ISAN has been designed to be read by humans and processed in information systems, as a 24-bit hexadecimal number. The structure of ISAN has been designed to meet the diverse needs of the entire audiovisual supply chain.
The ISAN is comprised of three segments: the root, the episode and the version component.
- The root segment is assigned to a root work (i.e. a distinct intellectual creation).
- The episode segment: subsequent film parts or episodes that relate to the root work share the same root, but have a different episode component. If a core work is not episodic, then the episode segment is filled with zeros.
- The version segment: episodic and non-episodic works that have been modified in some way (for example, an edit for distribution in a specific territory, different audio or subtitles, etc…) are identified with a different version segment. By default, the version segment is null (filled with zeros)
The ISAN contains two check digits (made up of the numbers 0-9 and the letters A-F) to help identifying transcription errors.
When represented in its printed form, the ISAN begins always with the “ISAN” label and is segmented in six groups of four hex. digits separated with hyphens, such as the two check digits. The resulting number appears as follows:
When used in digital transactions, the ISAN prefix, the hyphens and the check digits can be omitted as for example :
Every ISAN is encoded in a two-dimensional datamatrix barcode that can be downloaded from the ISAN Registry web interface in various resolutions and formats.