Outline of the Categories of Information
Building a Common Framework for Catalogue Entries
Implementing a Common Framework
Organization of the Guidelines
Subjects/Built Works
People/Corporate Bodies
Geographic Locations
Bibliographic Sources
Group Entries
Volume (Sketchbook) Entry
Item Entries
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A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings

Groups/Items Categories:

Physical Characteristics

Technique, Medium, and Support Description
Inscription Description
Scale Description
Dimensions Description
Unit of Measurement

These categories record the physical attributes of a document and the way it was made. [1] Dimensions, scale, watermarks, materials, and processes can be recorded separately for retrieval, while a more synthetic description can be made in the respective descriptive categories: Technique, Medium, Support Description, Inscription Description, Scale Description, and Dimensions Description.

In the case of group cataloguing, the information in these categories should summarize the most representative physical attributes of the items within the aggregate.

None of the Physical Characteristic categories are included in core cataloguing because this level of description is not useful for retrieval for all types of documents. In some institutions, such as photographic archives, only surrogates are available for cataloguing. In these cases, information on watermarks or medium may not be obtainable. In addition, many items, such as diazotypes, may not have enough unique physical attributes for retrieval.

For other types of documents, however, capturing the physical qualities of an item is critical to research. For example, physical evidence often leads to assertions of dating and attribution. Additionally, the descriptive categories in this section help distinguish very similar items from one another, as in the case of a series of 17th-century Italian drawings for a design of a catacomb, in which the only difference among entries for the items is the color of wash (brown, gray, etc.).

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Category: Technique, Medium, and Support

A brief description of technique, medium, and support. The description may include aspects of texture, manufacture, watermarks, ground, shape, substance, color, and condition. For multiples (i.e., prints), the state, number, and edition may be included.

In describing the physical nature of documents, it is often the relationship or combination of technique, medium, and support that is of use to researchers. While it is important not to mix these separate concepts in a category meant to serve retrieval functions, a display or note category can bring the concepts together for a succinct, unambiguous description. Moreover, other physical attributes, such as condition, color, and irregularities, overlays, or secondary supports, can be included in the description.


Pen with red, yellow, and blue washes and some pencil; overlay with grey and yellow washes.

Pencil, overdrawn in ink.

Pen and brown ink over black chalk (rubbed drawing) and graphite, with underscoring.

Pen, black and brown ink; graphite and stylus underdrawing; graphite pentimenti; yellow, green, and pink watercolour; and grey and brown washes on laid paper

Hand-coloured gelatin silver print with local application of varnish.

For groups and volumes, techniques, media, and supports may be summarized.


Most of the 94 leaves are in pen, pencil, wash, and watercolor.

The following is a partial list of descriptors for physical conditions, often used in combination with other terms and phrases:

added margin

Paper added at margin or margins (by someone other than the artist) to extend the sheet.


A piece added to a support by the artist, for example, a strip 5 cm wide added to a lower margin, on which the artist has continued the image.


The area around the image, for example, an adhered gilt paper border.


Additional paper adhered over a primary support in order to redraw.


Marked with an unintentional fold (compare folded).


Where part of the support has been removed, usually the part along an edge, with the intention of making the support smaller.


Separated into parts with a sharp-edged instrument.

cutout image

Negative or positive (silhouetted) image.


Cut into parts, mounted on a secondary cloth support and folded.


When the support has been intentionally folded, as with an extremely large sheet.


A small (relative to the original) portion of an originally larger support.


Drawing frame designed or fabricated by the artist or architect. Characterized by material, shape, dimensions.


Used to indicate that a primary support is attached to a secondary support at one end so that the former can be lifted up (compare laid down).


Section of paper removed and a substitute piece adhered.

laid down

Used to indicate that a primary support is fully attached to a secondary support (compare hinged).


A missing part, as with cropped margins, a slit, a cut, a torn part, a ragged edge, etc


Hinged addition to show alternate drawing.

pieced support

Sheets joined to make a single support, for example, a support composed of two sheets joined vertically, in the center.

secondary support

Surface onto which the primary (drawing) support may be adhered. It may be characterized by color, manufacture, texture, shape, dimensions.


When the item is not rectangular, use the following terminology to describe the shape:


A long, narrow cut, tear, or opening.


The material upon which media have been applied to make images. For architectural models, the materials used.


Having had parts separated by ripping.


