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Digitise records

You can digitise your records to enable electronic access and minimise the need for physical proximity and handling of physical records.


You will need to investigate the expenses involved in digitising, the storage of electronic copies and their ongoing management, including regular migration. Determine your business needs before making this decision.

Producing lower quality copies (e.g. for temporary records or access purposes only) may be cheaper than high quality copies. This will depend on the equipment available.

You must take care when using scanning equipment to avoid damaging the records or the machine. Scanners that automatically feed documents are not appropriate for historical or fragile records, as they may snag or chew up paper.

Some record formats demand specialist digitisation equipment and services such as bound volumes, audio tapes and video.

The range of audio-visual (AV) formats is extensive and it can be a challenge to identify the original format, what format to use and how best to digitise it. Video files in particular are large and will take up much more data storage, even with the best compression available.

Time and labour

Digitisation is labour intensive, whether done in-house or outsourced.

Older records may require significant preparation to get them scan-ready and legible (e.g. lamination, creases, tape, staples etc.).

If original text is faint, settings may require constant adjustment or considerable post-production work to make the copy legible.


The digitisation disposal toolkit outlines the recommended standards for digitising records, and the requirements if temporary records are to be destroyed following digitisation.

Find out how to manage digitised records.

Contact QSA Preservation Services for advice or information to help identify particular AV formats or regarding digitisation in general.

If you are microfilming records, see the Guideline for best practice microfilming of public records (PDF, 354 KB).