Physical Description

Existing Physical Description

Transcribe the physical characteristics of the resource.  This may include dimensions, extent, pagination, and other related physical details about the resource.  The standard when inputting a physical description is to abbreviate as much as possible the terms used to describe the physical description of a resource with the exception of the specific material designation (Ex. sound disc).  For miscellaneous abbreviations for bibliographic records click here

No Physical Description

If there is no way to describe the physical characteristics of a physical or digital object, leave physical description blank.

Formatting Physical Description

There are four parts to the physical description statement: extent, physical details, dimensions, and accompanying materials.  Not all parts are required.  For example if the item at hand does not have any relevant physical details or accompanying materials you leave those out of the physical description statement.  The extent and dimensions on the other hand would be preferred to have on every record for an item, but if there is not extent or dimensions information either, you will not input a physical description statement.  The definition of each of these parts is


  • Extent – Gives the number and the specific material designation (type) of the units of the item being described.
  • Physical Details – Further characteristics that are important (ex. illustrative matter) besides the extent and dimensions.
  • Dimensions – Measurement in length, width, or thickness.
  • Accompanying Material – Material issued with, and intended to be used with, the item being described.

Below are links to specific material types and each have particular ways of describing the physical characteristics for each specific material type.

Other Physical Description

If there was other information about the physical description of the resource that was not able to fit in this field make a note of it.