International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


The ISBN is the standardised 13-digit international number that uniquely identifies a monographic publication. It benefits and allows publishers, book suppliers and libraries worldwide to easily locate and order items.


The National Library serves as the ISBN National Agency for Singapore and issues Singapore ISBNs to material published in Singapore by Singapore publishers.



Benefits of ISBN


The benefits of having an ISBN for your publication include:

  1. It uniquely identifies your publication internationally forever.
  2. It allows quick access to information about your publication in book-trade directories and bibliographic databases.
  3. It allows fast and efficient ordering and distribution of your publication.

Applying for an ISBN


Singapore and Singapore-based publishers who publish either a book, book-related product or a pamphlet/brochure of eight pages or more in Singapore ,can apply for Singapore ISBNs.


Eligible Singapore and Singapore-based Publishers are as follows:

  • Individual publishers i.e. self-publishers, author publishers. Applicable to Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents only.
  • Commercial organisations e.g. commercial publishers, business companies, publishing houses, audio-visual producers, etc. who are registered in Singapore.
  • Non-commercial organisations such as
    • Government departments and agencies of Singapore
    • Academic institutions e.g. schools, colleges and universities in Singapore
    • Registered societies, religious societies, clan associations, clubs etc. in Singapore.

The application for ISBN is free of charge.



Types of Publications Eligible for an ISBN


Examples of types of physical publications which an ISBN can be assigned are:

  • Printed books and pamphlets
  • Audiobooks in CDs or DVDs
  • Braille publications
  • Digitised copies of printed monographic publications
  • Educational/instructional films and videos
  • Educational or instructional software
  • Electronic publications either on physical carriers (e.g. CD-ROMs) or on the Internet
  • Maps
  • Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)


Publications available electronically (e.g. e-book, e-book app, CD-ROM, or on the Internet) will qualify for an ISBN provided that it contains text and is made available to the public and that there is no intention for the publication to be a continuing resource. Such publications may also include pictures and sounds.


A separate ISBN is required for every format (e.g. hardcover, paperback, CD-ROM, online version) and language edition published.


More Information on ISBN


For more information on the ISBN, please view our FAQ or visit the International ISBN Agency website or its ISBN Users’ Manual.



International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


The ISSN is the standardised 8-digit international code that uniquely identifies a serial publication, i.e. a publication issued in successive parts to be published under a common title for an indefinite period. These include periodicals, journals and newsletters. It is independent of its country of publication, language or alphabet, frequency, medium etc. The ISSN is linked to the title of the serial and remains the same for every issue as long as the title does not change.


The National Library serves as the ISSN National Centre for Singapore and issues Singapore ISSNs to serials published in Singapore.


Benefits of ISSN


The benefits of having an ISSN for your publication include:

  1. It is an international reference number for your publication used by suppliers and libraries for selection and acquisition.
  2. It enables your publication to be easily identified, differentiated and accessed.

Types of Publications Eligible for an ISSN


All continuing resources irrespective of their medium ( print, electronic or online ) are eligible for an ISSN. Some examples of continuing resources/publications are:

  • Annual publications (reports, directories, etc.)
  • Journals
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Blogs
  • Websites


A serial publication issued in different media (e.g. physical copy, online version, CD-ROM) or different language editions etc., requires different ISSNs even if the title is the same.


The application for ISSN is free of charge.



More Information on ISSN


For more information on ISSN, please view our FAQ or visit the ISSN International Centre website.



International Standard Music Number (ISMN)


The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is the standardised 13-digit international number that uniquely identifies a notated music publication, both printed and digital, whether available for sale, hire or free. ISMN is not used for sound, audiotapes, CD-ROMs, video recordings or for books on music.


ISMN allows for more efficient marketing of printed music products within the publishing houses, music trade and libraries by establishing a unique identifier for each printed music title (a part, a score or an element in a multi-media kit) or edition of a title by a specific publisher.


The National Library serves as the ISMN National Agency for Singapore and issues Singapore ISMNs to notated music published in Singapore.


Types of Publications Eligible for an ISMN


Publishers, including author publishers, should obtain an ISMN for the following types of printed music:

  • Anthologies
  • Commentaries published with the notated music (also available separately)
  • Braille music publications
  • Electronic publications of musical notations
  • Individual parts, available separately
  • Microform music publications
  • Miniature (study) scores
  • Other media that are an integral component of a publication of notated music (e.g. a tape recording that is one of the 'parts' of a composition)
  • Pop folios
  • Sets of parts
  • Song books (optional)
  • Song texts or lyrics published with the notated music (if available separately)
  • Scores
  • Vocal scores


The following types of publications which should not be assigned an ISMN are:

  • Books on music except when they contain examples of notated music
  • Periodicals and series as a whole, as distinct from individual volumes in series
  • Stand-alone sound or video recordings (including recordings available on computer media)


The application for ISMN is free of charge.



More information on ISMN


For more information on ISMN, please view our FAQ or visit the International ISMN Agency website.