavits

Albumen prints
Photographic prints having albumen as the binder; always black-and-white, though they may be toned to a monochrome hue.

View example: Albumen prints

Publications, usually annuals, containing a variety of useful facts of miscellaneous nature or statistical information. Originally included projections of coming days, months and holidays.

View example: Almanacs

Printed, spoken or published statements or notices that inform the reader of an event or other news.

View example: Announcements

Architectural drawings (visual works)
Drawings of architecture and architectural projects, whether the project was executed or not. The term may also refer to any image in a two-dimensional medium that serves this same purpose, including prints and computer images. NOTE: Blueprints and blue-line drawings should be entered as Architectural drawings.

View example: Architectural drawings (visual works)

Literary compositions prepared for publication as an independent portion of a magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia, or other work.

View example: Articles

Articles of incorporation
Written agreements embodying the purposes or other conditions of the association of a number of persons for the pursuit of a joint enterprise; especially those duly executed and filed with a state's administrative authorities so as to have the force of a charter under general incorporation law.

View example: Articles of incorporation

Volumes of maps, with or without descriptive text, which may be issued to supplement or accompany texts or be published independently.

View example: Atlases

Attendance Records
Records maintained by an organization regarding the action or fact of individuals being present to take part in social transactions, entertainment, instruction, worship, or in answer to a summons.

View example: Attendance Records

Objects bearing special or distinctive marks and worn for decoration or to signify affiliation. The term refers to any distinctive device, emblem, or mark worn to indicate a person's affiliation, rank, office, name, or membership in an organization or support for a cause, particularly objects that comprise small pieces of metal, card, plastic, etc., that bear a distinguishing design or words.

View example: Badges

Bills (legislative records)
Drafts of proposed laws introduced in a legislative body.

View example: Bills (legislative records)

Black-and-white photographs
Refers to a broad class of photographs having images in gray tones, black, and white, and sometimes one hue (which can result from chemical processes used, including toning, or from aging).

View example: Black-and-white photographs

Small books consisting of a few sheets that are glued, stitched, or stapled together between thin card or paper covers.

View example: Booklets

Items comprising a collection of leaves of paper, parchment, wood, stiffened textile, ivory, metal tablets, or other flat material, that are blank, written on, or printed, and are strung or bound together in a volume.

View example: Books

Boxes (containers)
Rigid, often rectangular containers usually with a lid or cover in which something non-liquid is kept or carried.

View example: Boxes (containers)

Broadsides (notices)
Sizeable single-sheet notices or advertisements printed on one or both sides, often chiefly textual rather than pictorial, and printed to be read unfolded.

View example: Broadsides (notices)

Printed or graphic material intended for promotional or publicity purposes, such as small printed works describing the features or amenities of a place, an organization, or other concern.

View example: Brochures

Statements of revenue and expenditure, financial proposals or schemes for a public body or the domestic accounts of a family or individual.

View example: Budgets

Building Permits
Permits required by local governmental bodies for new building, or for major alteration or expansion of existing structures. Applications, building plans, estimated costs, and a fee are usually required before a permit is issued.

View example: Building Permits

A serial publication issued by an organization or society, especially a short account, alert, or report of public news or events issued by authority.

View example: Bulletins

Business cards
Small cards bearing the name and address of a business concern and one of its representatives, and intended more for information than advertisement. Note: not to be confused with "trade cards" and "advertising cards."

View example: Business cards

Cabinet photographs
Mounted on cards and a larger alternative to the Cartes-de-visite. The larger size (approximately 6 ½ x 4 ¼ inches) was considered more appropriate for display, allowed for group portraits, and permitted the image to be retouched. Popular until World War I.

View example: Cabinet photographs

Registers of days or other contrivances for reckoning days, months, years, etc., such as a table showing the division of a given year into its months, weeks, days, years, or other divisions of time. A calendar may include important astronomical data, ecclesiastical or other festivals, and other events belonging to specific days.

View example: Calendars

Cylindrical or rectangular containers usually of lightweight metal, plastic, or laminated pasteboard used for holding dry products.

