Definition of a Common File Format for Bibliographic Records to be included in the ADS Abstract Service

Last updated: 1 August 2001

We welcome the submission of Bibliographic Records from librarians and researchers willing to provide this information to the ADS. To facilitate the insertion of this data into our databases, we request that the records be submitted in electronic form and adhere to the following format:

%R Bibliographic Code     (required)
%A Author List            (required)
%F Author Affiliation
%J Journal Name
%D Publication Date
%L Last Page of Article
%T Title                  (required)
%C Abstract Copyright
%O Object Name
%E Electronic Data Table
%U URL for Electronic Document
%K Keywords
%W Database  (if submitting for more than one)
%B Abstract Text
%Z References

A long entry should continue on the next line(s) with no repetition of the percent sign and keying letter. All entries should be in ascii and there should be no tabs or control characters. Blank lines can delimit paragraphs in the abstract, but should not otherwise be present within a record. The bibliographic code is the only field which is required for all records, but author list, journal name, publication date, and title are strongly recommended as well. Additional records should be separated by a blank line. Some example records are linked here.

Detailed descriptions of each field follow:

Bibliographic Code:
The bibliographic code is a 19 digit code which describes the journal article. The format was decided on by the SIMBAD project at CDS, and contains the following:
where YYYY is the year, JJJJJ is the abbreviation for the journal (e.g. ApJ, AJ, MNRAS, Sci, PASP, etc.), VVVV is the volume number, M is used when needed to indicate "special" issues (such as "L" for Letters, "P" for pink pages), PPPP is the page number, and A is the first letter of the first author's surname. The fields are padded with periods (.) so that the code is always 19 characters long. The journal is left-justified within its 5 characters, and the volume and page are right-justified. New journal abbreviations should be unique, and follow existing naming conventions. A list of journal abbreviations already in use is at

PhD Theses should be named YYYYPhDT..........A where YYYY is the year and A is the author initial. When the abstract is merged into the system, a counter will be added, if necessary, in the PPPP field to determine uniqueness.

This list should be checked for the abbreviations of journals or conference proceedings or symposia. If you need to compose your own abbreviation, please try to use the first letter of each important word for JJJJJ, capitalizing the letter for a journal. For a conference proceeding or symposia, we use "conf" for conference abstracts or "proc" or for proceedings abstracts in place of VVVV. Bibliographic codes will be verified before they are entered into the system.

Once a bibcode has been built, there is a verification utility available that allows the user to determine whether a given bibcode exists in the ADS.

Author List:
The author list should contain semi-colon separated authors listed with last name first, followed by first name or initials. A paper with one author would be listed as Minkowski, R. A paper with multiple authors would be listed as
Neubauer, F. J.; Burwell, C. G.; Miller, W. C.
Authors whose names contain "Jr" or "III" should be entered as "Roberts, L. C., Jr."

Author Affiliation:
The institution with which the author is affiliated. If more than one author affiliation is to be listed, here is the suggested format:
AA(first author's institution) AB(second author's institution) ...

Email addresses can be specified in the author affiliations. Please mark them as follows:

<EMAIL>email address</EMAIL>

Journal Name:
This entry contains the reference information, including the journal name, volume, and page range. Also include here any editors of books or conference proceedings.

Publication Date:
This contains the publication month and year of the article in the format MM/YYYY (i.e. 02/1995). If no publication month is known, please use a month of 00.

Last Page of Article:
This contains the last page number of the article.

This contains the title of the article.

Object Name:
This contains the name of Objects described in the paper. These are normally handled through SIMBAD and are therefore not part of the user input except in special circumstances.

Abstract Copyright:
This contains a copyright statement of the abstract, such as (c) 1990: American Astromomical Society

URL for Electronic Document:
This field provides a place to put the URL which links to an electronic version of an associated document, where one exists.

Electronic Data Table:
This field provides a place to point to an electronic version of associated data tables, where they exist.

This contains keywords related to the article, separated by a comma.

This contains the database key if you are submitting abstracts for multiple databases (AST, INST, PHY).

This contains the abstract text. Any line beginning with at least one blank space will be assumed to be a new paragraph. New paragraphs may also be delimited with blank lines. Abstracts should not contain tables, and will appear best in the system if they contain only ascii characters.

This field should contain the list of references cited by the current paper. They should be formatted so that there is just one reference per line, e.g.:
%Z Bechtold,~J., \etal 1994, \aj, 108, 374
   Massa, D. L., & Savage, B. D. 1984, ApJ, 279, 310
   Savage, B. D., & Mathis, J. S. 1979, ARA&A, 17, 73
Please note that references containing TeX/LaTeX formatting and AASTeX macros are acceptable.

We reserve the right to reject any submission whose content we deem inappropriate for our databases.

If you have any questions about this document, please contact us at