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Colon classification (CC) is a system of library classification developed by S. R. Ranganathan. It was the first ever faceted (or analytico-synthetic) classification. The first edition was published in 1933. Since then six more editions have been published. It is especially used in libraries in India.

Its name "colon classification" comes from the use of colons to separate facets in class numbers. However, many other classification schemes, some of which are completely unrelated, also use colons and other punctuation in various functions. They should not be confused with colon classification.

As an example, the subject "research in the cure of tuberculosis of lungs by x-ray conducted in India in 1950" results in a call number


The components of this call number represent



The colon classification uses 42 main classes that are combined with other letters, numbers and marks in a manner resembling the Library of Congress Classification to sort a publication.


CC uses five primary categories, or facets, to further specify the sorting of a publication. Collectively, they are called PMEST:

, Personality, the most specific or focal subject.
; Matter or property, the substance, properties or materials of the subject.
: Energy, including the processes, operations and activities.
. Space, which relates to the geographic location of the subject.
' Time, which refers to the dates or seasons of the subject.


The following are the main classes of CC, with some subclasses, the main method used to sort the subclass using the PMEST scheme and examples showing application of PMEST.

z Generalia
1 Universe of Knowledge
2 Library Science
3 Book science
4 Journalism
B Mathematics
B2 Algebra
C Physics
D Engineering
E Chemistry
F Technology
G Biology
H Geology
HX Mining
I Botany
J Agriculture
J1 Horticulture
J2 Feed
J3 Food
J4 Stimulant
J5 Oil
J6 Drug
J7 Fabric
J8 Dye
K Zoology
KZ Animal Husbandry
L Medicine
LZ3 Pharmacology
LZ5 Pharmacopoeia
M Useful arts
M7 Textiles [material]:[work]
Δ Spiritual experience and mysticism [religion],[entity]:[problem]
N Fine arts
ND Sculpture
NN Engraving
NQ Painting
NR Music
O Literature
P Linguistics
Q Religion
R Philosophy
S Psychology
T Education
U Geography
V History
W Political science
X Economics
Y Sociology
Z Law


A common example of the colon classification is:

  • "Research in the cure of the tuberculosis of lungs by x-ray conducted in India in 1950s":
  • Main classification is Medicine
    • (Medicine)
  • Within Medicine, the Lungs are the main concern
    • (Medicine,Lungs)
  • The property of the Lungs is that they are afflicted with Tuberculosis
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis)
  • The Tuberculosis is being performed (:) on, that is the intent is to cure (Treatment)
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis:Treatment)
  • The matter that we are treating the Tuberculosis with are X-Rays
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis:Treatment;X-ray)
  • And this discussion of treatment is regarding the Research phase
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis:Treatment;X-ray:Research)
  • This Research is performed within a geographical space (.) namely India
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis:Treatment;X-ray:Research.India)
  • During the time (') of 1950
    • (Medicine,Lungs;Tuberculosis:Treatment;X-ray:Research.India'1950)
  • And translating into the codes listed for each subject and facet the classification becomes
    • L,45;421:6;253:f.44'N5

See also


  • Colon Classification (6th Edition) by Dr. S.R. Ranganathan, published by Ess Ess Publications, Delhi, India
  • Chan, Lois Mai. Cataloging and Classification: An Introduction. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, c1994. ISBN 0-07-010506-5.

External links