I'm looking for a word that signifies the opposite of a serial publication, where a serial publication is described like:

The first novella in a three-part series.


A quarterly publication.

The British expression "one-off" accurately describes the concept, but it seems more colloquial and dismissive, i.e., something that is meant as a draft or a prototype, than what I'm looking for. Surely this word exists.

A use case would be publishing a short-form comic or zine. Some issues would be serial: it will take 3 or 6 (or at least more than one) issues to cover a storyline. Others will be "one-off": it will only take one issue or strip or panel to cover a storyline.

  • Could you provide some more context around how exactly you would like to use this word? – Charon Aug 10 '15 at 15:44
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    'one-off' works fine but is primarily British (it's slowly becoming more popular in the US). The great majority of works have a default presentation and it's usually a single volume rather than multiple/serial. So usually one need not mention anything unless it is serial. That is, if 'serial' is not used, no need to use an antonym, it is so by default. – Mitch Aug 10 '15 at 15:56
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    For comic books, you can use "one-shot". – approxiblue Aug 10 '15 at 16:00
  • @Mitch That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the feedback! – Michael Atkinson Aug 10 '15 at 16:00
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    I live in the US, I sometimes use and often hear the term "one-off", it is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title of this question, and I never would have thought that it was British or that it referred to a draft or prototype. – Jordan Aug 11 '15 at 17:46

The domain-specific relational antonym of 'serial publication' is 'volume publication'. This works for the use case you describe, and is the traditional oppository phrase. It is inexact (not surprisingly: all antonyms are inexact, and relational antonyms particularly so), hence constructions such as "serial volume" are not only possible but in widespread use.

  • Selected because of the domain specificity. – Michael Atkinson Aug 12 '15 at 18:15

"One-off" is, as you say, slightly British.

"Stand-alone" is frequently used in Britain and North America.

"One-shot" is also used for comics.

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    +1 for stand-alone (since I am in the US). An online dictionary link would enhance the answer. – bib Aug 10 '15 at 16:19
  • I wouldn't mind not having the dictionary link, but include the one-shot link from above since it directly relates to comics, and maybe incorporate Mitch's commentary, and you're golden. – Michael Atkinson Aug 10 '15 at 16:32

A publication that is not serial is a one-time publication. This usage beats out stand-alone even in Ngram’s American corpus. It is official terminology for Canada Post, though lumped together for postal purposes with annual publication. The term is also sometimes used in a slightly different sense, though, associated with the granting or selling of publication rights by an author to a publisher.


For a one time publication of either a scholarly or casual work you can use the term Monograph.


For a magazine, I would use Special edition

Example: We are currently working on a special edition of The Lancet to promote the latest thinking on this critical issue.

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    I'm not exactly looking to call attention to the fact that a particular issue is special, just that it's not part of a series. – Michael Atkinson Aug 11 '15 at 18:30

Depending on how you plan to use it, How about "Ad-Hoc"?

for the particular end or case at hand without consideration of wider application


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    I don't like "ad-hoc"; it sounds like you're just making things up as you go. – Kevin Aug 11 '15 at 18:03

The word Hapax Legomenon could be used.

Hapax Legomenon -a word or form occurring only once in a document or corpus

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