Idiot's guide to Implementing OpenURL 1.0 for Books

(se also a corresponding guide for Journal Articles.)

Here's the smallest amount of information that you need to know to make correct, minimized, NISO OpenURL 1.0 links for books:

a 1.0 OpenURL using the "book metadata format can be made as follows


<baseurl> is the bit that you need to customize for each institution, it's the address of their OpenURL link service.

url_ver=Z39.88-2004 says "this is a version 1.0 OpenURL".

rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:book says "this URL uses the info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:book metadata format to describe the thing that the link is about".

The journal metadata <key>s are summarized below (order does not matter, all elements are optional.) Values need to be URL-encoded. In other words:

<space> --> %20
# --> %23
% --> %25
& --> %26
+ --> %2B  
< --> %3C
= --> %3D
> --> %3E
? --> %3F
You also need to escape accented characters, such as:
é --> %C3%A9
ü --> %C3%BC
but you'll want professional help for them!

It's strongly recommended that you add a "referrer id" like this:


If you have a doi or a url for the thing you're linking to,you can add them like this:

Key Explanation
rft.btitle The title of the book. This can also be expressed as title, for compatibility with version 0.1. "moby dick or the white whale"
rft.isbn International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The ISBN is usually presented as 9 digits plus a final check digit (which may be "X"), i.e. "057117678X" but it may contain hyphens, i.e. "1-878067-73-7"
rft.aulast First author's family name. This may be more than one word. In many citations, the author's family name is recorded first and is followed by a comma, i.e. Smith, Fred James is recorded as "aulast=smith"
rft.aufirst First author's given name or names or initials. This data element may contain multiple words and punctuation, i.e. "Fred F", "Fred James"
rft.auinit First author's first and middle initials.
rft.auinit1 First author's first initial.
rft.auinitm First author's middle initial.
rft.ausuffix First author's name suffix. Qualifiers on an author's name such as "Jr.", "III" are entered here. i.e. Smith, Fred Jr. is recorded as "ausuffux=jr" This data element contains the full name of a single author, i. e. "Smith, Fred M", "Harry S. Truman". (au is repeatable)
rft.aucorp Organization or corporation that is the author or creator of the book, i.e. "Mellon Foundation"
rft.atitle Chapter title. Chapter title is included if it is a distinct title, i.e. "The Push Westward."
rft.title Book title. Provided for compatibility with version 0.1. Prefer btitle. Place of publication. "New York" Publisher name. "Harper and Row" Date of publication. Book dates are assumed to be a single year.
rft.edition Statement of the edition of the book. This will usually be a phrase, with or without numbers, but may be a single number. I.e. "First edition", "4th ed."
rft.tpages Total pages. Total pages is the largest recorded number of pages, if this can be determined. I.e., "ix, 392 p." would be recorded as "392" in tpages. This data element is usually available only for monographs (books and printed reports). In some cases, tpages may not be numeric, i.e. "F36"
rft.series The title of a series in which the book or document was issued. There may also be an ISSN associated with the series.
rft.spage First page number of a start/end (spage-epage) pair. Note that pages are not always numeric.
rft.epage Second (ending) page number of a start/end (spage-epage) pair.
rft.pages Start and end pages for parts of a book, i.e. "124-147". This can also be used for an unstructured pagination statement when data relating to pagination cannot be interpreted as a start-end pair, i.e. "A7, C4-9", "1-3,6". This data element includes the OpenURL 0.1 definition of "pages".
rft.issn International Standard Serials Number (ISSN). The issn may contain a hyphen, i.e. "1041-5653". An ISSN in the book format is often associated with a series title.
bici Book Item and Component Identifier (BICI). BICI is a draft NISO standard.
a publication that is complete in one part or a designated finite number of parts, often identified with an ISBN.
a defined section of a book, usually with a separate title or number.
a conference paper or proceeding published in a conference publication.
a publication bundling the proceedings of a conference.
report or technical report is a published document that is issued by an organization, agency or government body.
general document type to be used when available data elements do not allow determination of a more specific document type, i.e. when one has only author and title but no publication information.
use when the genre of the document is unknown.

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