ISBN vs ISSN: Difference and Comparison

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 publications. Both of the codes assist in identifying the books or series of books.

Key Takeaways

  1. ISBN is a unique identifier for books and other print media, while ISSN is a unique identifier for serial publications such as magazines and journals.
  2. ISBN consists of 13 digits, while ISSN consists of eight digits.
  3. ISBN is assigned to a specific publication edition, while ISSN is assigned to the publication as a whole and remains the same for each issue.


ISBN specifies editions of books, and the ISSN is used for a 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 other edition will have different ISBN codes. ISBN code helps to find out the publisher and details of the 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 string. Through ISSN, the series’ publisher can not be tracked down. A publisher does not need to use ISSN out of obligation.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonISBNISSN
Full form ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.The complete structure 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. This ISBN can control the Publishing industry’s activities.

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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 other unique regulations. 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, it means it was published before 2007.

ISBN may appear useless and insignificant to ordinary people, but it is significant to the publishing industry, and getting ISBN for every book is essential.

The ISBN of the book can identify the publisher of the book. ISBN can not propose copyright, it is used to determine 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 printed as a barcode. This makes the sales process easier.

A publisher has to get ISBN for every publication. It is mandatory. Otherwise, they have 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 standard number to identify serial publications like newspapers, magazines, journals and other periodicals.

Both online and offline publications can get the 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. A hyphen connects the two pieces in between.

The code does not provide any information about the origin or contents of the publication, nor does it guarantee the material’s quality either. ISSN takes no responsibility for the content of the magazine. ISSN does not ensure copyrights.

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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 that the publisher can avoid it.


Main Differences Between ISBN and ISSN

  1. As the complete 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 the ISSN code should be the same for other issues of the same series.
  4. Putting ISBN is mandatory for the publisher. It is the publisher’s legal obligation. If the publisher does not get the ISBN code for his publication, 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 problem.
  5. Through ISBN, the publisher of that publication can be traced, but the ISSN code is not competent to track down the publisher.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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25 thoughts on “ISBN vs ISSN: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It’s interesting to see how ISBN and ISSN help in identifying publications and understanding their unique characteristics.

  2. The distinction between ISBN and ISSN is a crucial aspect of the publishing field and cannot be overlooked.

  3. The detailed explanation of ISBN and ISSN is an enlightening read and provides valuable insights into the essential roles these codes play in the publication industry.

  4. I never realized how influential ISBN and ISSN are in distinguishing single books from serial publications, this is an essential difference.

  5. It’s interesting to note how essential ISBN and ISSN are in ensuring the unique identification of books and serial publications.

  6. Both ISBN and ISSN are crucial in distinguishing between different types of publications, and their unique characteristics are key to the publishing industry.

  7. It’s fascinating to see the practical differences between ISBN and ISSN and how they operate in the publishing industry.

  8. The thorough explanation of the differences between ISBN and ISSN is important for those involved in the publishing and academic fields.


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