The biblatex manual describes the number field as

The number of a journal or the volume/number of a book in a series. See also issue as well as §§ 2.3.7, 2.3.10, 2.3.11. With @patent entries, this is the number or record token of a patent or patent request.

The meaning for journal articles and patents makes sense to me. However, the number field applies to a number of other entries according to that manual. Specifically, all of the following:

| entry         | description           |
| article       | Journal issue number. |
| book          |                       |
| mvbook        |                       |
| inbook        |                       |
| collection    |                       |
| mvcollection  |                       |
| incollection  |                       |
| dataset       |                       |
| manual        |                       |
| patent        | Patent number.        |
| periodical    |                       |
| proceedings   |                       |
| mvproceedings |                       |
| inproceedings |                       |
| report        |                       |

For a book, how does number differ from volume? From the description, it sounds like they mean the same thing in this context. If so, why not just use volume?

What is the meaning for a manual entry? I'm citing a manual for some electronic equipment that declares a part number ("HP Document Part Number 03458-90033"). Would "03458-90033" be a correct usage of the number field in this context?

Finally, reports are often identified with a numeric identifier. And, frequently this just counts up from 1 where 1 is the first report published by the organization (e.g., application note 98). I presume this is what is meant by number in the context of a report. Is that correct?

1 Answer 1


For all @book- and @inbook-like entry types (@book, @mvbook, @collection, @mvcollection, @incollection, @proceedings, @(mv)proceedings, @inproceedings) number refers to the number or volume (the terminology here differs from case to case) of the relevant book in a series. volume on the other hand goes with maintitle and describes the number of the volume in a multi-volume work. For more on this distinction see Whether to use `number` or `volume` in the bib file for a book numbered in a series?, Omit Vol and Issue/No? and Series not appearing in Biber natbib APA inproceedings reference.

For @report, number goes with type and is a perfect fit for IDs like "working paper 120", "technical report 99-02".

For @manual, number goes with series in the standard styles (I'm guessing mainly because it is modelled on what the BibTeX base styles did, where @manual was quite probably more or less a printed book). That probably means that by default things might not quite work for "HP Document Part Number 03458-90033" which would be closer to the type+number setup of @report. But with some tweaks you can probably get things to look nice as well.

For @dataset, number also goes with series.

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