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You may really need an ISNI.

Here’s why.


ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) is the ISO certified global standard number for identifying the millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution. This includes researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more. It is part of a family of international standard identifiers, such as DOI, ISAN, ISBN, ISRC, ISSN, ISTC, and ISWC that identify works, recordings, products and rights holders in all repertoires.

ISNI helps to:

  • Disambiguate, or differentiate common names (Richard Smith, John Lewis)
  • Gather together different spellings of the same name (Dostoyevsky/Dostoevski)
  • Streamline the royalty process
  • Ensure correct credit/attribution

You can use ISNI to create accurate search results and increase discovery. Bowker currently sends ISNIs to Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and other large retailers and websites.


If you have contributed to the creation of intellectual property of any kind, your name is eligible for ISNI assignment. Musicians, actors, publishers, film studios, recording labels, production companies, directors, producers, sound engineers, researchers and scientists, scriptwriters, key grips, opera singers, historical figures, legislators, heads of state, politicians, distributors, and visual artists all qualify for ISNI registration.


A useful example is Brian May. He played lead guitar for the legendary band Queen. But he also has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. AND he is a collector of old stereoscopic photographs. There’s a lot of content on the web that refers to Brian May. ISNI helps ensure that references to this content are all brought together on the same page, so someone who might be surprised that a rock legend is also an astrophysicist could confirm that information. That’s because both Brian Mays have the same ISNI – and are therefore the same person.

Another example is two contributors who share a name. How can you differentiate the work of Hong Wu, the economist, from the work of Hong Wu, the geneticist? Or Hong Wu, the art critic? Or Hong Wu, the paleontologist? By assigning separate ISNIs to each Hong Wu, their work can easily be kept separate.

A further example is that of a name that did not originate in the Latin alphabet – such as a Russian or Arabic name. It’s possible to group all of the variant spellings under a single ISNI, thus providing a sort of “thesaurus” for search engines. This ensures that if you search for “Dostoyevsky”, you will also get search results for “Dostoevski”, “Dostoievsky”, and other variations.


The ISNI database is built from hundreds of databases all over the world, including Books in Print, the British Library, ProQuest, and numerous national libraries and other data sources. Because there are millions of assignments in the ISNI database, your name might already be there! It pays to go to to check.

If you are not in the database, MyIdentifiers has a registration platform. You’ll need to create an account , and then you can purchase and register ISNIs from your dashboard the same way you do ISBNs.

If you are a publisher or other organization with many names to register, and you don’t want to fill out a form for each one, contact for information about bulk files and pricing.

Click here to contact us directly. or call 1-877-310-7333 to discuss in greater detail.