This article focuses on the use of four particular data elements – the edition number, the edition version, the edition statement, and edition type codes – with a particular focus on the way in which you are expected to specify them in accordance with ONIX-related best practices.

Edition Statements

The Edition Statement on a product is a short statement that describes the nature of the edition. It might read Second edition, or Illustrated edition, or Fourth Edition (Revised).

The ONIX documentation has this to say about the EditionStatement element:

  A short free-text description of a version or edition. Optional, and repeatable if parallel text is provided in multiple languages. The language attribute is optional for a single instance of <editionstatement>, but must be included in each instance if <editionstatement> is repeated. When used, an <editionstatement> must be complete in itself, ie it should not be treated as merely supplementary to an <editiontype> or an <editionnumber>, nor as a replacement for them. Appropriate edition type and number must also be sent, for indexing and retrieval. An <editionstatement> should be strictly limited to describing features of the content of the edition, and should not include aspects such as rights or market restrictions which are properly covered elsewhere in the ONIX record.
    Variable-length text, suggested maximum length 200 characters. XHTML is enabled in this element.

Further guidance is available from OCLC.

Taking this a clause at a time:

  • A short free-text description of a version or edition

  • ‘Short’ here evidently means up to about 200 characters, but that’s quite a lot of space to play with. Second illustrated edition, to accompany the 2010 re-release of the major motion picture is only 88 characters, for example.

  • ‘Free text’ means you can write just about anything, and in fact you can include some HTML tags in there, so

  Second edition, with additional commentary by translator <em>Johnny Jones</em>

is valid. Some recipients on ONIX will strip that HTML out, and some may not even check so you could end up seeing <em> on someone’s website, so use HTML with caution.

  • Optional, and repeatable if parallel text is provided in multiple languages

  • This highlights one weakness of the Edition Statement – that it is language specific. For this reason many data recipients prefer the use of Edition Numbers and Edition Type Codes as they are language independent, but it is always wise, and sometimes mandated by data recipients, that an Edition Statement also be included.*

  • … must be complete in itself

  • If you specify through the Edition Number and Edition Type Codes that an edition is the second edition with revised content, then the Edition Statement must include all of that information.

  • … nor as a replacement for them. Appropriate edition type and number must also be sent, for indexing and retrieval.

  • An edition statement alone is not sufficient for a non-English speaking international audience that relies on bibliographic metadata systems.

  • Consonance, and other systems, will not infer from two products named Third Edition and Fourth Edition that the latter is a replacement for the former, but if you use Edition Numbers then Consonance will certainly link the products in an ONIX message automatically, and other systems will be capable of doing so.

  • …should be strictly limited to describing features of the content of the edition

  • There are other ways in which the form of the product, its packaging, its distribution and rights are sent through ONIX, and this is NOT the place to state Second hardback edition, for sale in South America only.


  1. Make it complete

  2. … but focussed only on content, nor product form or rights

  3. … and use HTML with caution

  4. … and use Edition Number and Type Codes as well

  5. … and make sure that it is complete

We also recommend that you adopt and document a house style for Edition Statements, so as to establish whether they should be written as:

  • 2nd edition

  • Second edition

  • Second Edition

  • Edition 2

  • Second edition with revised content

  • Second edition (revised)

  • Second Edition, Revised

    Edition Numbers

When you issue a new major version of a work, you typically create a new set of products with a new Edition Number.

The guidance that we have received from EDItEUR is that an edition should not be marked as the first until the second is created. The trade would generally infer from the existence of Edition 1 that Edition 2 either exists or is forthcoming.

The ONIX documentation states:

  The number of a numbered edition. Optional and non-repeating. Normally sent only for the second and subsequent editions of a work, but by agreement between parties to an ONIX exchange a first edition may be explicitly numbered.

This implies that the first edition may be left unnumbered, but we’d discourage this because the creation of new, unnumbered products could then be ambiguous.

When you create a new product with a new edition number, Consonance will automatically associate the new product with the previous one when ONIX messages are generated.

The two products each gain a related product, with an appropriate code to state that this product has been replaced by this related product, or this product replaces this related product, as appropriate.

