Step 4: Cataloguing and preparation of records

This is the process of preparing records for permanent preservation. For paper records it includes creating descriptions and physically preparing the files for transfer. For digital records it includes generating metadata and preparing digital files for transfer. Preparation for transfer is an important step which must be completed in accordance with The National Archives’ guidelines - it is a necessary part of ensuring the long-term survival and preservation of the records.

The process applies equally to bodies that transfer to a place of deposit. Bear in mind that places of deposit will have their own cataloguing and metadata standards and conventions.

There is a quick reference guide covering the key elements. We have published more detailed guidance on cataloguing, physical preparation and planning and arranging delivery of records.

A guide to transferring records to The National Archives – transfer aide memoire (PDF, 0.48Mb)

Please see additional guidance on generating metadata for digital records and preparing digital files for transfer.

Physical preparation

This describes what departments should do to prepare records for permanent preservation.

Cataloguing

This covers how departments list and describe the records they are transferring to The National Archives and places of deposit.

Go to the next stage: Planning and arranging delivery of records

Bear in mind that places of deposit will have their own cataloguing and metadata standards and conventions.

Departments and other public record bodies which transfer records either to The National Archives or a place of deposit must ensure that the records have been prepared for transfer in accordance with The National Archives' preparation guidelines.

Cataloguing is the process of writing a description for the records that you are transferring.