HelpThing was written by members like you, with some help from LibraryThing staff.
View a list of all of the HelpThing topics.
The first rule of HelpThing is "be bold!" If you can add or edit it, go ahead. We also have a HelpThing Style Guide.
The Members view of a work page only changes most of the center column as compared to other Work pages. The top of the central column has a total number of members who own the work, the number of members who have reviewed it, a popularity rank (where 1 is the most popular), an average rating, and a total number of Talk posts which mention the work using touchstones (enclosing the name of the work in brackets.) For details on the fields to the left and right side of the page, see the Help for the Main Work page.
Common Knowledge (CK) is a LibraryThing technology that lets you contribute interesting facts and data about books, authors, editions, and other items within the LibraryThing universe. If each LibraryThing member contributes just a few facts, collectively we can generate all sorts of new understanding about our books and new ways to find links between them. See the introductory blog post to find out more about the initial aims of the project. You can also see the following links for more information about Common Knowledge.
- Common Knowledge Main Page
- Common Knowledge Global History Page
- List of Common Knowledge Contributors on Zeitgeist
- Common Knowledge Clouds Page
This HelpThing page will only discuss the Common Knowledge fields for the Works page, but Common Knowledge is also collected for authors.
The most important thing to remember about Common Knowledge is that unlike Your books, edits made to Common Knowledge fields display for everyone. Common Knowledge is not meant to include information only about your book, or about other versions similar to yours, but ALL versions of a work.
 Features/Formatting rules and usage guidelines
- Entries within Common Knowledge serve as links to a page listing all works or authors with the same entry.
- To edit any Common Knowledge field, just click on the pencil to the right of the field.
- If you want to include multiple entries, use the + button just below the field to create another field; if you put two things together in one field, you will have created a single entry that contains both things. E.g. "New York, USA" entered as an Important Place for a work will link to a page listing all works with "New York, USA" as an important place. "New York, USA" and "Minnesota, USA" in separate fields will create links to both pages. "New York, USA; Minnesota, USA" will link to a page listing only works that also have both states listed together in the same order.
- You can use parentheses in most fields to include "meta" information that is secondary to the item. (See below for examples of this.)
- All data after the first open parenthesis is considered to be part of the metadata.
- While it is not necessary, it is certainly helpful for future expansion if you separate meta values by pipes "|" in the parentheses (first value | second value). Spaces around the pipe are optional.
And most of all HAVE FUN! Don't stress out too much over these rules. If you mess up somebody will be along to correct it.
- Dates should be formatted in the ISO-standard format: YYYY-MM-DD
- The format can be shortened in the case of unknown data: 2007-01 or merely 2007
- If there is some question about the date and you would like to show that then put a question mark in parentheses behind the date like 1600 (?)
- If there is a BC/BCE designation it should immediately follow: 1600 BCE
- AD/CE is implied if the era designation is not there.
- You may use whatever form with which you are most comfortable, BC/AD or BCE/CE, the system will handle it correctly.
- For dates that have only a rough approximation (birth/death dates for some historical figures for instance) you can use circa: c. 14th Century or c. 1350
 Place Names
- U.S. State names should be spelled out (Mississippi, not MS). Do not use state abbreviations. Don't forget to include USA (Georgia is a country, Georgia, USA is a state).
- If the name of a location has changed since the time of writing please use the name used in the work. You may optionally add a line for the modern name of the place (or any other names that it has been called). These extra lines will help for cross-linking items.
- When referencing the city of New York it should be entered as New York, New York, USA .
 Common Knowledge Fields for Works
 Series (with order)
The Series feature is one of the most powerful Common Knowledge fields, but also one that causes the most confusion. A Series must be valid for all versions of a work, not just those from one publisher. For tips on what constitutes a series see this page. Works can belong to more than one series. In some cases, as with Chronicles of Narnia, disagreements about order necessitate the creation of more than one series. In this case, use the plus sign to add a new series entry for an alternate numbering scheme (for example, chronological in the time of a fantasy world versus the order the books were published in our world.)
