Archival Processing: Style Guide


Try not to use abbreviations - few are absolutely standardized and it is best to avoid possible ambiguities.

Common words and abbreviations you may not think about:

  • memo = memorandum (plural: memoranda)
  • info = information
  • misc = miscellaneous (try to avoid this word unless the rest of your title or series is more descriptive)
  • & = and (except for instances where the ampersand is part of a business name or similar, such as AT&T, Lewis & Clark College)
  • # = number
  • etc. = et cetera (try to avoid this too)


  • St., Jr., and Ft. and similar in city and person names
  • U.S. (United States) and D.C. (Washington, D.C.) (note the use of periods in these); Please write out state names if possible.
  • Degrees: B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (note the use of periods in these)

Acronyms: Do not use acronyms without describing them fully the first time they are used.

  • Use acronyms sparingly: With electronic finding aids, researchers may jump to a portion of the finding aid without reading all of the notes. If you have a series title that has an acronym, make certain that you include the full name in the series title, in addition to the acronym. Example: School of Nursing (SON), Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)
  • If using an acronym and pluralizing it, make it a small 's' and don't use an apostrophe. (e.g., PACs, EISs, EAs)



You can add formatting to your notes and series/folder titles (during data entry), but it is not a quick and easy process. Therefore, whenever possible, make formatting decisions during the data entry process rather than waiting for the end.

  • Italicize the titles of published and significant works in the notes and the series/folder titles. When writing titles on folders, underline the words that should be italicized in the final version. When entering data, surround italicized words as such: <emph render=“italic”>Title Name Here</emph>
  • For smaller works, such as essays or journal articles, surround the title in quotation marks: “Title Name Here”
  • Elements that are bolded are generally handled through the style sheet (such as Section or Series titles), but should you find the need to bold text within a note or folder title, it is similar to the italics coding: <emph render=“bold”>Bold text here</emph>


When adding links to any finding aid notes, use the following format:

<extref href="[URL here]" show="embed" title="[link title]" actuate="onrequest">[Link text]</extref>

Example: Linking to the OHSU web archive

<extref href="" show="embed" title="OHSU web archives" actuate="onrequest">OHSU web archive</extref>

Date Formatting

Inclusive Dates:

  • 1849-1851 (no spaces around the dash)
  • NOT 1849-51

If the collection continues to accrue, place the most recent accrual in the date span:

  • 1965-2009
  • NOT 1965- OR 1965- (Ongoing)

Bulk Dates:

  • 1895-1960, bulk 1916-1958

Significant Gap in Records:

  • 1827, 1952-1978

Estimated Date Ranges:

  • circa 1870-1879 OR approximately 1952-1978

Single Dates:

  • 1975
  • 1975 March
  • 1975 March 17

Estimated Dates:

  • circa 1967
  • before 1967
  • after 1967 January 5
  • 1960s

No Dates:

  • undated


  • Do not put punctuation at the end of your collection, series, subseries, or folder titles. 
  • Do not add unnecessary spaces after the folder titles or dates as this can cause additional spaces when entries are merged through a style sheet.
  • Hyphens: Use a space on either side of a hyphen when used to separate ideas; do NOT use spaces in hyphenated words or time/date spans.
  • Do not put extra spaces within parentheses (for example) ( not like this ), or before a colon (Like: this; Not : this)
  • Other Notes

    • Capitalization: Use sentence structure – capitalize the first word and proper titles or names. DO NOT capitalize every word. Do capitalize the word directly after a colon (:).
    • Initials: Put a space after each period in a name (J. R. R. Tolkien). For places, do not use a space (U.S., D.C.).
    • Possessive case: If a word is singular, but ends in ‘s’, you still need to add ’s in the possessive case (e.g., Lawton Chiles’s notebooks).

    • Commas: Please use the Oxford comma (comma used before the conjunction, e.g., one, two, and three) as it helps clarify your intention.
    • Pluralization: An apostrophe is not used to pluralize a noun, date, or acronym (e.g., EAs, 1980s) and in cases of doubt (e.g., thank yous), please use a different phrase (e.g., thank you notes, thank you letters) 
    • Miscellaneous: Avoid the use of "Miscellaneous" whenever possible. It doesn't really add anything to a description. If you absolutely must use the term in a series or folder title, please write a description that includes at least a list of the types of materials included therein (e.g., Miscellaneous financial materials).