n.an entry in an authority file that contains information about the preferred form of a name or subject headingDurance 1993, 40In other words, the authority records can reveal to a user information about relationships between records and their creators—the fonds to which they belong—or can also be combined in different ways to reveal information about the creators or the documents themselves.Sweetser and Orchard 2019, 339In contrast, authority control and bibliographic description have long been separated within the cataloging realm whereby a single record (i.e., an agent such as a personal name) serves as the authority record. This single authority record is reused thereafter, referenced in each bibliographic record of which it is the creator or subject.
An authority record typically includes a list of cross-references of variant forms that point to the preferred form. The authority record may contain additional information to help ensure the heading is applied correctly. For example, entries for topic terms may include a scope note restricting its use to a specific meaning, or an entry for a personal name may include birth and death dates to distinguish the subject from other persons with that name.