If the series has an order, add a number or other descriptor in parenthesis after the series title (eg., "Chronicles of Prydain (1)"). By default, it sorts by the number, or alphabetically if there is no number. If you want to force a particular order, use the | character to divide the number and the descriptor. So, "(0|prequel)" sorts by 0 under the label "prequel."
avron contributed this information about numbering a series:
Sorting by (0ga|Genesis 1) works, as does (0g1|Genesis 1), putting those books at the start of the list. Sorting without the number before the letter eg. (g1|Genesis 1) does not work as I expected. Instead of sorting after the main numbered list (which I'd thought the letter would enforce) they get interspersed with it, as though the letter doesn't have any effect. I had realised that anything after the pipe (|) is not supposed to be a part of the sort but have found that as long as there isn't a number before the pipe numbers any after it force sort order. eg. Sorting (g|Genesis 1) etc. intersperses those books with the books normally labeled, (1) etc.
 Canonical title, canonical name
LibraryThing aims to display the most general, common and accepted form of a work's title or an author's name. So, for example, we prefer "The Princess Bride" to "The Princess Bride (25th Anniversary Edition)." To get this common form, LibraryThing chooses the "democratic" answer--the title or name that is used the most on the site. The "Canonical title" and "Canonical name" fields are there for when this falters.
The goal is the most general, common and accepted form in the language of the site, not the most "correct."
- The Brothers Karamazov. The Russian Братья Карамазовы is generally known in English as "The Brothers Karamazov," although both "The Karamazov Brothers" and the Russian title are arguably more correct.
- J. K. Rowling. In English the author of the Harry Potter books is known as J. K. Rowling, not Joanne Rowling or Joanne Murray (her legal name). In Germany, however, her books are ascribed to Joanne K. Rowling, so this would be the canonical form of her name on LibraryThing.de.
If you leave the field blank, LibraryThing will continue to use the democratic method. When in doubt, trust in that.
Names, generally speaking, should follow the MLA Style Manual, §§ 3.6 and 6.6.1, and Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed., § 18.41 (q.v.). Do not list titles (Dr., Sir, Saint, etc.) or degrees (PhD, MA, DDS, etc.) with names. A book whose author is named Edward Pedant, PhD should appear simply as Pedant, Edward. However, suffixes like 'Jr.' or 'II' should be included. To combine examples, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be listed as King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Note: Canonical titles and names are not a solution to these three problems:
- Library vs. Amazon capitalization differences
- Combination problems
- Multiple-author problems
The Canonical Title of a work should be in the language of the site. The English version of the site (www.librarything.com) should have the English title; the French version of the site (www.librarything.fr) should have the French title, and so forth.
 Original publication date
The original publication date refers to the original publication date of the work -- edition-specific publication dates are included in the edition records.
To include multiple original publication dates, simply add the distinguishing text in parentheses. For instance:
- A work was first published in serial form and then in book form.
- Add two fields; the first is "1893 (serial)" and the second is "1893 (book)" Talk, #55
- A work was first published in English and then in Spanish.
- Some people may choose to treat translations as simply editions. However, some people may wish to include in CK each "original publication date" in a new language. Use multiple fields, e.g., "1893 (eng.)", "1895 (esp.)", "1897 (deu.)", etc. Talk, #52
- A work was published in multiple editions, e.g., Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
- Include editions in parentheses.
- 1818 (first publication)
- 1831 (rev.)
- Include editions in parentheses.
- Use separate lines for alter egos.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde should be separate entries.
- Superman and Clark Kent should be separate entries.
- Do NOT list alter egos as meta data in parentheses. This may give spoiler information that some people do not want to know. For instance, listing Clark Kent (Superman) would be a spoiler to those who did not know that fact. This information should be listed as separate entries.
