How to Find a Publication Date on Journals

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A journal's publication date usually consists of the volume, number and month/year. Each volume of a journal series comprises a certain number of issues; the journal may publish two (semiannually), four (quarterly), six (bimonthly), or 12 (monthly) issues per year. Therefore, the volume number tells you how many years the journal has been published, and the number tells you which issue this is of the volume year. The month/year information indicates the month or month range (e.g., April – June 2010) during which that number of any given volume is published. You can spot this information in various places on the journal.

The publication information is often in small print, located just below the title or in a corner of the front cover of a journal.
  • Front or back cover of the journal
  • Spine of the journal
  • Table of contents of the journal

1 Look at the front cover

Look at the front cover to locate the volume, number, and month/year. It is often in a corner, near the top or bottom of the cover. Example: Volume 41/Number 2/April - June 2010.

The journal's spine often features the publication volume, number, month and year.

2 Turn the journal

Turn the journal to its side to view the spine (the strip that binds together the front and back covers). The information is often at the far right or left side of the spine. Example: Volume 102/Number 6/November - December 2011.

The Table of Contents usually contains a journal's publication date either above or below the list of articles.

3 Open the journal

Open the journal to the Table of Contents, usually located on the first or second page. Find the journal's publication date above or below the Table of Contents. Example: February 2010/Volume 89/Number 2.

4 Search the back cover

Search the back cover of the journal if you are unable to locate the publication date in the locations described above. In a few cases, the publisher might print the Table of Contents on the back cover.

  • If the journal does not clearly state which is the "volume" and which is the "number," it is likely that the larger number is the volume and the smaller one is the number. The information is also sometimes printed like this: 41 (2)/April -- June 2010. In this case, the volume is located outside the parentheses and the number is found inside the parentheses.
  • If you are viewing the journal online, you will be able to find the journal's publication date by clicking on "Current Issue." Example: October 2010; 45(4).

Presently in Philadelphia, Melissa Rose has been writing and editing since 2002. She was awarded the Phillips Foundation's Young Journalist Scholarship as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas and she holds a Master of Arts degree in English from Rutgers University.