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Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

Going Live! Digitising your archives

What is Digitisation?

Digitisation means creating digital copies of items from your collection. You can do this using a flatbed scanner or digital camera.

Why should we do this?

Digitisation can help you develop your collection:

Before you start

Using a scanner

The easiest format for digitisation is using a flatbed scanner.

Use this for flat items

First make a digital master file

You only need to scan the document once. This should be an accurate representation of the actual document. It should be created at the highest suitable resolution and bit depth. From the digital master, all other copies can be made and these can be amended as necessary.


Make sure the numbering system you apply to the digital image ties in with the archive number you have given the actual document.

An easy way is to add a ‘1’ at the end of the archive number to denote the digital image. For example:

Archive number: 110M85

Digital image number: 110M85_1


Literally data about data

Most organisations that are involved in digital preservation and digitisation also keep metadata records. These cover all the technical information related to an image, usually compiled in a spreadsheet. One advantage of keeping this kind of information is to check if the digital images have deteriorated over time.

Metadata will help support your catalogue records. You may not wish to keep such detailed information about the image, but a few key pieces may be useful, for example, if the items you are digitising are on temporary loan.

Metadata to include could be:


It is good archival practice to store images in two locations. If you are working through a large collection of images, transfer them to CD and/or an external USB hard-drive.


Key Terms

Different types of file formats

Images may be stored in a variety of ways but the two most commonly used file formats are TIFFS and JPEGS.


Tagged Image File Format – an uncompressed file format


The name originates from Joint Photographic Experts Group – a compressed file format



File size




Hampshire Record Office
Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TH
tel 01962 846154

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