Is there a librarian in the house (alphabetization question re numeric titles)

OK, so I finally decided to do a little organizing around the house and decided to put all my DVDs in alphabetical order. I thought I knew all the standard rules (such as ignoring an intial “the” in a title), but I got a bit stumped when it came to movies that begin with numbers. For example, I have the following titles in my collection:
[ul][li]2001: A Space Odyssey[/li][li]2010: Odyssey Two[/li][li]12 Monkeys[/li][li]28 Days Later (just got that one, actually)[/ul]Do these go at the end of the alphabet in strict numerical order? Or do I stick them under the letter “T” as if the numbers were spelled out (e.g., “12 Monkeys” would come between “Terminator” and “Twister”)? Or do I put them under “T” but in strict numerical order after all the other titles?[/li]

Numeric titles go at the beginning, before A. Go to blockbuster and look for 8 mile…you’ll see.

This is a style issue, which means that there is no definitive answer. Just pick a style and use it consistently throughout.

The Chicago Manual of Style 13th edition has this to say:

Blockbuster, OTOH, puts all the numbered titles in a separate section before A. All the “1” titles are in order by size, then all the “2” titles, etc.

Again, do whatever will make you remember where you put them in the future.

The most common method is to alphabetize as though the number was spelled out. Thus:

(Twelve) Monkeys
Twelfth Night (as an example)
(Twenty-Eight) Days Later
(Two-Thousand and One): Space Odyssey
(Two-Thousand and Ten): Odyssey Two

“Twelfth Night” would come between “12 Monkeys” and “28 Days Later.”

However, some computerized schemes use the actual numbers and put them at the beginning of the listing in numerical order:

12 Monkeys
28 Days Later
2001: A Space Odyssey
2010: Odyssey Two
Twelfth Night

The first method is used more commonly, but the second is fine as long as your keep it consistently throughout your list.

The traditional rule is that numbers are placed before letters, and in true numeric order, but that’s muddled and mucked by out friend, the PC. On your computer those DVD’s would be organized as…

12 Monkeys
2001: A Space Odyssey
2010: Odyssey Two
28 Days Later

…In other others, as if the numbers were letters. (???)

That’s a mess, though, so I stick with the traditional way myself. Regardless, numbers should always go before letters.

Well, if you ever computerize your catalog, the listings are going to come out in the following order:
[ul][li]12 Monkeys[/li][li]2001: A Space Odyssey[/li][li]2010: Odyssey Two[/li][li]28 Days Later (just got that one, actually)[/li][li]Aardvardks on parade[/li][li]. . .[/li][li]Ziggurats I have loved[/ul][/li]
To make them come out in numeric sequence, you’d have to fiddle around with the program’s alternative sort sequences. (And, unless you are going to log them on an IBM mainframe that uses EBCDIC instead of ASCII, the numbers will precede the letters.)

Well, let already offer a re-traction… When in doubt, I’ll defer to the Chicago Manual of Style, rather than the way I was trained by a school librarian. :slight_smile:

Well, any thread that causes a lurker to delurk can’t be all bad (welcome to the board, NcCorduan!)

Thanks for the comments so far. I haven’t been to a video rental store for a long time, ever since I decided it was easier to simply buy a movie I like rather than having to deal with the hassles involved with returning the movie. I think I like the idea of putting all the numerical titles together rather than trying to integrate them into the regular titles, although I’m not sure I really want to put them all at the beginning of the collection…


professional book sorter here:

Numbers go before letters in this order:

0012 Monkeys
0028 Days Later
2001: A Space Odyssey
2010: Odyssey Two

(leading zeroes added for clarity).

I learned in an indexing class that there are several ways to alphebetize things, and not just issues with numbers. Numerical titles almost always come first in an index, BTW. When I worked at Suncoast, we put numbers as if they were spelled out (the two thousands in the Ts, etc) and nobody could ever find them. I’d put them first, in numerical order. Just be consistent. Nobody’s going to grade your DVD collection.

Of course, a more important indexing question is whether I should stick “Desperado” before “El Mariachi” (i.e., in strict alphabetical order) or after (i.e., in sequential order)…

In my collection at home I put all my James Bond movies in release order at the front of the list (making Dr. No into “007 I: Dr. No” in my mind). I believe the local Blockbuster does something similar, though they may just assume “007: Dr. No” and order them by the title.

Part of me wants to think of Desperado as “El Mariachi II” but I think most of the people who would rent Desperado would never know what El Mariachi was. Even more fun, since you don’t alphabetize on “The” you shouldn’t use “El” either. Technically El Mariachi should be in the Ms :slight_smile:

Of course, then you’ve got the boxed sets (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, for example). Does that go under “R” for “Raiders” or “I” for “Indiana Jones”?

It would go under A, for [url=]“Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Temple of Doom/The Last Crusade), The.”

I just made a database for movies I’ve seen. One problem with separating out numbers is that movie titles are inconsistent about whether they use numerals in the title or spell them out themselves. You’ll end up with “12 Monkeys” at the beginning of the list, and “Twelve O’Clock High” with the "T"s, and you’ll have to remember which is which. (Also, different movie encyclopedias may differ on whether a title was numerical or spelled out, and remakes of the same movie may also differ.) All in all, it’s better to alphabetize as if the number is spelled out - it’s easier to remember.

And anyway, what do you do with a movie like Se7en?

I always think of that one as as “logo title.” Let’s be honest, we say, “seven,” not “sesevenen.” Given then, I think it’s more of a visual gimmick than anything else and would alphabetize it accordingly.

Technically, and this time I shall make no retraction, every box set has a title and should be alphatized accordingly – though most distributors I’ve seen have an internal category (say, “Indiana Jones”) and but the everything that falls into that category in the spot in order justified by the title of the category. But alphabetized internally according to actual title, with box sets coming either at the beginning or end of it all.

Traditionally, we were to treat foreign articles like “el” or “il” or “le” just as we would English articles (by ignoring them). But that’s fallen largely out of fashion, and I’ve even seen a lot of indices recently wherein a name like, “de Soto” is alphabetized in the D’s. (!!!)

Of course, most of us Americans gave up proper alphabetization of “McNeil” and “MacGrath” long ago…

You could go buy a copy of the American Library Association’s Filing Rules.

Or you could just use one of the systems described above. Since librarians rarely have to file things anymore, I just let the computer do it.

Re: the PC thing, Windows XP actually correctly “alphabetizes” numbers: instead of 1, 10, 11, 2, you get 1, 2, 10, 11. At least, that’s how it is in Windows Explorer; third-party programs sometimes screw this up.

As others have said, ordering is mainly a matter of style or preference. Once you have picked a system, you can apply it in a database by using a sort name.

The sort name is a separate field that is used, instead of the name field, for sorting (duh!). This way you can have a table like this:

Aardvarks on Parade…Aardvarks on Parade
8 Mile…Eight Mile
The Maltese Falcon…Maltese Falcon, The
El Mariachi…Mariachi, El
12 Monkeys…Twelve Monkeys
2001: A Space Odyssey…Two Thousand One: A Space Odyssey
Ziggurats I Have Loved…Ziggurats I Have Loved

The downside is that you have to enter the info into the sort field. But you can have it default to the value of the name field and modify it only when necessary.

The upside is that you can implement any sort order conceivable.

I personally would prefer to have numerical titles spelled out, since it’s not always clear whether a number in a title is spelled out or not. The “numbers-before-A” ordering strikes me as a rather dumb mechanical method, especially when it places “28 Days” after “2001.”

And don’t get me started about the idiotic listings that put “The Mask” under “T.” AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!