The MRC’s guide to creating and managing digital material

With the turn towards digital material, it’s increasingly more important to consider how your files will be preserved for future use. Here’s a guide to best practice in creating and managing digital material…

Those of us that remember what it was like to use a computer the size of a small house might also remember Clippy. Microsoft’s office assistant, with his goofy paperclip grin staring right back at you, attempted to help users create and manage content by offering them guidance on tasks such as writing a letter.

Looking back, the little guy never really took off…indeed, Clippy even made Time’s 50 worst inventions list in 2010. However, we here at the Modern Records Centre appreciate that guidance can be useful and having been inspired by Clippy have just published some new webpages to offer advice on creating and managing digital content, minus the constant pesky screen taps.

Top Tips:

1. Don’t take advice from a paperclip

2. Do take advice from the MRC

Our guidance centres around good data management and how the choices made in the creation and management of digital material can help us to preserve that material for the long-term.

So, why is preservation important you ask? Well, because we rely on the digital objects that we produce. They may represent important historical and cultural artefacts, thought-provoking research datasets or even just pictures of our friends doing a silly dance. These things are all important to look after.

The Modern Records Centre works to look after the digital objects placed within our care by giving them all the TLC they require in order to ensure that they remain trustworthy and accessible to our community in the future. This includes making sure that the objects are findable, that the objects can be rendered by future software and hardware combinations, that the content can be understood and that their authenticity, integrity and reliability are maintained.

To help us achieve this we encourage some basic principles that we have outlined on our site. Anybody who creates and manages digital files should take a look. Click here for information on

  • creating your files
  • organising your files
  • describing your files
  • storing your files
  • depositing your files with us

…we promise that there isn’t a paperclip in sight!

By Ben Veasey (Digital Preservation Officer)

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