Introduction to MarcEdit

Last updated on 2023-04-25 | Edit this page

Estimated time: 10 minutes



  • What is MarcEdit?
  • What can MarcEdit do?


  • Explain what the MarcEdit software does
  • Explain how the MarcEdit software can help work with library bibliographic data and library MARC files

What is MarcEdit?

MarcEdit is a suite of tools created and maintained by Terry Reese. The tools together form the MarcEdit software. These tools provide numerous functions which can be used to create, edit, and manipulate library metadata, particularly, though not limited to, records in a variety of MARC formats and standards. In this way, the MarcEdit software is MARC agnostic and can work with Unimarc or MARC21. MarcEdit can be used to:

  • make small, single, edits to individual MARC records
  • make edits across many MARC records at a single time
  • automate common edits/processes
  • validate your data against defined MARC rules
  • convert data between different formats
  • enhance your data
  • pull data from external sources

The features offered by the suite of MarcEdit tools continue to evolve, with new features added as the software is updated by Terry Reese. A comprehensive list of features is available on the MarcEdit website.

Although the ability to create, view and edit MARC records is built into many pieces of library and bibliographic management software, MarcEdit is particularly flexible and powerful for manipulating MARC data in bulk. With MarcEdit’s wide-ranging functionality and integration into other library software and services, it is a very powerful toolkit for anyone working with bibliographic data.

MarcEdit’s Primary Features

Profiling MARC Data

Before working with any data file, it is advantageous to understand that data. MarcEdit can help you answer common questions you might have of your data, such as: How many records are in the file? Does the file contain MARC data that describes only books, and are those books print and/or electronic? Do the records follow national metadata standards and best practices needed for your local systems?

Getting a profile of the MARC data in your file can help you make a plan on what changes need to be made to the file. Further, it can help you automate some of the changes if this type of file is one that you work with often.

Manipulating MARC Data

MarcEdit is like the Swiss army knife for MARC data. You can perform single (one record) or global (all records) edits such as adding or deleting MARC fields, subfields and indicator values. Other edit functions include building fields using MARC data from other fields, or changing the case of data in a field. You can also run functions that update your MARC data to the content standard Resource Description and Access (RDA) or assign OCLC’s FAST subject headings to records in the file.

Tasks and Automation

If you have a list of changes to make, MarcEdit allows you to package these together to be run one after another in Tasks. These packages of changes can then be saved for future use. This is one of the ways to automate your work, making manipulating your MARC data easier and quicker.


MarcEdit can integrate with OCLC’s WorldCat and Ex Libris’ Alma library system platform. Thanks to these integrations, you can retrieve records from external services, manipulate the records, and then push the changes back to the system integration of your choice.

Using MarcEdit you can harvest OAI or Open Archives Initiative for Harvesting Metadata Protocol Dublin Core or MARC21 records. Though not necessarily an integration, harvested records can also be manipulated.

Regular Expressions

MarcEdit allows for the use of regular expressions in many of its MARC data manipulation features. Regular expressions are a sequence of text to identify a search pattern. This is a powerful tool that allows greater flexibility when manipulating MARC data.

Getting help

If you encounter problems installing MarcEdit or using a MarcEdit feature, a good source of support is the MarcEdit mailing list. The MarcEdit website has a list of places where you can get help using the software including:

Key Points

  • MarcEdit is a tool for working with bibliographic metadata, specifically in the MARC format
  • MarcEdit can be used to open, review and edit MARC files
  • MarcEdit provides advanced features and integrations to support the manipulation of MARC files