The ISBN is an identifier for printed books and e-books as well as their various product forms. The ISMN is assigned to printed or electronic notated music publications. Publishers are responsible for acquiring the identifiers, but they are used in all areas of the publication field in their own systems, e.g., libraries, bookstores and book distributors.


Examples of publications for which an ISBN may be assigned:

  • Printed books and pamphlets (as well as their various product forms
  • Separate maps and atlases
  • Teaching packs containing both printed and audiovisual resources
  • Educational and teaching films, videos and overhead presentations
  • Audio books on cassette tape, CD or DVD
  • Computer software designed for educational or teaching purposes
  • Mixed-media publications with primarily text-based content
  • Publications in Braille
  • Electronic publications (e.g., CD-ROM, PDF, EPUB)
  • Print-on-demand publications
  • Individual volumes of a publication when published separately


Examples of publications for which an ISBN will not be assigned:

  • Printed products intended for short-term use, such as calendars, almanacs, advertisements, price lists, user instructions, programmes and brochures
  • Text-free publications, such as postcards, booklets, etc., as well as publications intended for completion by the user
  • Games and toys
  • Computer software unintended for education or instruction
  • Videos, films and overhead presentations unintended for education or instruction
  • Electronic noticeboards
  • Email messages and other electronic correspondence
  • Private documents (e.g., CVs and personal profiles in electronic format)
  • Notated music publications
  • Music sound recordings
  • Continuing resources (e.g., periodicals, material and serials without pretermined conclusion)


An ISMN identifier may be assigned to:

  • Notated music publication
  • Scores
  • Miniature scores
  • Piano scores
  • Sets of parts (publications consisting of parts for individual voices or instruments)
  • Individual parts available separately
  • Pop folios
  • Compilations, anthologies
  • Other media that are an integral component of a notated music publication (e.g., a recording of one voice of a composition)
  • Song texts or lyrics published with the notated music which are also available separately
  • Commentary published with the notated music which is also available separately
  • Songbooks featuring  notated music
  • Braille notated music publications
  • Micro-form notated music publications
  • Electronic notated music publications (e.g., CD-ROM, PDF, EPUB)
  • Individual parts of a publication when published separately


Examples of publications for which an ISMN will not be assigned:

  • Books on music
  • Stand-alone sound or video recordings (including recordings in electronic format)
  • Periodicals and series as a whole, excluding individual volumes in a series


The EAN barcode in the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) can be created on the basis of the ISBN or ISMN. The GTIN begins with the prefix 978 or 979, which is followed by the 9 digits of the ISBN or ISMN without hyphens as well as the check digit calculated by the GTIN code system. T

The publication must always feature the ISBN or ISMN directly above the barcode. In Finland, further information on barcodes is available through GS1 Finland.

The Finnish ISBN Agency distributes only ISBNs; each publisher is responsible for obtaining a barcode.









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