The first input file you must prepare is the standard
forms file. This file enumerates all the taxa defined in
your preferred standard arrangement. Give this file a
name of the form
some name suggesting the source of the arrangement. For
example, a file containing names from the AOU Check-List, 6th ed.,
including all supplements through the 40th, might be
Place each taxon on a separate line in the standard forms file. The taxa appear in the order in which they are presented in a checklist. The highest taxon appears first, followed by the first contained taxon, and so on down to the first species. The remaining species in that genus follow; then come the other genera in the family, and so on.
Some taxa are defined implicitly. In particular, there is no separate line for genera, since species are identified by binomials: genera are declared implicitly by their first use in a binomial.
There are two types of record in the standard forms file:
Each higher taxon record represents a taxon above the generic rank. All such records start with a nonblank character.
Each species record represents a single species in the standard checklist. These records each start with a space.
Records in the standard forms file start with three fixed columns, with the remainder of the record in a variable-length format:
The first two columns are the code for the taxonomic rank. Any one- or two-character code may appear here, but one-letter codes must be left-justified and padded with a space. Here are the codes used for one representation of the AOU Check-List:
The third column defines the status of the bird.
This column is normally blank, but can contain a status
to indicate that the species is of
questionable occurrence in this checklist, or
for species that are extinct.
The exact structure of the “tail” of the record (that is, the variable-length part that follows the first three columns) depends on whether the record describes a higher taxon or a species.
Place each higher taxon on a separate line, following these steps:
Type the two-letter rank code, as defined in the
ranks file (see the section
above). If the code has only one letter, enter the
letter followed by one space.
In the third column, enter the status code. This
is usually one space, but encode it as
dubious taxa or “
+” for extinct taxa.
Enter the scientific name of the taxon.
Type one slash (“
/”), followed by the English name of the
Here are some examples of higher-taxon records:
c Aves/Birds -c Neornithes/True Birds +o Neognathae/Typical Birds o Gaviiformes/Loons f Gaviidae/Loons -o Pelecani/Boobies, Pelicans, Cormorants and Darters
For each species record, enter these fields on one line:
Place two spaces in the first two columns.
Enter the one-character status code in the third
column. This is normally blank, but may be
for dubious or
Enter the scientific name. The taxon is generally a binomial, but it may include a subgenus as it customarily represented: in parentheses, between the genus and species names.
Enter one slash (“
/”), followed by the English name. You may
enter multi-word names either in the conventional
order (e.g., “
Duck”), or with the generic
part first, followed by a comma and the specific
part (e.g., “
In most cases, you're done. However, if this
species is involved in a collision—that is,
if it is one of a group of two or more names that
abbreviate to the same code according to the
rules—enter another slash
followed by the
disambiguation, that is, the
substitute code for this species.
Here are some examples of species lines. The last two
show the disambiguation of the collision for code
Anas strepera/Gadwall Anas penelope/Wigeon, Eurasian Haliaeetus pelagicus/Sea-Eagle, Steller's +Camptorhynchus labradorius/Labrador Duck ?Aerodramus vanikorensis/Gray Swiftlet Cygnus (Olor) buccinator/Trumpeter Swan Cygnus (Cygnus) olor/Swan, Mute Dendroica fusca/Warbler, Blackburnian/BKBWAR Dendroica striata/Blackpoll Warbler/BKPWAR