The size of slide labels has always presented visual resources curators with dilemmas. Each image of art or architecture carries with it a large body of data that is useful to the image users. Most curators attempt to provide as much of this information as possible on each slide label. However, in order to do so, the use of abbreviations is often necessary. In many cases, these abbreviations, with the exception of a very few more or less accepted standards, have been developed separately in each collection by individuals as they composed the labels.

Standards for abbreviations used in data descriptions for works of art are justifiable for several reasons. Initially they are useful because they conserve space in a context that requires the communication of a maximum amount of information. However, it is necessary to standardize the forms of abbreviations used in order to make communication consistent and accurate, and to thereby make use of space and communication more efficient.