Locate subject headings for your topic
What are Subject Headings?
Subject headings are a set of terms or phrases (known as controlled vocabulary) that classify
materials. Essentially they identify and pull together under a common
umbrella information about a given subject. Most online catalogs and databases use
some form of subject headings, though they may also be called descriptors or keywords.
The Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings (LCSH) are used to identify subjects for items in
the UIUC Online Library Catalog. The UIUC Online Library Catalog also uses the Medical Subject
Headings (MeSH) for medical topics. They can be used as described below for LCSH.
How to Use LC Subject Headings (LCSH)
Strategy 1 - Use the LCSH print index to find subject headings for your topic:
- Locate the Library of Congress Subject Headings in the reference area collection.
Call number: Q 025.36 U5811S
- Subject terms are listed in alphabetical order.
- Valid subject headings will be listed in bold type.
Non-valid subject headings will include a
USE reference directing you to the correct subject term
- The use of dashes -- in a subject heading list designates further subdivisions that will make a
subject heading more specific.
Below is a sample LCSH entry:
BT - Broader Topic - Use to expand your search using a broader topic.
NT - Narrower Topics - Use to focus your search using a narrower topic.
RT - Related Topic - Alternitive terminology for your topic.
UF - This is the appropriate subject heading is use for these words. DO NOT search
by words listed as UF.
USE - Identifies the correct heading to use for your topic.
Strategy 2 - Use the UIUC Online Library Catalog to find subject headings for your topic :
- Enter the
UIUC Online Library
- Select the
Classic Catalog: Quick Search option.
- Enter your topic into the
Search For box and click search.
Browse Subject from the
Search By box.
Search. An alphabetical list of subject headings closest to your search
term will be returned.
- Click on any subject heading to view items that have been assigned that subject heading.
See Also boxes to the left of subject headings. This box will direct you to
similar subject headings or provide a list of broader terms, narrower terms, and see also
references. These provide additional opportunities to focus your search.
In some cases, results of a search will not include the subject term that you searched. This
does not mean that the Library does not have materials on this topic. LC Subject Headings are not
always intuitive. For example, the LC Subject Heading for the Vietnam War or Conflict is Vietnamese
Strategy 3 - Use LCSH after you have found an item:
- Locate an item in the Online Library Catalog and click on the title to view the record for the
- Scroll through the record to the heading
Subject (LCSH), these are the Library of Congress Subject Headings for this
- Click on a subject heading link to view an alphabetical list of subject headings.
Click on a subject heading in this list to view a list of items that have been assigned that
See Also box to the left of the subject heading, if available, to view
additional subject headings to focus your search.