The related products are identified by ISBN, so consumers of the ONIX metadata know that people searching for an out of print product can be referred to the new version.

Edition Version

The version is described by the ONIX documentation as:

  The number of a numbered revision within an edition number. To be used only where a publisher uses such two-level numbering to indicate revisions which do not constitute a new edition under a new ISBN or other distinctive product identifier. Optional and non-repeating. If this field is used, an <editionnumber> must also be present.

It is used for minor revisions of an edition, but in our experience is not widely used. Consonance does not provide explicit support for different impressions of a product, and it is difficult to ensure that metadata relates to the correct impressions without the issuance of a new ISBN, or timing of the release of new metadata in coordination with the switch to new stock.

Possibly a good use for the version is to indicate minor updates to eBook content, with typographic corrections, for example.

Adding a version number implies the need to also add a Revised edition type code.

Consider whether the possible use of version numbers implies that your house style should accommodate them: Second edition, version 2, or Edition 2.2?

Edition Type Codes

The ONIX documentation concisely states:

  An <abbr title='ONline Information eXchange, an XML international standard specific to the book trade, first launched in 2000, for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form'>ONIX</abbr> code, indicating the type of a version or edition. Optional, and repeatable if the product has characteristics of two or more types (e.g. 'revised' and 'annotated').",
EDItEUR provide fairly detailed descriptions of the meanings of the codes, and these descriptions are available by clicking on “Type codes” in the system. Although the meanings are often clear from the code value (e.g. “Annotated”), it is worth reviewing the complete list and the code descriptions in order to be familiar with all the options available being familiar with the detailed notes, and any caveats or suggestions associated with their use: e.g. “Media Tie-in: An edition published to coincide with the release of a film, TV program, or electronic game based on the same work. Use to describe the exact nature of the tie-in.” For example, it is possible to specify “Digital original” as an edition type code, and the need to specify this code may be a useful part of a publisher’s documented workflow. At time of writing, there are thirty-five edition type codes available in ONIX, some of which are mutually exclusive (e.g. “Expurgated” vs. “Unexpurgated”, or “Teacher edition” and “Student edition”), and any combination of which are available in Consonance. We do not currently place restrictions on the combinations of codes, or the ones that are available on a particular product, so please be take care that you specify only appropriate codes. Note that some conventional edition statements, “Library edition”, “Book club edition”, have no equivalent type code, as they refer to variations in the form of the product (its binding, size or paperstock), not the content. ### Summary 1. Be aware of the scope of all the codes available 2. Be familiar with the definitions supplied by EDItEUR
  1. Remember that including a type code implies the need to also include that information in the Edition Statement

Special edition type code functions

There are some special Consonance features associated with particular codes.

New editions

If you specify NEW as an edition type code (and EDItEUR‘s notes imply that it should be regarded as a type code of last resort, preferring codes which describe the change from previous editions instead such as Revised), then Consonance will allow a period of validity post-publishing to be defined, so that the edition is not still New twenty years after publication.

Special editions

If you specify that the edition is Special, then you can identify the product that this is Special in relation to. This causes the relationship between the products to be expressed elsewhere in the ONIX message in the form of Product B is the special edition of Product A.

Combined editions

If you specify that a product is Combined, then you can also indicate that this is a derived work, under the Work derivations section of the metadata page.

Digital original editions

If a product meets particular conditions then it is automatically tagged in ONIX, and on the product search page, as a DGO: Digital original.

These conditions are derived from EDItEUR’s recommendations on identifying a product as a Digital Original, and are that the potential Digital Original:

  • Must be an eBook (identified through having a product form of 'DG’, in Consonance).
  • Must not be accompanied on the same work by another product that is:
  • Not also an eBook (so having multiple formats of eBook is not a problem).
  • Of the same edition number
  • Published earlier than 30 days after the digital original.

The automatic identification of Digital Originals is enabled by default on all client accounts, but can be disabled on request.


What may in the past have seemed to be a simple matter of adding a few words to describe an edition turns out to be fraught with caveats and apparent complexity.

The caveats and complexities are in place for pretty good reasons, and respecting them will improve the quality of your metadata by making it more internationally acceptable, and more compatible with supply chain bibliographic systems.