View example: Canisters

Car cards
Posters intended to be placed in subway cars, street cars and buses.

View example: Car cards

Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
Refers to small-format photographs affixed to card stock. They were typically portraits and the image was a standard size of 3 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches. They went out of fashion in the 1870s.

View example: Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)

Enumerations of items, such as a file of bibliographic records or a list of art objects, usually arranged systematically and with descriptive details; may be in book or pamphlet form, or on cards.

View example: Catalogs

Documents giving authoritative recognition of a fact, qualification, or promise.

View example: Certificates

Lists in which items can be compared, scheduled, verified, or identified.

View example: Checklists

Checks (bank checks)
Written orders drawn on a bank to pay, on demand, a specified sum of money to a named person.

View example: Checks (bank checks)

City directories
Enumerations of names, addresses, and other data about specific groups of persons or organizations; may appear in alphabetic or graphic format.

View example: City directories

Collodion prints
Photographic prints having collodion as the binder.

View example: Collodion prints

Color photographs
The broad class of photographs having images composed of more than one hue, plus the neutral tones. For photographs having a range of tones within one hue, see Black-and-white photographs.

View example: Color photographs

Color transparencies
Photographic images designed for viewing by transmitted light, composed of more than one hue, plus the neutral tones.

View example: Color transparencies

Contact prints
Photographic prints made by interfacing a negative and a sheet of photographic paper and exposing the paper with raw light.

View example: Contact prints

Contour maps
Maps showing elevation and the configuration of the ground by the use of contour lines and usually lacking other detail.

View example: Contour maps

Documents, enforceable by law, embodying agreements between two or more competent parties to do or not to do something, and specifying the terms and conditions of the agreement.

View example: Contracts

Cyanotypes (photographic prints)
Blue-toned photographic prints produced by the blueprint process. These do NOT include reproductive prints of architectural or other technical drawings; for these, use Architectural drawings.

View example: Cyanotypes (photographic prints)

Documents, usually executed under seal, containing a conveyance, especially of real estate.

View example: Deeds

Design drawings
Drawings intended to work out the scheme of a project, whether the project is expected to be executed or not; more finished than sketches.

View example: Design drawings

Refers to books containing the daily, personal accounts of the writer's own experiences, attitudes, and observations. Use Journals (accounts) when referring to an individual's or an organization's account of occurrences or transactions.

View example: Diaries

Formal documents conferring some honor, degree, or privilege, especially those bearing record of graduation from or a degree conferred by an educational institution.

View example: Diplomas

Enumerations of names, addresses, and other data about specific groups of persons or organizations; may appear in alphabetic or graphic format.

View example: Directories

Documents (other)
NOTE: This is a general Item Physical Format term for Text based items. This term should ONLY be used when an item cannot be assigned a more specific term. Please review the list of Item Physical Format terms under Text before assigning this value. Contact the Metadata Coordinator for assistance if you have any questions about the use of this term.

View example: Documents (other)

Drawings (visual works)
Visual works produced by drawing, which is the application of lines on a surface, often paper, by using a pencil, pen, chalk, or some other tracing instrument to focus on the delineation of form rather than the application of color.

View example: Drawings (visual works)

Engineering maps
Maps, usually maintained in the public works or engineering departments of a city, showing information such as street and rail rights of way, location of bridges, and grade separations; used for planning and executing engineering work in a locality.

View example: Engineering maps

Examinations (documents)
Written questions or exercises testing knowledge, aptitude, or skills.

View example: Examinations (documents)

Exhibition Catalogs
Publications that document the works displayed in an exhibition.

View example: Exhibition Catalogs

Forestry maps
Maps of a given region, intended to chart the areas covered by forests and other vegetation. They typically record the boundaries of the forest, the relief of the area, assessments of timber volume and expected growth rates, and features or projections related to concerns such as animal or human inhabitants and ecological matters.

View example: Forestry maps

Gelatin silver prints
Refers to photographic prints having gelatin as the binder, holding silver as the final image material; always black-and-white, though they may be toned to a monochrome hue.

View example: Gelatin silver prints

Greeting cards
Cards often imprinted with messages and suitable illustrations, sent or given on special occasions or holidays.

