Colon classification

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.

In CC, facets describe "personality" (the most specific subject), matter, energy, space, and time (PMEST). These facets are generally associated with every item in a library, and so form a reasonably universal sorting system.[1]

As an example, the subject "research in the cure of tuberculosis of lungs by x-ray conducted in India in 1950" would be categorized as:


This is summarized in a specific call number:



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
YZ Social Work
Z Law


A common example of the colon classification is:

See also


  1. GOPINATH (M A). Colon classification: Its theory and practice. Library Herald . 26, 1 - 2; 1987; 1 - 3.
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