Difference Between ISBN and ISSN (With Table)

Both ISBN and ISSN are codes or series of numbers. Publishers use these codes to serialise every publication. These codes are sets of unique numbers, and it helps to find every published written material. ISBN and ISSN have the same aim, but they work for different types of publication. Both of the codes assist in identifying the books or series of books.


The difference between ISBN and ISSN is that the ISBN specifies editions of books, and the ISSN is used for series of books. ISSN is compulsory, whereas ISSN is avoidable by the publishers. ISBN is a thirteen-digit code, whereas ISSN is an eight-digit standard number.

ISBN is a thirteen-digit code used for a single book. ISBN is different for each volume. The same book’s different edition will have different ISBN codes. ISBN code helps to find out the publisher and details of publication. This code is crucial for publication.

ISSN is an eight-digit code used for a series of books. ISSN is supposed to be the same in all the issues of a single series. Through the ISSN, the publisher of the series can not be tracked down. A publisher does not need to use ISSN out of obligation.

Comparison Table Between ISBN and ISSN

Parameters of ComparisonISBNISSN
Full form ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.The full form of ISSN is The International Standard Serial Number.
Used forISBN is used for single books or monographs.ISSN is used for series of books or serials like magazines, journals and newspapers.
PublisherISBN can identify the publisher of the book.ISSN can not identify the publisher of the series.
DigitsISBN is a thirteen-digit number standard code. ISSN is an eight-digit standard number.
ApplicationApplication of ISBN is mandatory.Application of ISSN is optional.

What is ISBN?

The full term of ISBN is International Standard Book Number. This is a thirteen-digit number for the identification of a book. The Publishing industry’s activities can be controlled by this ISBN.

ISBN is for published hardcover and paperback books. ISBN code is different for different volumes. If a book has more than one edition, then all the editions will have different unique codes. The number is divided into five parts and connected with a hyphen.

Before 2007 the ISBN code used to be a ten-digit number. So if a book has a ten-digit ISBN, then it means that book was published before 2007.

ISBN may appear useless and insignificant to common people, but it is significant to the publishing industry, and it is important to get ISBN for every book.

The publisher of the book can be identified by the ISBN of a book. ISBN can not propose copyright, it is used to identify the book, and it is possible to find a specific book by its ISBN. In a paperback book, the ISBN can be seen on the bottom of the back cover. It can be written as a number or can be printed as a barcode. This makes the sales process easier.

A publisher has to get ISBN for every publication. It is mandatory. Otherwise, he/ she has to face legal issues.

What is ISSN?

In 1971 the ISSN system was formulated. ISSN is the abbreviation of International Standard Serial Number. ISSN is an international standards number to identify serial publications like newspaper, magazines, journals and other periodicals. Both online and offline publications can get ISSN code. It is an eight-digit number that comes after the uppercase ISSN. The eight digits are divided into two parts. Each part has four digits. The two parts are connected by a hyphen in between.

The code does not provide any information about the origin or contents of the publication, and it does not guarantee the quality of the material either. ISSN takes no responsibility for the content of the publication. ISSN does not ensure copyrights.

Publishers use it to identify their serial publications. Libraries also use it to identify and distinguish between identical serial titles. Academics use it for research purposes to cite the details of publications. ISSN helps to construct barcodes. ISSN’s International database is available online.

ISSN code can be seen on the cover page of the offline publication, and in the case of an online publication, one can see it on the home page. ISSN code remains the same for different issues of the same series.

This code is optional. The publishers are not legally bound to put ISSN code on a publication. It is not mandatory, so the publisher can avoid it if they want.

Main Differences Between ISBN and ISSN

  1. As the full forms state, ISBN is used for a single book. ISSN is used for series and periodicals like magazines and journals.
  2. ISBN is a thirteen-digit number, whereas ISSN is an eight-digit number.
  3. ISBN code is supposed to be different in different volumes. But ISSN code should be the same for different issues of the same series.
  4. Putting ISBN is mandatory for the publisher. It is the publisher’s legal obligation. That is, if the publisher does not get the ISBN code for his publication, then he/she can face legal troubles. But ISSN is not unavoidable. The publisher is not bound to put ISSN in a publication; he/she can easily skip this without any trouble.
  5. Through ISBN, the publisher of that publication can be traced, but the ISSN code is not competent to track down the publisher.


Humans have identity cards, and books and book-like resources have ISBN and ISSN codes. What identification card is to us, ISBN and ISSN are to books and series of books.

An identification number is vital for any published material. It helps to serialise the materials for future references.

Under the unique codes, all the necessary information about the book, like the name of the book, author, publications and date of publication, is gathered. So in future, by the codes, it is possible to find out all the noted information.

These codes are not for laymen, it is for professional and official usage. And it is very crucial for official purposes.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895717700002910
  2. https://e-currentscience.com/storage/app/archive/pdf/IC5Q3tB55bWsjmNzkNdQwysPDlaCbylAxCfy7NPB.pdf

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