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Creating a catalogue style guide

It is useful to create a style guide for your archive catalogue. This will help to standardise how your group records its catalogue information and ensure that new volunteers quickly pick up how you want your catalogue entries to be structured.

Decide in your groups how you would like to set out each piece of information, including how you will construct your references, titles, dates, extents, and so on.

For example, you may wish to standardise how dates should and should not be recorded:

  • Dates should be:
    • Exact dates: eg 23 May 1978
    • The year: eg 1959
    • A range of years: eg 1909-1934
    • Plus or minus five years around a date: use ‘c’ which is short for circa then the year, eg c 1953
    • A decade: eg 1990s
    • A century: eg 20th century
    • If no date is given on the document, but is estimated by cataloguer use ‘nd’ (‘no date’) with the date in square brackets, eg nd [mid 20th century]
  • Dates should not be:
    • In shorthand format eg 30/07/2003

Draw up a document that sets out the required styles for each format. This can be kept for future reference.