UNIMARC formats and related documentation

UNIMARC Strategic Programme is responsible for the preparation and dissemination of IFLA publications and other documentation regarding UNIMARC

UNIMARC Bibliographic

The UNIMARC Bibliographic format was first created and proposed by IFLA in 1977, with the title UNIMARC: Universal MARC format. A second version was published in 1980 followed, in 1983, by the UNIMARC Handbook. Finally, in 1987, the UNIMARC Manual was published. The second edition, entitled UNIMARC Manual: bibliographic format was published in 1994 in a loose-leaf binder to facilitate updates. Five updates were issued in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2005. The third and current edition was published in 2008, in book format.

UNIMARC manual: bibliographic format

IFLA UNIMARC Core Activity; ed. By Alan Hopkinson.  3rd ed. - München: Saur, 2008. – (IFLA Series in Bibliographic Control, 36)

Also available online:

Special Update:

UNIMARC Authorities

The UNIMARC Authorities Format was designed to allow the creation of authority and reference records for the management of controlled access points in a bibliographic database. It was first published in 1991 under the title UNIMARC/ Authorities: Universal Format for Authorities and updated in the second edition, UNIMARC Manual: Authorities Format, published in 2001. The current is the third edition, released in 2009. 

UNIMARC manual: authorities format

IFLA UNIMARC Core Activity; ed. by Mirna Willer. 3rd ed. - München: Saur, 2009. – (IFLA Series on Bibliographic Control, 38)

Also available online:

UNIMARC Holdings

In late 1999, PUC appointed a working group to develop a UNIMARC specification for holdings information pertaining to a bibliographic item. The work was carried out during the period of 2000-2003 and a final draft was posted for world wide review in 2003. The present version is the result of received comments, accepted at the PUC meeting of 2004, with some changes introduced at the PUC meetings that took place in 2005 and 2006. It was first published in December 2006, and was subject to corrections in 2007.

UNIMARC Classification

The UNIMARC Classification Format is still in progress and is aimed at the management and authority control of classification data. It was prepared by a working group appointed by the Permanent UNIMARC Committee, in 1997, as a follow-up of a document produced by another IFLA group, about the Requirements for a Classification Format, in 1996. The present version was posted for world wide review in 2000.

The draft concise version of the UNIMARC Classification Format is available online:

UNIMARC Guidelines

Since 1999 the PUC has developed a series of guidelines for the application of UNIMARC with particular bibliographic materials or cataloguing policies.

Seven guidelines were already published and are available online:

  • Guidelines no 7.
    Music (July 2005)

Other UNIMARC Related Resources



  • User controlled Generic MARC converter
    A generic toolkit for ISO2709 compatible MARC formats to enable libraries to create rules based systems to convert records between national MARC formats through UNIMARC. It was completed in 1997, funded by the EU's Telematics Applications Programme (DGXIII-E).  The original version of the software was further developed and adapted by Ere Maijala, of the National Library of Finland. Testing at the National Library of Finland and the British Library was followed by the further releases. Current release is V.13.3. Documentation available: Guide to USEMARCON (v.1.12, 2001) and USEMARCON Manual (v.3.10, 2008)
  • Mapping Dublin Core to UNIMARC
    Michael Day. UKOLN, 1997
  • EAD (Encoded Archival Description) Tag Library. Version 2002
    Society of American Archivists, traduit de l'anglais par le groupe AFNOR CG46/CN357/GE3. 2004. [includes correspondence table for data elements between EAD and UNIMARC, p. 249]


Publications, UNIMARC

Last update: 14 February 2016

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