Use cropped.

single occurrence

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Category: Technique

  1. The instrument(s) with which the medium was applied or manipulated, such as pen, pencil, crayon, brush, metalpoint, stump.
  2. The method(s) used to apply media to a support, including reproductive processes and techniques by which an image is transferred from one support to another, e.g., drawing, ozalid, drypoint, engraving, pricking, pouncing, stenciling, squaring, counterproof, tracing.

This can be an important retrieval category. For instance, researchers may identify possible models for prints by searching for drawings with squaring. Information about technique can also be used to distinguish original items from reproductions and multiples.

Technique and medium are frequently used as a means of classifying items into broad types, e.g., photographs, watercolors, paintings, drawings, prints, blueprints, stencils. These broad types are recorded under the category Document Type (under Document Classification, one of the top level Groups/Items categories).

Technique and Medium both refer to an image or images. The technique and medium of texts such as titles, annotations, and signatures can be recorded in Inscription Description.

When using the AAT, terms may be drawn from Tools and Equipment (TH), especially [image-making equipment]; from Visual Works (VC), especially [drawings by technique]; and from Information Forms (VW).[2]

Suggested terminology and definitions are as follows:

1. Instruments: Tools or vehicles used in drawing, painting, or copying. [3]

    air brush An implement with a nozzle, an attached reservoir of liquid medium, and a thin hose leading to a source of compressed air. The spray, blown through a nozzle, creates a smooth gradation of tones and colors. The air brush has replaced the atomizer sprayer (two hinged hollow legs, one for drawing ink from a bottle, the other for blowing the ink manually onto the support).

    brush Animal hairs, bristle, or synthetic fibers bound and attached to a handle. The point may be tapered or blunt, stiff or flexible, thick or thin.

    cartoon Full-scale drawing made at the final stage of preparation of a painting, tapestry, or stained glass.

    drawing guides Instruments used to assist the draftsman in making lines or shapes.

    • carpenter's rule, straight edge, parallel rule, t-square Guides for drawing straight lines.

    • compass A mechanical drawing instrument for inscribing circles and arcs, consisting of two hinged legs or a rod with sliding points. One leg or point holds graphite or ruling pen, the other fixes the center of the circle to be circumscribed.

    • set square An instrument with a straight edge that can be set at any desired angle with the edge of a drawing board.

    • template, architectural curves, French curves, flexible curves A pattern or guide for drawing shapes and symbols. A flat sheet in which holes of a specific shape or shapes have been cut or stamped out. The outline is drawn onto a support by following the contour of the perforated shape. Modern flexible curves have a lead core with steel stiffeners sheathed in a metal, rubber, or plastic casing.

    eraser Material used to remove a variety of media.

    • bread crumbs Used to rub away graphite or remove or soften watercolors.

    • cloth or skin (leather) Used to wipe or blot wet medium to reduce or remove concentration of medium or to efface dry medium such as charcoal.

    • composition gum or rubber erasers Natural or synthetic rubber compounds formed into blocks or cylinders, used for the removal of media from a surface by friction or abrasion. May contain abrasive material.

    • featherUsed to brush away or remove medium.

    • granulated erasing compound Synthetic rubber compound in the form of powder contained in a looselywoven cloth bag that allows powder to sift through the meshes to remove medium when rubbed.

    • liquid eraser 1) Solvent that removes drawn lines; 2) Opaque white that covers drawn lines.

    • sandpaper Paper coated on one side with sand or other abrasive material, for dry removal of media by abrasion.

    • scraper An instrument such as a point, knife, or razor that removes medium from the support by scraping or picking.

    • sponge Natural or synthetic elastic, porous material used to absorb excess wet medium from support.

    • vinyl Placed over medium and rubbed; medium is removed by means of static electricity. mechanical pencil holder A cylinder into which a medium such as a rod of graphite or silver is inserted and held by various means. It usually is contrived so that a fresh point can be extended at will.

    pen A pointed, relatively rigid instrument for drawing and writing with ink.

    • ball point pen A pen having as the writing point a small ball that rotates in a socket and inks itself by contact with an inner magazine of ink; makes an even line. Balls can be steel, nylon, or tungsten carbide.

    • calligraphic drawing pen (lettering pen) Specially shaped metal point, varying from extremely broad and flat to very narrow and pointed, that is fitted into a holder usually of lightweight wood. Used to produce wide or shaded lines.

    • dotted line pen Specialized instrument for technical and working drawings. Interchangeable wheels produce a variety of dotted, broken, and chain-dotted lines.

    • fountain pen A metal-pointed pen containing a reservoir that automatically feeds the split writing point with the ink, making a variable line.