View example: Greeting cards

Home Movies
Motion pictures on film or videotape made by amateurs, or professionals in a nonprofessional capacity, intended for home viewing by family and friends. People, scenes and events filmed generally feature the filmmakers' immediate circle and personal activities.

View example: Home Movies

Books containing collections of church hymns.

View example: Hymnals

Instructional materials
Print or non-print materials used for the purpose of imparting knowledge, attitudes, or skills to others.

View example: Instructional materials

Insurance policies
Documents by which one party (the insurer) in consideration of a premium, engages to indemnify another (the insured) against a contingent loss, by making a payment in compensation.

View example: Insurance policies

Engraved, printed, or written expressions requesting a person's company at a certain event at a given time and place.

View example: Invitations

Documents showing items supplied, together with the prices charged for each; also, itemized bills or accounts.

View example: Invoices

Journals (accounts)
Books containing accounts of an individual's or organization's occurrences or transactions, including records of financial transactions. Use Diaries when referring to personal accounts of the writer's experiences, attitudes, or observations.

View example: Journals (accounts)

Labels (identifying artifacts)
Pieces of paper inscribed and affixed to something for identification or description.

View example: Labels (identifying artifacts)

Lantern slides
Transparent positive image made or mounted on glass, usually (but not necessarily) photographic. Measurements: 3.25 to 3.5 inches by 4 inches. Lantern slides are projected onto a screen by means of a specialized projector.

View example: Lantern slides

Leaflets (printed works)
Small printed works consisting of one small-sized leaf of paper folded and not stitched or bound, containing printed matter, chiefly for gratuitous distribution.

View example: Leaflets (printed works)

Ledgers (account books)
Volumes of final entry in accounting in which are entered debits, credits, and all other money transactions under each individual account or heading.

View example: Ledgers (account books)

Letters (correspondence)
Pieces of correspondence that are somewhat more formal than memoranda or notes, usually on paper and delivered.

View example: Letters (correspondence)

Documents evidencing a right or permission, granted to an individual or organization in accordance with law by a competent authority, to engage in some transaction, business, or occupation, or to do some act.

View example: Licenses

Magazines (periodicals)
Periodicals containing articles, essays, poems, or other writings by different authors, usually on a variety of topics and intended for a general reading public or treating a particular area of interest for a popular audience.

View example: Magazines (periodicals)

Refers to graphic or photogrammetric representations of the Earth's surface or a part of it, including physical features and political boundaries, where each point corresponds to a geographical or celestial position according to a definite scale or projection. The term may also refer to similar depictions of other planets, suns, other heavenly bodies, or areas of the heavens.

View example: Maps

Medicine bottles
Bottles of varying size, shape, and style made to contain medicine, particularly those intended to be taken home by customers of an apothecary or sold elsewhere; examples include collectible patent medicine bottles.

View example: Medicine bottles

Membership cards
Cards issued to individual members of an organization attesting to the fact of their membership, typically wallet-sized and carrying the name of the member and the name or logo of the organization.

View example: Membership cards

Membership Lists
Lists or rolls of the collective body of members, as of a society, at a given time.

View example: Membership Lists

Narratives or histories autobiographical in nature or stressing the author's personal experience of the events.

View example: Memoirs

Documents recording information used for internal communication.

View example: Memorandums

Lists of dishes to be served or available for meals.

View example: Menus

Minutes (administrative records)
Records of what was said and done at meetings or conferences.

View example: Minutes (administrative records)

Muster rolls
Lists of troops actually present, made on the day of muster or review of troops in order to take account of their condition; used as the paymaster's voucher for the pay she/he issued.

View example: Muster rolls

Negatives (photographic)
Photographs, usually on a transparent support, in which the tones or colors are reversed from their appearance in nature. This includes glass plate negatives.

View example: Negatives (photographic)

Letters, reports, or other brief written communications that communicate news, particularly those written by societies or business organizations. Historically referred to serial publications consisting of one or a few printed sheets containing news and information of interest to the general public or to a special group.

