Having an XML schema does not mean that you lose control over formatting. MODS does not allow mixed contents, that is, the interweaving of text and elements, but e.g TEI and XHTML do, and these formats have XML schemas as well. XML as such does not require separating contents from formatting.

All standard bibliographical styles (Chicago, MLA, …) require italicising titles when they occur in titles; it titles are globally italicised, then the italicised part is marked by being un-italicised.

"Playing Hamlet" as the title of an article would be about playing the role of Hamlet, "Hamlet" referring to the person Hamlet;

"Playing Hamlet" as the title of a book would be about playing the role of Hamlet and it could be output globally italicised;

"Playing <em>Hamlet</em>" as the title of an article would be about playing the play Hamlet, shown by italicising "Hamlet";

"Playing <em>Hamlet</em>" as the title of a book would be about playing the play Hamlet, but the italicising of "Hamlet" would be cancelled and only "Playing" would be italicised if the output was globally italicised.

We believe that this is important for outputting academic bibliographies, so we allow use of <em> in titles (we have not considered sub- and superscripts). Though the change to the MODS schema would be considerable, I still think that it is necessary in the long run to allow mixed contents.


On 6 Dec 2014 at 19:11:07, McAulay, Elizabeth ([log in to unmask]) wrote:

Hi Vicky,

To echo Peter's email, I would advise that you not include italics in your MODS. MODS is an XML schema, and the principle in XML is to separate data from formatting like italics. Later, you use a stylesheet (css or XSLT) to style all titles so that they are italicized. But you can imagine if you have a search result page, you might want to have your titles in bold instead of italics.

I hope that helps a little bit, but feel free to forward more specifics.


Elizabeth "Lisa" McAulay
Librarian for Digital Collection Development
UCLA Digital Library Program
email: emcaulay [at]
From: Metadata Object Description Schema List [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Peter MacDonald [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2014 8:36 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [MODS] Preserving italics, subscript and superscript in MODS

I suppose you could use HTML and wrap the values in <![CDATA[<your_text_here>], [1], but that would severaly interfere with delivery in most repositories and undermine interoperability I would think.

Of course, the whole element can be styled by a stylesheet upon delivery in any way you want. To take advantage of that, though, you'd have to break up your value into multiple MODS elements and style each one separately.

Other than that, I don't know of any way to preserve such text formatting within a MODS element, but would be pleasantly surprised to learn of a way to do so.


Peter MacDonald

Peter MacDonald
Library Information Systems Specialist
Hamilton College Library
315 859-4493
Skype: pmacdona-hamilton

On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 8:47 AM, SUBSCRIBE MODS Vicky Phillips <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear All,

We are in the process of converting a Procite database to MODS.  Can
anyone advise us as to how we can preserve text in italics and things
like subscript and superscript?  Your help would be very much appreciated.

Digital Standards Manager
National Library of Wales