    • marker (fountain brush, felt tip pen) Pens with a variety of pointed or blunt felt, nylon, or fiber tips. Ink, usually impermanent, is contained in the shaft of the marker.

    • metal pen A small, thin, sometimes cylindrical section with a tapered metal nib split point. May be permanently fitted into a holder or may be removable so that a single holder can be used with a variety of interchangeable points. Produces a thin line of consistent regularity. Depending on its fabrication and metal, it may be flexible or rigid.

    • quill pen A pen that is cut, trimmed, and slit from the wing feathers of fowl and other birds, e.g., goose, swan, raven, crow. Principal instrument of medieval scribes. Produces a line of variable thickness.

    • reed pen Common reed (Phrogmiles communis), hollow-barreled grass, and various bamboos or canes. It is less flexible and thus less adaptable than a quill to the requirements of graceful calligraphy. It also has a blunter stroke than quill; the stroke may break into two parallel lines.

    • ruling pen A metal point made of two adjustable parallel blades that control the thickness of line and between which a drop of ink is placed. It is either integral with or can be attached to a short handle or compass. It is used to inscribe lines of uniform thickness and is usually guided by a straight edge, French curve, or template.

    • stylus Blunt pointed instrument of horn, ivory, hardwood, or metal for scoring parchment or paper.

    • technical pen (Rapidograph®], stylograph, needlegraphic pen) Fountain pen with a tubular, needle-like point. The ink supply is controlled by a check valve and released only when pressure is placed on the point. The flow of ink is measured and regular, allowing precise, even lines to be drawn.

    stamp Rubber or plastic molded to form a name or image of any kind, usually attached to a wooden handle. Used in conjunction with a pad saturated with ink for stamping onto support.

    stump (tortillon) Cigar-shaped roll of paper or leather pointed at one or both ends, used to blend dry media such as chalk or charcoal.

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2. Methods: means by which a medium is applied with an instrument to a support.

    camera lucida An optical device for projecting an accurate image on a surface. It consists of a prism on an adjustable stand. The draftsman sets the prism between his eye and the paper and the object is reflected into his eye at the same time as light from the paper so that he can trace its outline. The size of the image may be varied by adjusting the distances.

    computer plotting Drawing on a computer screen using coordination and preprogrammed commands. There are also technical devices ("mouse,'' tablet) used manually as aides in drawing images. Images can be printed on a computer plotter in multiple copies.

    copying Method of duplicating a drawing, print, or photograph.

    drawing Manual or computer plotted creation of images.

    drawing (manual) Images made on a support by hand manipulation of instruments and media.

    pantograph, (enlarging, reducing, and copying with mechanical aids) A device consisting of four rigid, flat bars that are jointed into a rectangle. The ends of the strip overlap and can be adjusted according to the scale of the copy designer; the end of one strip is securely anchored to the drawing table. There is a tracing point at one joint and a drawing instrument, usually a graphite holder, at an opposite end. As the tracing point is passed over the original, the four bars move in unison and the copy is drawn on the sheet of paper that has been appropriately positioned on the drawing board.

    pouncing A copying technique in which the lines of the original drawing or cartoon are pricked, and a pounce bag (usually a square of wire mesh cloth in which a quantity of pounce (commonly chalk or charcoal) has been wrapped and tied) is gently tapped along the perforations. The powder passes through the tiny punctures, duplicating the pattern on the new surface.

    pricking Puncturing a drawing or cartoon through to another support beneath it with a needle or a perforating wheel in order to transfer the image (sometimes not used for transfer but to allow light to shine through to create a special effect).

    printmaking processes (multiple items) Methods of creating multiple images. These are all methods of reproducing an image, but not all are methods of creating one (e.g., blueprints/diazos are made from film positive of an original image). Also, they should be called printmaking processes (since there are many other printing processes).

    • blueprint A blue negative image print (blue background with white lines) on iron-sensitized paper made by contact printing through a translucent positive copy. Through small changes in chemical ingredients, the blueprint method of reproduction can be adapted to produce brownprints, greenprints, etc. Blueprints have been almost entirely replaced by diazo process prints. (The term blueprint is often misused as a generic term for diazo prints.)

    • diazo print (also known as whiteprint, ozalid) A positive image print made on diazo salt-sensitized paper by contact printing and exposing with ammonia, through a translucent positive copy original. Through changes in chemical ingredients, this method can be adapted to produce blue line, red line, green line, black line, etc. prints. It has almost entirely replaced the blueprint.