View example: Newsletters

Serials published at stated, frequent intervals, such as daily or weekly, and containing news, editorials, features, advertisements, and other items of current interest.

View example: Newspapers

Brief statements of a fact or experience, written down for review, or as an aid to memory, or to inform someone else; also includes short, informal letters.

View example: Notes

Any forms of attestation, written or verbal, by which persons signify that they are bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully.

View example: Oaths

Oral histories
Works that record interviews conducted to preserve the recollections of persons whose experience or memories are representative or are of special historical or social significance.

View example: Oral histories

Paintings (visual works)
Unique works in which images are formed primarily by the direct application of pigments suspended in oil, water, egg yolk, molten wax, or other liquid, arranged in masses of color, onto a generally two-dimensional surface.

View example: Paintings (visual works)

Independent publications consisting of a few leaves of printed matter folded or fastened together but not bound, often with no cover or a paper cover. For smaller printed works, of one sheet folded and not stitched or bound, use Leaflets (printed works).

View example: Pamphlets

Refers generally to pictorial representations with very broad horizontal ranges of view. The term is also used specifically for photographs that show a wide view produced by a panoramic camera or by joining photographs together.

View example: Panoramas

Pattern books
Books of designs or plans circulated or published to enable widespread copying. May also be used for unbound collections of drawings or prints which serve as artists' models. NOTE: use this term for individual patterns.

View example: Pattern books

Tapering flags, usually pieces of cloth or other flexible material, usually attached along one side to a pole or cord, intended for such purposes as symbolizing a nation or organization, or as a means of signaling.

View example: Pennants

Publications issued at regular intervals, but not daily, containing articles on various subjects by different authors for the general reader.

View example: Periodicals

Pestles Mortars (grinding tools)
Club-shaped instruments of a hard material with a round end used for crushing, pounding, or grinding herbs, spices, drugs, pigments, or other materials in a mortar, which is a cup-shaped receptacle.

View example: Pestles Mortars (grinding tools)

Includes any written requests and lists of signatures submitted to an authority to appeal for the performance of a specific action.

View example: Petitions

Photograph albums
Albums made up of mounted photographs, with or without identifying information.

View example: Photograph albums

Plats (maps)
Maps, charts, or plans that show the location, boundaries, and ownership of individual properties.

View example: Plats (maps)

Written or oral compositions characterized by condensed language chosen for sound and suggestive power as well as meaning, and by the use of such literary techniques as structured meter, natural cadences, rhyme, or metaphor.

View example: Poems

Postal cards
Cards sold by the post office with postage stamps already printed on them.

View example: Postal cards

Cards on which a message may be written or printed for mailing without an envelope, usually at a lower rate than that for letters in envelopes. One side of the card frequently features a photographic image, advertisement, or graphic illustration.

View example: Postcards

Notices, usually decorative or pictorial, intended to be posted to advertise, promote, or publicize an activity, cause, product, or service; also, decorative, mass-produced prints intended for hanging.

View example: Posters

Prints (visual works)
Pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes. Common types of prints include engravings, etchings, and lithographs.

View example: Prints (visual works)

Records of meetings of a conference, society or other organization, usually published, and frequently accompanied by abstracts or reports of papers presented.

View example: Proceedings

Brief outlines or explanations of the order to be pursued, criteria for participation, or the subjects embraced in a given event or endeavor. Includes lists of the features composing a dramatic or other performance, with the names of participants.

View example: Programs

Radio Scripts
Scripts used for radio programs.

View example: Radio Scripts

Receipts (financial records)
Written acknowledgment of the receiving or taking of goods or money delivered or paid.

View example: Receipts (financial records)

Registrations (licenses)
Documents attesting to acts of registering.

View example: Registrations (licenses)

Official or formal records of a special investigation, in the form of documents containing presentations of facts, proceedings, investigations, or events.

View example: Reports

Resolutions (administrative records)
Formal expressions of the opinion formed by some superior authority on matters referred to its decisions and forwarded to inferior authorities for their instruction and government.

View example: Resolutions (administrative records)

Individual units, segments, or small quantities taken as evidence of the quality or character of the entire group or lot.

