Chain indexing

A chain is a string of terms organized in a particular sequence based on the classification scheme that the chain adapts. The sequence of terms is pre-coordinated. Ranganathan is credited with the invention of chain indexing, an economical system of providing access to the terms in classification schedules without replicating the hierarchical structure of the classification in the alphabetical index.


Chain indexing was used, for example, in the British National Bibliography (BNB) in the 1950s and 1960s until they were replaced by PRECIS-indexing.







Batty, C. D. (1970). Chain indexing. In Encyclopedia of library and information science, v. 4, 427.

Coates, E. J. (1960). Subject catalogues: headings and structure. London: Library Association. [Chapters IX and X]


Devadason, F. J., Intaraksa, N., Patamawongjariya, P. & Desai, K. (2002). Faceted indexing based system for organizing and accessing Internet resources. Knowledge organization, 29(2), 65-77.

Henriksen, T. (1982). On the mechanization of the chain index. In I. Dahlberg, (Ed.). Universal classification II: subject analysis and ordering systems. Proc. of the 4th Int. Study Conf. on Classification research, Augsburg, 28.6.-2.7.1982. (p. 102). Frankfurt: Indeks.

Liu, S. & Svenonius, E. (1991). DORS: DDC Online Retrieval System. Library Resources and Technical Services, 35(4), 359-375.


Mills, J. (1955). Chain indexing and the classified catalogue. Library Association Record, 57, 141-148.


Ranganathan, S.R. (1964). Classified catalogue code. 5th ed. Asia Publishing House. [Chapters KB and KC]


Ranganathan, S. R. (1965). Chain procedure: its developments, its uses, its light on basic class and its problems. Paper delivered at the DRTC Seminar, No. 3, 1965. (Paper U).


Remesh Kumar, V. & Parameswaran, M. (1998). Chain indexing and LISA. Knowledge organization, 25(1-2), 3-15.

Remesh Kumar, V. & Parameswaran, M. (1999). Chain indexing and UDC.
Annals of library science and documentation, 46(2), 53-58.


Wilson, T. D. (1971). An introduction to chain indexing. Hamden, Conn.: Linnet Books.  (Programmed texts in library and information science). Web edition (2007):



Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 12-05-2007