User:Rossetyler/Proposal/Track numbering

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Status: This page describes an active style guideline proposal and is not official.

Proposal number: RFC-STYLE-121
Champion: Hawke
Current status: RFC

JIRA ticket STYLE-121


Typically tracks are numbered from 1..n. However, track numbers can be altered to more closely reflect Artist Intent, the specific release and details of sides, chapters and other groupings. The guidance below considers the circumstances where this is (or is not) appropriate.

Unordered tracklists

Some releases have no defined track order. For these releases, leave the track number blank.

Unnumbered tracks

If the track listing is entirely un-numbered, number them in order starting with one. (for CDs, they should match the actual CD track numbers.)

If only a few tracks are hidden (unlisted) or unnumbered, leave the track number blank for those tracks.


Traditionally (for example, on sites such as discogs), tracks on sided media have been identified using a letter (for the side) and a number (for the track). The letters and numbers are sequenced (for example, A1, A2, …, B1, B2, …) and a side break is indicated by a change in the side letter.

While such traditional notation is allowed in MusicBrainz (sometimes it is all we have), a more expressive notation is preferred which handles these cases:

  • Sides that are not lettered.
  • Tracks that are not numbered.
  • Sides and/or tracks that are not identified at all.
  • Side breaks that are not implied by a change in side identifier.

To handle these cases, the “track number” field should be a concatenation of side and track identifiers (in that order) separated by a single ASCII hyphen-minus character. The delimiter is only necessary when there is a side identifier. If a hyphen-minus is used as part of an identifier, some other dash (en, en, ...) should be used instead.

If the sequence of identifiers does not suggest where a side break is, an additional delimiter should be prepended.

Identifiers are not normalized but appear as they are on the release.

Identifiers may be found in the same locations as track titles (for example, cover, insert, booklet, disc labels, etc.). Sometimes side identifiers may be found as an extension to the catalog number. Conflicts between identifiers should be resolved in the same fashion as conflicts in track titles would.


Notation Side Identifier Track Identifier Description
A1 ? ? Traditional notation used for the first track on the first side when it is not known how they are actually identified
A-1 A 1 Preferred notation used for the first track on the first side when it known they are actually identified this way
1-A 1 A
1-1 1 1
IV-one IV one
A A A side track on singles where there is just one identifier and it is not clear whether it is for the side or track
-A A A side track on second side of A/A singles
1 1
1- 1
black-first black first


Some media have “Sub-tracks”. This applies to CD “indexes”, DVD “titles”/“chapters”, and 4 or 8-track cartridge “programs”, and is also common in production music to identify alternate versions of a track (e.g. a 30-second excerpt).

For these releases, separate the main track from the sub-track with a period: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2.

Note Note: It is currently impossible to store CD indexes other than index 1 on each track, due to the way discIDs are tied to tracklists. Enter as one track, using multiple title style if applicable. Do not enter additional indexes as if they were tracks, even if no discID is attached yet.


If there is only one title on a DVD, just use basic track numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

If a DVD includes a tracklist which doesn’t include some chapters, follow the tracklist numbering. Leave any skipped chapters un-numbered.


Live by Apocalyptica has 18 chapters in the first title, “Live Concert”; the first chapter is unlisted on the cover and the menus and only plays if you choose “play all”.

Unusual releases

parallel grooves
Some vinyl records have several sets of parallel grooves. For these tracks, insert an additional groove identifier between the side and track identifiers. Ordering is left to the discretion of the editor and voters.
Examples: Matching Tie and Handkerchief by Monty Python, Mad Magazine’s It’s a super-spectacular day