View example: Samples

Schedules (time plans)
Plans of procedure, showing the sequence of items or operations and the time allotted for each.

View example: Schedules (time plans)

Books or albums designed so that a variety of items may be affixed to the pages, including photographs, clippings, and other memorabilia.

View example: Scrapbooks

Sculpture (visual works)
Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object.

View example: Sculpture (visual works)

Sheet music
Music printed on unbound sheets of paper. Compare to Songbooks.

View example: Sheet music

Short subjects
Motion pictures whose length is relatively short in comparison to feature films, this films typically ranging from a few minutes to one hour.

View example: Short subjects

Silent Films
Motion pictures made without a photographic or magnetic sound track carried on the physical medium of the film itself.

View example: Silent Films

Slides (photographs)
Positive transparencies in mounts suitable for projection, usually 35mm film in a mount of 2 by 2 inches. An image on film or glass, usually positive, intended to be viewed by means of light passing through the image and base using a viewer or projector.

View example: Slides (photographs)

Books containing brief musical compositions written or adapted for singing. Compare to Sheet music.

View example: Songbooks

Documents containing the text of any public address or talk. Also includes sound recording in which someone is orating a public address or talk.

View example: Speeches

Paper for writing letters, often having a letterhead or decorative design, and often accompanied by matching envelopes.

View example: Stationery

Acts of a legislature declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something, expressed according to the forms necessary to constitute law.

View example: Statutes

Refers to the most popular and common form of stereoscopic photographs, which are double photographs of the same image taken from two slightly different perspectives. Stereographs are distinctive among other stereoscopic photographs because they are photographic prints mounted on cards.

View example: Stereographs

Studio portraits
Portraits taken in a professional photographer's studio, often making use of backdrops or props.

View example: Studio portraits

Messages sent by telegraph.

View example: Telegrams

Television programs
Presentations of informational or entertainment shows such as news, sports, drama, comedy, music, documentary, talk or game shows to the public by means of television transmission.

View example: Television programs

Slips of paper or cardboard serving as evidence that the holder has paid a fare or admission or is entitled to some service.

View example: Tickets

Photographs produced by the wet collodion process and then placed directly on thin sheets of lacquered metal, usually iron. NOTE: Tintypes are not to be confused with Daguerreotypes which utilize a copper plate for the image support.

View example: Tintypes

Topographic maps
Refers to maps representing a region at a level of detail or scale between a plan, which is a small area, and a chorographic map, which is a large regional map. Topographic maps include accurate representations of the location and shape of both natural and manmade features. The term refers to maps of various scales in different nations; it is generally limited to maps at scales of 1:500,000 or larger in the U.S. The term is often mistakenly interpreted to mean maps that only represent natural relief features.

View example: Topographic maps

Tourist maps
Maps intended to introduce a region or locality to tourists, who are visitors to an unfamiliar place, particularly those who travel for pleasure or culture, usually to visit a number of places with the goal of experiencing places of interest and scenery.

View example: Tourist maps

Trade cards
Small printed sheets, and later cards, bearing tradesmen's advertisements, often including an engraved, full-color illustration; produced through the 19th century. For cards made later, bearing just the name and address of a business concern and the name of its representative, and intended more for information than for advertising, use "Business cards."

View example: Trade cards

Transportation maps
Maps intended to assist people in the navigation and use of a particular city or region's transit system. Transit systems can include bus, street car, trolley, rail, or road systems. These maps often include route information, timetables, fare information, and local points of interest.

View example: Transportation maps

Trophies (objects)
Objects awarded as prizes for victory in contests; typically include such things as elaborate silver pieces awarded as contest prizes.

View example: Trophies (objects)

Wedding announcements
Generally, announcements of nuptial ceremonies. May be extended to multiple types, including formal printed announcements intended to be mailed, announcements in newspapers, or any historical variant.

View example: Wedding announcements

Legal instruments in which a person declares the disposition of his/her property, to take effect after his/her death, and which is revocable during the lifetime of that person.

View example: Wills

Zoning maps
Maps delineating the boundaries of districts which, along with the zoning text, comprise the zoning ordinances.

View example: Zoning maps