Born-digital records and metadata

In digital transfer we differentiate between born-digital records and digitised representations of paper records.

This page introduces some of the types of born-digital records that The National Archives would preserve and make available, along with metadata to these records. The latter might be descriptive metadata, which becomes part of the catalogue entry for the record and governs access and use of the record, or technical metadata, which is necessary in the context of preserving the record for long-term access.

What are born-digital records?

Born-digital records are records that have been natively created in digital format (rather than digitised from paper records).

Examples of born-digital information include:

  • email
  • text-based documents (for example Word documents, Google documents)
  • presentations (for example PowerPoint)
  • spreadsheets (for example Excel)
  • PDFs
  • images and videos
  • CAD drawings
  • 3D models
  • data sets and data bases

What is metadata?

Data about the record such as the last date modified and the file title. This is the information that forms the catalogue entry for the record.

Examples of metadata include:

  • identifier, for example a file path
  • file title
  • file format
  • dates, for example the date of creation, the date last modified, the date last accessed
  • checksum
  • closure information, if applicable, e.g. the retention period or the exemption applied
  • description
  • copyright information
  • protective marking