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Lang:  Language Code

Record Type



ALL: 008/35-37

Input Standards

ALL: Mandatory. Three-character code. Default: fill character fill character fill character



Lang represents the language of the item. The item is the principal work, including legends, accompanying text, and sung or spoken text. It excludes prefaces, introductions, forewords, and appendices. Notes about languages are entered in field 546.

  • A single language code may be insufficient to describe the language of an item. If the item is multilingual or a translation, use multiple language codes. Enter the first code in Lang. Enter the multiple codes (including the first code) in field 041.
  • Use the predominant language code for a multilingual item that has two to six languages. If predominance cannot be determined, use the code that is first alphabetically. If the multilingual item has more than six languages, use the code for the language of the first title in field 245. If the item is multilingual with no predominant language and the cataloging institution has chosen not to specify a language, use code mul.
  • Additionally, use field 041 if an item is multilingual or a translation or has accompanying material, summaries, or tables of contents in another language. See field 041 for more information.
  • If the language cannot be determined, use code und.
  • If the resource is in a language not accounted for in the MARC Code List for Languages, see the additional information in field 041 and report the language to the ISO 639-2 maintenance agency at the Library of Congress at
  • Lang can be used along with field 377 and field 546.
  • If you are inputting a record without examining the item, determine the language code from the title or from a language note.

Code for the language of the data and/or the user interface (e.g., textual displays) not the programming language (BASIC, C+, etc.).


If a score or recording has no sung or spoken text, use zxx. Use und for vocalises, humming, and other texts that are wordless or consist of nonsense syllables.


Lang coding depends on the type of material.

  • For moving image materials, the language content is defined as the sound track, the accompanying sound, or sign language. For moving image materials with no sound or sign language content or if with sound and without narration, use zxx. Do not code Lang based solely on the container or packaging.
  • For filmstrips and slides, code for the text on the film, the accompanying sound, or the accompanying printed script (for works with no sound or if with sound and without narration).
  • For all other still images, including original or historical graphic material and opaque and non-opaque graphic material, and three-dimensional materials, the language content is that associated with the material, i.e., captions or other text associated with the item or collection that are part of the chief source of information.


See MARC Code List for Languages for a list of codes.


For indexing and searching information, see Searching WorldCat Indexes, 008/35-37.


For more information, including content designator history, see MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data, 008/35-37 (All Materials).

This page last revised: August 28, 2020