May 29, 2022

The Use of Index Labels When Conducting a WorldCat Search

Alice Sneary has posted a useful item–new info for some people and a good reminder for others–on the WorldCat Blog for info pros, advanced searchers, or those who want to be a power searcher.

The post is about a number pieces of search syntax (specifically called index labels) that are available when you want to do some power/expert searching with WorldCat.  You can enter the two letter codes plus the search terms into any search box and you’ll off and running.

Only some of these labels are accessible using pull-down menus on the advanced search page BUT using the codes where and when needed can save time and a lot of effort once you learn a few of the basic labels (i.e. ti=title).

Conducting an expert search and using these labels places a lot of control in the searchers hands.

Here are a few WorldCat labels that Alice included in the blog post:

kw: keyword
au: author
bc: BC year
de: descriptor
dd: Dewey Decimal Classification number
ge: genre, like a novel
isbn: the ten-digit number for a book
issn: the eight-digit number for a magazine or journal
mt: material type, like a DVD
pb: publisher, like Ballantine
ti: title
yr: year of publication

These labels are only a few of the ones available. This page lists them all with examples of how they’re used.

Even more labels listed here along with a page with search WorldCat documentation (operators, truncation, wildcards, etc.).

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.