    • drypoint An engraving in which the design, instead of being cut into the plate with a burin, is scratched into the surface with a hard steel ""pencil.''

    • electrostatic transfer (xerography) The variable-sized (reduced, enlarged, or same-size) image of the original is formed electrostatically in powder on a photoconductive surface before transfer and heat sealing to a variety of supports.

    • engraving The process of incising a design in hard material, often a metal plate (usually copper), usually with a burin.

    • etching A kind of engraving in which the design is incised in a layer of wax or varnish on a copper plate. The parts of the plate left exposed are then etched (slightly eaten away) by the acid in which the plate is immersed after incising.

    • hectograph(also known as spirit/alcohol duplication) A single or multicolored copy (blue/violet, red, and/or green) produced using aniline dye on a gelatin base. The dye is transferred on contact with paper moistened with alcohol.

    • intaglio A graphic technique in which the design is incised so that the impression made is in relief.

    • lithograph A planographic printing process in which copies are pulled on a special lithopress from a flat surface that has been sensitized by chemical means so that the printing ink adheres to the design areas only and is repelled by the blank areas.

    • photosensitive transfer Transfer of a variable-sized (reduced, enlarged, or same-size) image directly to a print paper coated with zinc oxide photoconductor. The image is developed using either a dry or liquid method. Output by direct photocopiers is limited to opaque supports.

    • photostat A high-contrast black and white print, either positive or negative, produced optically on photosensitive paper without using film. Because of the dimensional stability of photostats (providing a stable support is used), they can be used for accurate enlargement or reduction.

    • sepia print (modern usage) A type of diazo print producing a brown image contact print (the original is placed face down) on a translucent support (vellum or film). It provides the capability of making further copies, with the option of changing or correcting the image in process.

    • stencil An image made by cutting a design from a support. A color substance is dabbed, pounced, sprayed, or rubbed through the openings of the stencil onto multiple supports. Or the design is repeated by moving the stencil over a surface or support. The serigraphic printing process is based on stenciling.

    • Van Dyke (Maduro) A two-step process producing a brown, correct-reading positive image. The first step results in a negative mirror image; the second step is a contact print on a support made translucent by oiling (Van Dyke paper). The image can be changed or corrected between the first and second step by inserting an opaque medium over the areas to be changed and redrawing. The Van Dyke process is complex, and the final product deteriorates over time. The process has become obsolete with the introduction of modern sepia printing.

    squaring A grid drawn or printed on the support as an aid to transferring the image, usually enlarging it, to another support.

    tracing Making direct same-size copies by tracing over the original with an implement through a thin transparent or semitransparent overlay.

    transferring Making direct same-size copies by rubbing the back of the original with charcoal or a dry pigment and placing the coated side on another surface so that the original lines, when traced with a pointed implement such as a stylus, transfer the charcoal or pigment to a new surface. An intermediary sheet or carbon paper can be used (in place of pigment on the reverse of the original).

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Category: Medium

Materials applied to a support to form images.

In combination with other categories Medium supplies useful information. For example, a chronological list of items by media could show trends in the use of media; or a list by Purpose (Broad), Maker, and Medium could help determine whether a draftsman used specific media for given purposes, such as red chalk to record built works and black chalk for design and construction drawings.

If color is included, it should be the color as it exists now, since it is rarely possible to determine the original color.

Many items carry more than one medium, so this category may be repeated. For groups and volumes, the number of media may be large. If time does not permit listing them, a summary may be given in the Technique, Medium, and Support Description.

When using the AAT, terms may be drawn from the Materials hierarchy (MT). Note that some AAT terms include color, while others do not.


black chalk, red bole

ink, Conte crayon

Suggested terminology and definitions are as follows:

1. Dry Media: media applied in a dry state.

    chalk A soft drawing material in a stick, composed of one of various materials.

    • fabricated chalk (pastel) Pressed sticks made of dry natural or dry synthetic pigments mixed with water-soluble binding medium; available in extensive variations of pigmentation, texture, and hardness.

    • natural chalk Clay-based substances extracted from natural deposits, sawed and cut into sticks. Color varies depending on mineral content (red chalk / hematite; black chalk / carbonaceous shale); white chalk / calcite (calcium carbonate) or soapstone (talc); other (gypsum). Little used after early 19th century.

    charcoal Carbonated organic black material (e.g., wood, vines, ivory, or bone in natural form) compressed into a stick, or sheathed in wood as a "pencil'' in different grades of hardness for a finer line (for instance, carbon pencil or charcoal pencil).

    crayon Pressed sticks made of pigments mixed with an oily, waxy, or greasy binding medium, or with a combination of water-soluble and fatty binders, available in extensive variations of pigmentation, texture, and hardness. Used mainly after 1800.