- Titles? (Dr., Colonel, Lt., etc.)
- Nicknames should be in quotation marks, not parentheses, because parentheses mark the end of the actual entry. E.g. Tommy "Tip" Paine instead of Tommy (Tip) Paine because the latter will link to an entry for just Tommy.
 Important places
Remember to use the standards for place names as described above so that the best links will be made. For fantasy lands that cross several works, you may find it helpful to visit the Common Knowledge clouds page to see if there is already a semi-standardized form of the place name (like Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men universe.)
 Important events
The power of Common Knowledge is linking books which share common characteristics. Since events can be known by several names--think WWII, World War II, World War 2, etc.--it's most useful to state an event in the most common form already in use. If you go to the Common Knowledge clouds page and scroll down to the most popular events listing, you can check to see how your event may be listed by someone else.
 Awards and Honors
- List each award on a separate line.
- Use the same labels as previous entries (when appropriate). If entering the first instance of an award, use a relatively short label to limit the truncation of parenthetical information during browsing.
- List all awards that are not associated with a specific work on the corresponding author page.
- Example: Nobel Prizes should be listed on author pages.
- List book awards on the work page (not the author page). Awards listed for works will eventually appear automatically on the corresponding author page (see Chris's comments here and here).
- Example: Pulitzer Prizes, Booker Prizes and Hugo Awards should be listed only on work pages.
- Exceptions: an award for a writing that does not itself constitute a separately-published book (for instance, an individual short story, poem or essay) should be listed on the author page (rather than on the page for each "work" that includes it).
- For awards given in multiple categories, include both the category and year in parentheses. Omit the word "Best" from the category description.
- Examples: Pulitzer Prize (Fiction, 1976) and Nebula (Novella, 2006)
- For awards given in a single category, include only the year in parentheses
- Examples: Booker Prize (1999) and Yale Younger Poets Prize (2004)
- For books that were shortlisted or longlisted for an award, or books/authors that were award finalists or nominees, specify the status outside of the parentheses (so that they browse separately from the winners)
- Examples: Booker Prize Shortlist (1999) and Hugo Nominee (Novel, 2001)
- Nobel Prizes should be entered with the specific prize outside the parentheses, e.g. Nobel Prize in Literature (1945) (discussion thread here)
An epigraph is a brief quotation by another author that appears just before the beginning of the work. For an epigraph, include both the quotation and the author credited with the quotation. Do not enter quotation marks for the epigraph. If there is more than one quotation, use the plus sign to add a new entry for each.
Enter the text of the dedication as it appears in the work.
 First words
Generally, this is the first sentence of the work, but in some cases it may consist of a series of very brief sentences.
Particularly noteworthy quotations from the work may be recorded here. Use the plus sign to add a new line for each quote. Try not to go overboard with this field!
 Last words
The last sentence or so of the work may be entered here. You need not worry about revealing spoilers, since LT automatically hides this field by default until you click it.
 Disambiguation notice
This field allows you to write a short notice to other users about a work. If people keep combining two versions of a book that are not the same, for example "Alice in Wonderland" with "Through the Looking Glass" or combine radio-play versions with the full-length audiobook version, then you should explain the problem in the disambiguation notice. See an example: "Alice in Wonderland" This feature is particularly useful for short stories and novels which carry the same title, or for books where very different books may have very similar titles and look like editions rather than separate works to those unfamiliar with the books.
 Publisher's editors
The Publisher's Editors are the individuals, working for the publisher, who have edited the book (in Lastname, Firstname format; use the + if there is more than one). It can be difficult to identify the editors; sometimes the author will mention them in the acknowledgments. It is not the name of the publisher; although as with all fields the publisher could be included in parentheses after the editor's name. See discussions here and here.
The entry is the name of the person who provided the blurb for the book, not the blurb itself; the name should be in Lastname, Firstname format . Names of publications don't qualify . If you want to include the blurb or other information, please do so inside parentheses.