Publisher Item Identifier

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The Publisher Item Identifier (PII) is a unique identifier used by a number of scientific journal publishers to identify documents.[1] It uses the pre-existing ISSN or ISBN of the publication in question, and adds a character for source publication type, an item number, and a check digit.

The system was adopted in 1996 by the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, Elsevier Science, and the IEEE.


A PII is a 17-character string, consisting of:

  • one character to indicate source publication type: "S" = serial with ISSN, "B" = book with ISBN
  • ISSN (8 digits) or ISBN (10 characters) of the serial or book to which the publication item is primarily assigned
  • in the case of serials an additional two digit number to pad the difference between the 8-digit ISSN and an ISBN (suggested are the last two digits of calendar year of the date of assignment, which is not necessarily identical to the cover date)
  • a 5-digit number assigned by the publisher that is unique to the publication item within the serial or book
  • a check digit (0-9 or X)

When a PII is printed (as opposed to stored in a database), the 17-character string may be extended with punctuation characters to make it more readable to humans, as in Sxxxx-xxxx(yy)iiiii-d or Bx-xxx-xxxxx-x/iiiii-d.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Publisher Item Identifier as a means of document identification, Elsevier web site, last update 9 April 1998, accessed October 2003

External links[edit]