    • Conte crayon Brand name of crayon consisting of a compressed compound of pigments and a grease-free binder, usually in stick form (or wood-encased). Colors are orange-red (sanguine), brown, three grades of black, gray, and white. Similar to chalk and hard pastels in texture and application.

    • lithographic crayon Composed of lampblack and a combination of fatty acids that may include wax, soap, spermaceti, shellac, tallow, beeswax, or linseed oil, formed into cylinders in a variety of degrees of hardness. Used for making a drawing directly on a lithographic stone or plate.

    • wax crayon A variety of pigments with paraffin wax binder formed into cylinders.

    graphite (imprecisely called pencil) A black, crystalline carbon (mineral or synthetic) compressed with a binder such as clay into a rod and usually encased in wood; available in varying degrees of hardness and values of gray.

    metalpoint A metallic stylus or metal wire inserted in a mechanical holder used to draw on a support prepared with a ground. Various metals are bismuth, brass, bronze, copper, gold, lead, platinum, silver, and tin.

    pencil Casing of drawing material (see graphite; popular usage of pencil denotes a cased, pointed drawing material, usually graphite, but this is not a preferred usage of the term).

    color pencil Pigments compressed with a binder into a rod, usually encased in wood.

    grease pencil Black or colored crayon, usually in the form of a rod, with a peel-off paper casing, usually used to write on glass, china, and other surfaces to which other pencils and crayons will not adhere.

2. Wet Media: Media applied in a wet state.

    gum arabic A gum exuded by various African trees of the genus Acacia, used in the preparation of emulsions.

    ink Extremely finely ground pigment or dye combined with an aqueous or glycol binding medium, usually applied with a pen. In most cases a positive determination of the ink type can be achieved only by chemical analysis. Since this is rarely possible, identification by color is usually preferred.

    • bistre ink Brown ink. Composed of wood root, water, and sometimes gum arabic. Color ranges from golden to gray-brown.

    • carbon ink(Chinese ink, India ink) Black ink made by combining carbon with water and gum arabic, along with various waterproofing agents (borax, shellac, resin).

    • chromatic ink Inks of mineral colors or animal, vegetable, or chemical dyes. May be solvent- or water-based.

    • iron gall ink Combination of galls, ferrous sulphate, water, or wine, and may include gum arabic or carbons. Violet-gray to brown-black in color. Turns brown upon aging.

    • printing and lithographic inks Ground pigments suspended in drying oils and varnishes.

    • sepia ink Brown, semitransparent pigment obtained from the ink sacs of various cephalopodous animals, principally the cuttlefish. Rarely used before the 18th century.

    paint Liquid medium made of various materials, usually applied with a brush.

    • acrylic paints Pigments dispersed in a vehicle made from a polymethyl methacrylate solution in mineral spirits.

    • alkyd resin-based paints Paints using a vehicle composed of a synthetic resin made by the esterfication of polyhydric alcohol with a polybasic acid. Industrial paints usually are oil-modified alkyds with drying oils such as safflower. They dry speedily and uniformly.

    • metallic pigments Gold, silver, etc.; can be incorporated into any paint.

    • oil-based paints Pigments dispersed in linseed oil or another vegetable drying oil to a smooth paste consistency, sometimes with stabilizers such as wax or aluminum stearate, to give a buttery consistency.

    • polymer paints Pigment dispersed in an acrylic polymer resin or acrylic-vinyl copolymer emulsion. The mixture dries very rapidly and the particles of resin coalesce, producing a continuous, adherent film that is tough and brilliant in color.

    • tempera Pigments dispersed in a water-miscible emulsion vehicle, usually an emulsion of egg yolk and water; casein, oil, glue, or gum arabic emulsions also used.

    varnish A solution of a resin in a volatile solvent that, brushed or sprayed on a surface, dries to a hard, matte or glossy, usually transparent film, which serves as a protective and/or decorative coating.

    wash Diluted ink or watercolor applied with brush (see also watercolor below).

    watercolor Refined organic or mineral pigments suspended in water-soluble gum arabic solutions, transparent when applied.

