Help:How to work with series

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This page is a help or manual page for the ISFDB database. It describes standards or methods for entering or maintaining data in the ISFDB database, or otherwise working with the database. Other help pages may be found via the category below. To discuss what should go on this page, use the talk page.

If, after exploring the Help system, you still have a question, please visit the Help desk and let us know. We probably know the answer, but we need your help to know what we left out of the help pages.

If you are new to editing the ISFDB, please see Help:Getting Started.

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Regular or Title series

Titles in the ISFDB can be organized into series. Some series, such as Harry Harrison's Eden trilogy, for example, are composed only of novels; others, such as Le Guin's Hainish series, include both novels and short fiction.

These series are linked by common characters, story lines or settings. Every publication of a given title will have the same series information.


There are three steps to working with a series. First, you must identify the title records that should be included in the series; second, you can (optionally) specify the order of those titles within the series. Finally, you can organize series into hierarchies; this enables you to specify a subseries of a given series, for example.

To specify that a specific title is in a given series, you need to display the title record and click on the "Edit Title Data" link. There is a help page for title editing. The two fields that concern series are "Series" and "SeriesNum". Entering a series name in the "Series" field will add this title to the series you name. If the series doesn't exist, this will create it. Entering a number in the "SeriesNum" field specifies where that title is in the series' internal ordering.

When you display a series record, such as the Hainish series, you will see an "Edit Series" link in the navbar. Clicking on this allows you to edit the "parent series" of this series; this allows you to create a hierarchy of linked series. See the Star Trek series for an example of a large series with multiple sub-series. See Help:Screen:EditSeries for more detail.


Note that one thing that is not supported is having the same title belong to more than one series. This can be a problem in certain cases when a book clearly belongs to two or more series, but at this point there is no workaround.

Duplicate names

It sometimes happens that two completely different series are assigned the same name. Then they will appear as a single series, possibly including works by different authors. The solution is to choose a different name for one of the series. This may be done by choosing a valid alternate name, or by adding a parenthetical qualifier to one or both names. Then the title records of the works must be edited to change the series name field to the newly chosen name.

A note in each series record indicating the other series and cautioning future editors not to confuse them would be a good idea, and possibly a note in some or all of the title records as well. A note on a Series: or Author: wiki page may also be a good idea.

In general, the older or better known series should have its name unchanged, while the other series involved should have its name altered. But a case-by-case decision must be made. If in doubt, discuss the matter on the ISFDB:Community Portal or another public forum.

Publication Series

A publication series is a set of similarly packaged books designated by the publisher (or publishers), often related only in theme or marketing. They may share an editor, or a presentor, or merely be grouped by the publisher. For example the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series or the Millennium / Gollancz SF Masterworks series are publication series.

Different editions or publications of the same title may not all belong to a given publication series, indeed it is possible for different publications of the same title to belong to two or more different publication series.


When editing or creating a publication, the "Pub. Series" field allows you to specify the name of the publication series. The "Pub. Series #" field allows you to specify the numerical position of the publication in the series, if the series is numbered and the position of the publication is reliably known.

Note that the name must exactly match the existing publication series for the publications to be listed together -- the software links them by series name. (This is not an issue when making the first entry in a publication series). it is often a good practice to find an existing publication in the desired publication series, or to do a search on the publication series itself, and copy the exact name currently in use.

When you display a publication series record, such as the SF_Masterworks series, you will see a list of works in the series, and the series name. You may also see a series note, a link to a wikipedia page, and/or a link to a series web page or pages.

If you click "Edit This Publication Series" you can change the name, note contents, and links, but not the list of titles included in the series. See Help:Screen:PublicationSeries for more information


A given publication may not belong to more than one publication series. Publication series do not support hierarchies or sub-series.