Alumnae Library
Debra Gomes
Associate Director & Head of Library Technology


Glossary Serial Terms

The following are terms used to describe serials in library settings:


SERIALAn all inclusive term for a publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals; newspapers; annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); the journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc., of societies; and numbered monographic series.


Periodical:A serial appearing or intended to appear indefinitely at regular or stated intervals, generally more frequently then annually, each issue of which is numbered or dated consecutively and normally contains separate articles, stories, or other writing. Newspapers disseminating general news, and the proceedings, papers, or other publications of corporate bodies primarily related to their meetings, are not included in this term.
Journal:A periodical, especially one containing scholarly articles and/or disseminating current information on research and development particular subject field.
Professional Society Journal:An official or other publication (periodical) issued by, or under the auspices of, a society, association, or institution.
 Examples of a Professional Society Journal:
American Libraries
JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
Refereed/Juried Journal:A periodical or other serial in which the manuscripts are evaluated by at least one subject specialist in addition to the editor before being accepted for publication.
 Examples of a Refereed Journal:
Advances in Nursing Science
Chaucer Review
Critical Inquiry
German Quarterly
Journal of Morphology
Social Work
Trade Journal or Publication:A periodical devoted to the interests of a trade or industry and its allied fields. Usually not refereed.
 Examples of a Trade Journal:
Management Accounting
New England Economic Review
Publishers Weekly


Magazine:A periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.
Popular Magazine:A periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.
 Examples of a Popular Magazine:
Art in America
National Geographic
New Yorker
Nursing Times
Scientific American
Consumer/General Interest Magazines:A periodical that reflects social trends, issues, and interests.
 Examples of a Consumer Magazine:
Aramco World Magazine
Consumer Reports
PC World


Index:A list of topics, names, etc. treated in a book or a group of books, with references to pages where they occur.
 Examples of an Index:
Catholic Periodical and Literature Index
Essay and General Literature Index
Psychological Abstracts
Social Work Abstracts
Electronic Index:Provides subject, author, and/or title indexing to a particular set of periodicals and gives a full citation for each article. The citation includes the title of the periodical, date, volume, pages, as well as the author and title of the article. Citations are provided in an electronic format.
 Examples of an Electronic Index:
Academic Search Eilte
CINAH with full-text
Social Services Abstracts

Electronic Serials

Electronic Serial:A work issued in designated parts for an indefinite period of time, which must comprise successive parts bearing numberic or chronological designations, in a computer file format and accessed "via input/output devices connected electronically to a computer" (AACR2); The most frequently encountered types of remote access serials are electronic journals, newsletters, or newspapers available on the Internet. Electronic serials range from those that parallel print publications to serials that lack traditional issues.
Electronic Journal:A publication, often scholarly, that is made accessible in a computerized format and distributed over the Internet. An electronic journal or e-journal may have a traditional paper counterpart or historical antecedent.
 Examples of an Electronic Journal:
The Economist
Nursing Outlook
PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Zine or E-zine:Another category of online serials,consisting of popular, unconventional, or informal "electronic magazines" that often cover popular culture, politics, etc.
 Examples of an E-zine:
L.A. Woman Magazine - Lyme Juice
W.W.II Today - WWWtips
z Times - ZYN!-Magazine


Information for this section was gathered from the following sources:

  1. The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science. Young Heartsill, Ed. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 1983.
  2. Cataloging Manual Module 31 Remote Access Computer File Serials CONSER (Cooperative Program for Serials Cataloging) Library of Congress 
  3. Glossary of Library Terms Cornell University Library