    • opaque watercolor (gouache, body color) Watercolor with addition of opaque whites, or made from opaque inorganic pigments and binding medium.

    • opaque white Lead, zinc, or titanium white pigment suspended in gum arabic water. (Chinese white is conventionally only zinc white.)

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Category: Support

The material to which media have been applied to make images, e.g., laid paper. Materials used for architectural models may also be recorded in this category.

This category is designed to include the following types of information about supports: substance or composition (e.g., linen), form (e.g., bristol board), or function (e.g., graph paper). Other information, such as texture, color, shape, and ground, should be recorded in Technique, Medium, and Support Description.

Terminology: When using the AAT, the appropriate sections of the Materials (MT) hierarchy may be used. [4]

Suggested terminology and definitions are as follows:

    bark The exterior, dead cellular covering of woody roots and stems, beaten and smoothed into a sheet.

    board A generic term for stiff and thick "paper'' which may range from a "card'' of 0.2 mm in thickness to 5 mm or more, and vary in composition from pure rag to wood, straw, and other substances. Often built up by laminating or pressing plies together, thus, 2 ply, 3 ply, etc.

    • Foam-Cor ® Monsanto polystrene core sandwiched between two layers of white clay-coated cardboard.

    • illustration board(bristol board, composite board, railroad board, strathmore) Laminated or solid card (wood pulp) board with a surface of paper (of varying quality or color).

    • Masonite ® Hard wallboard with a smooth surface made by exploding wood fibers with steam and reuniting them under great pressure.

    • mat board Board of lower quality or thinner weight than illustration board, or acid free museum-quality board in different plies. Can be obtained in various colors and surface textures.

    scratchboard (scraperboard) A black-coated cardboard, incised or scraped with a pointed or sharp instrument so that the white surface below shows where the upper surface has been removed.

    drafting cloth (linen) Linen or cotton coated on one or both sides with starch or a mixture of starch and gelatin, producing a support of even transparency and strength.

    film (polyester/acetate) Clear tracing film made from polyester (Mylar ®) or acetate. May be coated with matte lacquer of gelatin on one or two sides. Matte/frosted film can have one or both sides roughed by chemical or mechanical abrasion. Available in different thicknesses.

    glass An amorphous, inorganic, usually transparent or translucent substance consisting of a mixture of silicates, borates, or phosphates, manufactured into sheets.

    ground A layer of white or tinted liquid, powder, pumice, or chalk laid on the support after manufacture to provide "tooth'' for scratch work, metalpoint, or other medium, or to supply a toned middle value. [Note: ground has another meaning in the context of etching, where it refers to the material used to cover the metal plate.]

    ivory Hard, creamy white modified dentine that composes an animal tusk, sliced into sheets and smoothed.

    paper A thin sheet material made of cellulose pulp, derived mainly from wood, rags, and certain grasses, processed into flexible leaves or rolls by deposit from an aqueous suspension.

    • blueprint paper (brownprint paper) An iron-sensitized paper used for making diazo prints.

    • China paper (India paper) Soft, unsized fiber paper (bamboo fiber is commonly used). Can be bleached white, or can range from pale yellow to a deep yellow or tan. Term has historically been used for Japanese papers.

    • detail paper Smooth, greaseproof paper sufficiently translucent for copying, tracing, and – depending on its light transmission– for diazo reproduction.

    • diazo paper A diazo salt-sensitized paper used for making diazo prints.

    • drawing paper (including watercolor paper) Hand- or machine-made laid or wove paper, made of rag or purified pulp. Available in a wide variety of weights and surface textures.

    • graph paper Paper ruled into small squares or otherwise calibrated for drawing graphs, plotting curves, or making diagrams.

    • Japan paper, Japan tissue Hand- or machine-made long-fibered papers. Kozo, Gampi, and Mitsumata fibers are most common. Usually left unsized, it is softer in texture and surface than western papers.

    • laid paper Papers in which a grid of closely spaced fine parallel lines and more widely spaced heavier lines perpendicular to them is visible when the paper is held to the light. The lines derive from the wires of the screen or mold on which the hand-made papers are produced, and from the dandy roll for machine-made papers (compare with wove paper).

    • layout paper Sheets of paper having lines printed or ruled both horizontally and vertically to produce pica squares; cross-rule sheets usually 8'' |m~ 11'' or 17'' |m~ 22'' in size. Used for making layouts, e.g., typographers' designs, arrangement of typefaces, illustrations, etc.

    • Newsprint Machine-made paper made chiefly from ground wood. Light gray to brown in color.

