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Annotation of Herbarium Specimens

Annotations are notes added to the packet by subsequent examiners. They indicate the examiner's opinions on the correct identification of the specimen or draw attention to notable characteristics. All specimens borrowed from CUP must be annotated. Annotations enhance the information value of herbarium specimens, and improve their utility to future users. If an annotation is thorough, the next examiner may not need to sacrifice another fragment of the specimen to make slides.

The annotation on archival paper should include:

  • specimen number (e.g. CUP-A 2552, NY-Ellis 746) in case the slip gets separated from the specimen packet
  • determination, a copy of drawings, and/or any comments or other information. Indication of nomenclatural changes and citation of publication(s) involving the specimen would be appreciated.
  • investigator’s name and institution
  • date annotated. Please be sure to use a 4-digit year (e.g. 10 December 2006, 10.xii.2006, or December 10, 2006).
  • enclose annotation slip inside specimen packet

An Acceptable Slip


Archival-quality materials must be used for annotation because the specimens must survive for a hundred years or more. Acid-free, high-cotton content paper may be cut to the size needed so long as the finished product can fit, or be folded to fit, inside the packet (the CUP annotation slip is 2.75 x 4.25 inches). Handwritten annotations should be made using permanent, archival ink (e.g. India ink or Pigmapens) or hard-leaded (2.5 or higher) pencil. Ball-point pen and non-archival felt tip pens are not acceptable due to fading and/or bleeding through paper with age. Please write legibly so that even someone not very familiar with English can read your notes. Typewritten annotations are acceptable when using archival paper and ribbon with archival ink. Computer-generated annotations should be printed on a laser printer or an ink jet printer with an archival-quality ink cartridge.

An Unacceptable Slip


The incorrect characteristics of this slip (thanks, Dr. Korf!):

  • non-archival ink (purple felt-tip pen)
  • non-archival paper (scrap of newsprint)
  • illegible handwriting
  • ambiguous date
  • no specimen number
  • illegible signature


A collection of preserved plant disease and fungus specimens documenting the world's biodiversity

"...above all, leave a luxurious legacy of data for future taxonomists to build upon."

Richard P. Korf
Mycotaxon 93: 414. (2005)