The descriptive scheme used in the catalogue follows a modified form of the AMREMM content standard , developed by the project cataloguer following the detailed approach outlined by Adam Gacek in Appendix V. of his Vademecum . Terminology employed is also informed by:
- Déroche, François, et al. Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script. London: Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2006.
- Miller, Julia. Books Will Speak Plain: A Handbook for Identifying and Describing Historical Bindings. Ann Arbor, MI: The Legacy Press, 2010.
- Roberts, Matt and Don Etherington. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Washington : Library of Congress : 1982.
- (For other terminology resources see http://guides.lib.umich.edu/msdesc/)
The scheme addresses:
shelfmark, main title (with source), main author, other title(s) (with sources), place/date of production, physical dimensions, summary, subjects, language(s), format, incipit, explicit, colophon, dedication, contents, collation, layout, script, decoration, support, binding, accompanying materials, former shelfmarks, origin, ownership and history, included works (with authors), scribe(s), former owner(s), collator(s), patron(s), calligrapher(s), references, collection (i.e. sub-collection), and details of acquisition (displayed in MARC view).
A few of these descriptive elements may seem ambiguous or invovle unfamiliar specialized terminology. See the following list for clarification:
other title(s) (with sources): Refers to the various titles that might appear both within a manuscript and in standard reference works. Varying titles within the manuscript could be found on the endpapers, on the 'title page', in the preface, in the colophon, in quire signatures, on the spine, on the fore edge of the text block, etc.
incipit: Refers to the opening words of the text, the choice of which may allude to the subject matter of the composition, and in Islamic manuscripts most often beginning with the بسملة, followed by the حمدلة or تسبيح. Here we are interested in transcribing the words following the بسملة.
explicit: Refers to the final words of the composition proper. Here we are interested in transcribing these final words just before the beginning colophon. Also known as desinit.
colophon: Refers to the final words at the end of the text, occasionally set off in form, size, script or even language from the main text. A manuscript may have no colophon or multiple colophons (e.g., one for each volume in a multi-volume work or each corresponding to one of several works appearing in a single codex). Here we are interested in noting whether a colophon is scribal or authorial and its form/shape and language, along with transcribing it.
dedication: Refers to a statement in the manuscript regarding for whom the manuscript was composed, particularly if it was commissioned and copied for a patron. Here we are interested in the person copied for and nature of the statement.
collation: Refers here to the establishment of the correct sequence of quires in the textblock by means of catchwords, quire signatures, and foliation. Here, most precisely expressed in a statement of collation with a description of the foliation, the quire signatures, and any catchwords.
layout: Refers to the arrangement of various elements on the page (mise-en-page), as well as number of lines per page and the presence of rulings and/or prickings.
support: Refers to the writing surface (namely papyrus, parchment or paper), its nature and state of preservation. Here, with much paper, we are particularly interested in whether European or non (Arab, Persian, Indian, etc.), laid or wove with characterization of the chain lines, and description of any watermarks. Obviously much of this cannot be assessed via the digitized manuscript but must be supplied through an examination of the physical codex.
binding: Addresses not only the cover and any secondary coverings or enclosures in terms of materials, ornament and other physical features but also structure, attachment to the text block (or lack thereof), sewing, endbands, condition, and evidence of repair. Emergent typologies are also referenced (e.g. type II >> cover includes a flap, type III >> cover does not include a flap, two-piece binding, framed binding, wrapper binding, etc.). See Déroche et al. Islamic Codicology; Max Weisweiler, Der Islamische Bucheinband des Mittelalters. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1962; Karin Scheper, "Refining the Classification of Islamic Manuscript Structures," In New Approaches to Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration, Ed. Patricia Engel, et al. (Horn/Wien: Verlag Berger, 2011): 357-383; Jake Benson, “Satisfying an Appetite for Books: Innovation, Production, and Modernization in Later Islamic Bookbinding,” Proceedings of the Conference on Codicology of Manuscripts of the Arabic Script. Madrid, Spain. May 19th-21st 2010, (Forthcoming); Evyn Kropf, "Historical Repair, Recycling, and Recovering Phenomena in the Islamic Bindings of The University of Michigan Library: Exploring the Codicological Evidence," In Suave Mechanicals: Essays on the History of Bookbinding vol. I, Ed. Julia Miller (Ann Arbor, MI: The Legacy Press, 2013): 1-41.
origin: Refers to where, when, and by whom the manuscript was produced. Here we are particularly interested in the copyist, date of copying, place of copying, mode of copying, and destination (if copied for someone). Date and place of composition are also relevant.
ownership and history: Addresses marks and statements of ownership (including inventory marks, seal impressions, ownership statements, waqf statements, book prices, bookplates, etc.), reading / study statements, book loan statements, transmission statements (ijāzāt, etc.), and evidence of critical apparatus (including collation statements, description of the exemplar, collation marks, marginal corrections, glosses, reference marks, etc.) as well as notes and marks left by former owners (such as birth or death notices, magic squares, kabīkaj invocations, formulas, inventories, etc.).
 See Gregory Pass, Descriptive cataloging of ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern manuscripts, Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2003.
 See Adam Gacek, "Appendix V. Describing the Manuscript," In Adam Gacek, Arabic manuscripts: a vademecum for readers, (Leiden: Brill, 2009): 333–338