    • pith paper (rice paper) A thin, crisp material made from the pith of small trees (Tetrapanax panyriferum or Aralia papyrifera).

    • prepared paper (coated paper, enamel paper, surface paper) Formed by the addition, on one or both sides, of an inert pigment such as clay in an adhesive binder like glue or casein, making it even and smooth and capable of taking a high degree of finish.

    • tracing paper A transparent sheet used to make a reproduction by tracing the original through the sheet.

      • natural tracing paper (swallow) Tracing paper made from 100% cotton rag.

      • transfer paper Specially coated papers for transferring designs to lithographic printing surfaces.

      • vellum (Clearprint R, crystalene, albanene) Tracing paper made from 100% cotton rag and chemically or oil treated, giving it a hard surface and durability (U.S. usage). The oil in older vellums will dry out over time, leaving the paper less translucent and in some cases yellowed.

      • white tracing paper Relatively high-quality tracing paper, white in color (compare to yellow tracing paper).

      • yellow tracing paper An inexpensive tissue paper with good transparency.

    • wove paper A felted sheet produced on a finely woven screen so tightly meshed that the wire marks may not be visible in the paper. The process originated in England about 1750 and spread throughout Europe by the end of the century (compare with laid paper).

    • wrapping paper (kraft paper) Thick paper which does not absorb moisture easily. Kraft paper is brown; other types are often white or red as well as brown. Smooth and hard.

    papyrus Thin, flexible material made from the pith of the papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus). The pith is cut into strips which are then laid at right angles to each other and pressed.

    parchment (skin) Untanned animal skin, usually of a sheep or a goat, processed (treated with lime, scraped, and stretched) so that it has a smooth, pale, and almost luminous surface. The term vellum has traditionally been defined as the skin of a young animal, but parchment is the preferred term, as vellum is also the name of a tracing paper.

    primary support Principal carrier for the image; may be adhered to a secondary sheet for additional support or storage.

    support The material upon which media have been applied to make images, or, in the case of architectural models, the materials composing the model.

    synthetic support (Plexiglas®, Perspex ®, Lucite ®) Polymer resin formed into sheets of varying thickness, transparency, and color.

    wood Hard fibrous substance of the stems and branches of trees, sliced into sheets and smoothed.

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Category: Watermark

A mark on paper produced by pressure from a projecting design in the paper mold or dandy roll.

This category allows for retrieval of items by the presence or absence of watermarks. As a retrieval category it will be most useful in conjunction with others, e.g., in searches for all drawings by a given maker that contain watermarks. Watermarks may be used as evidence to identify the paper manufacturer and date of manufacture of an item. This information can in turn be evidence for attribution and for determining date and place of execution.

Watermarks may be described in Technique, Medium, and Support Description.

Suggested terminology for this category:
no watermarks

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single occurrence

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Category:Inscription Description

Handwritten letters, numbers, or words that appear on an item, such as signatures, dates, captions, dimensions, and client names. An inscription is created at the same time as the image, and is an integral part of the item. This category is used to describe and/or transcribe inscriptions. It can also be used to record their medium, maker, and location. Glosses, or inscriptions added later, can also be recorded in this category. An inscription on a Subject (see Subjects/ Built Works) (e.g., an inscription on a building that is depicted in a drawing) should not be included in this category, but in Subjects/ Built Works Description. In these cases, the inscription is part of the representation of the structure depicted, just as any other detail would be.

Inscriptions may identify the maker, date, subject, scale, and other aspects of items. The following inscribed information is of special significance: signature; date of execution; identification of subject/built work (including its geographic location); measured dimensions; notations on material and color; identification of the client and/or builder. Information about the inscriptions themselves may be worth noting: location on the item, language, author, date of inscription, medium, and type of script and/or alphabet used.


Title and dedication have been burnished clean from plate 1, with a new title engraved by a late 19th century hand: Projet pour une ville / 1820

If an inscription functions as a title for the item, it should also be transcribed in the category for Inscribed Title (under Group/Item Identification, one of the top level categories in Groups/Items).

In the case of groups, volumes, and heavily inscribed items, inscriptions may be summarized.


Many of the sheets are inscribed on the recto with titles, names of the rooms, and scales; on the verso, most have inscribed titles and numerical annotations with the initials and flourish of Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin (Paris, 1739–1811). One drawing has Chalgrin's initials and flourish on the recto.
Inscribed on the title page; dedicatory preface on page 4; various inscriptions in Latin and Spanish on other pages.

Some drawings signed.

It is recommended that transcriptions begin with an indication of the type of inscription and its location.


Signed lower left: G. Belloni / PARIGI; dated verso: gen.1890

It is recommended that transcriptions be complete. If not, an ellipsis ( ...) may indicate omissions. The original word order, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation should be preserved. Line breaks may be indicated with slashes (/). To clarify abbreviations used in the inscription, letters may be added within brackets.


Inscribed center: Dividere un chierchio in p[arte]/3-e in Esagono

Illegible portions of text may be indicated by a line within square brackets [____].


Inscribed verso, lower right: totum.est b[raccia]. [7______]minuta.36

Comments also may be placed within brackets.


signed and dated verso: B.F. Barron / 187[9?]; inscribed in a later hand, lower right: drawn by Bartholomew McDonad[sic]

collector's mark
color notes
details labeled
dimensions given
iconograph notation
inscribed dimensions
inscribed stamp
location of subject
materials labeled
office address
parts labeled
place of execution
rooms labeled
rubber stamped
title block

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Category: Inscription

This category indicates the presence or absence of inscriptions.

See Inscription Description. This category allows retrieval by presence or absence of inscriptions or of inscribed items in combination with other categories.

Typical terminology: inscribed, no inscriptions.

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Category: Scale Description

A description of a scale, defined as an indication of the ratio of two units of measurement that allow the size of the subject depicted to be related to the size of the proposed or actual built work. This information may include the type of scale, unit of measurement, location on the support, and medium.

Common types of scale are defined as follows:

    Bar scale: a scale represented by a line or bar subdivided into units.

    Numeric scale: a scale represented by numbers and text, for example, 3/4 scale; scale, 4 feet to one inch; 1:50.

    Converted scale: a scale converting the units of a bar scale or numeric scale into another set of units, for example, 30 palmi romani = 114 mm.

    Reconstructed scale: 1) a scale deduced from dimensions indicated on the item, such as dimensions of a door frame; 2) a scale otherwise inferred from images or information on the item, such as an indication of the size of a human being in relation to the structure depicted.

    Dimetric scale: when one image is drawn to two scales.

    Trimetric scale: when one image is drawn to three scales.

Comments, conversions, and clarifications may be included in the description, but they should be between brackets.


scale [in pieds]: 1 ft = just under 13/16 in.

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Category: Scale

Indicates the presence or absence of scale(s).

See Scale Description. Information in this category does not include the type of scale, which is noted in Scale Description.

Typical terminology: scale, no scale

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Category: Dimensions Description

Expresses the dimensions of the support in the form of text, combining height, width, depth, unit of measurement, and any comments or qualifications necessary (i.e., as this information would appear in a catalogue entry).

This category provides information about dimensions in a form that is easy to read. It is not meant to be used for retrieval.


Sheets vary from 20.3 to 49 cm in height and from 31.6 to 108.8 cm in width.

If the item is irregularly shaped, the description may include the range of dimensions, in the following order: left, then right; top, then bottom (of the sheet, folio, or page). Additional qualifications or commentary may be noted.

Depth also applies to three-dimensional items such as albums, sketchbooks, and models.


72/70 x 52/50 mm

circular (9 1/2 in. diameter)

445 x 350 mm, cut to follow the pointed shape of the roof

Recommended format: height by width, followed by the unit of measurement. The image(s) may be used for orientation. Some repositories also measure the thickness of supports, in which case depth follows width.

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Category: Height

The measurement of the support(s) along the left-hand side, or vertical dimension.

This and the following category answer an occasional need to retrieve items by measurements, in order, for instance, to reconstruct dispersed sets, albums, and sketchbooks, or to answer questions concerning paper history.

It is suggested that this category contain only a number. The unit of measurement can be expressed in a separate category to allow for automatic conversions.

access point
format-controlled: numeric
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Category: Width

The measurement of the support(s) along the top or bottom, or the horizontal dimension.

See Height.

See Height.

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format-controlled: numeric
single occurrence

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Category: Depth

The measurement of the support(s) by thickness. In most instances, this category will be used for volumes (albums and sketchbooks) and models.

See Height.

See Height.

access point
format-controlled: numeric
single occurrence

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Category: Unit of Measurement

The unit or module of measurement (centimeters, inches, etc.) employed for the dimensions as given in the preceding categories.

This is a separate category to enable automatic conversions from the numeric expressions in Height, Width, and Depth from one system of measurement to another.

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