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ISAD (G) is an abbreviation for International Standard Archival Description (General) , so it is an international application standard for the description of archived documents.

The International Council on Archives (ICA), adopted in 2000 ISAD (G) as an application standard for the distortion of archival material from corporations, individuals and families.


  • 1988 first international efforts by ICA with the support of UNESCO ,
  • 1990 Discussion of the draft from the subgroup of the AdHoc Commission on Descriptive Standards,
  • 1993/94 first version,
  • 2000 Revision of the 1994 version and second revised version of ISAD (G).

Sense and purpose

The second, revised edition, adopted in 2000 and valid today, serves as the

  • Guide for archival indexing (genuine description standard), usable in connection with already existing national standards
  • Instrument for the international exchange of description information
  • Standard that can be used regardless of the form or medium

The application of ISAD (G) enables the administration and research of information on the logical units of archival material via descriptive elements which are arranged according to information areas. Each logical unit is assigned to a level of description. The relationships between the logical units are guaranteed by linking the levels of description to one another.

This ensures that the distortion

  • uniform, appropriate and immediately understandable criteria follows
  • Finding and exchanging information on archival material is facilitated
  • Exchange of overarching, general information enabled

With the creation of the possibility of integrating the description results of various archives with different responsibilities in a uniform information system, the perspective of a global, user-oriented range of services from archives opens up, which creates access to uniformly structured information regardless of time and place and thus enables targeted, comprehensive research.

This takes account of the independence of archival working methods. The individualization of individual pieces is counteracted and the importance of the origins and purposes of origin articulated in the principle of provenance is taken into account. The standardization results in an improvement in the working methods that are based on practice and thus become the basis for the development of national standards.


The author / file creator forms the link between the standards and the General International Standard for Proper File-Based Management ISO 15489 :

  • ISAD (G) and ISAAR (CPF) guarantee the reliability and authenticity of the documents for the user (archive management).
  • The ISO 15489 guarantees the reliability and authenticity towards the author / file creator himself (business administration).
  • Documentation: ISO 15489
  • Competencies: ISAAR (CPF)
  • Author / file creator: ISAAR (CPF)
  • Archives: ISAD (G)

The relationship between ISAD (G) and ISAAR (CPF)

The requirement on the part of the archivists that both standards should be more interlinked, cumulative and a. in the idea of ​​a complete takeover from ISAAR (CPF) to ISAD (G). High-performance information systems of the present are modular systems that enable administration and research per module and by connecting the modules to one another across the entire system. The appointment of the authors / file creators is specified in ISAD (G) according to ISAAR (CPF). “The meaningfulness and clarity of the information that can be determined via access points is improved if names and other elements are recorded in authority files and subjected to a special term control. [...] The ISAAR (CPF) gives general instructions for the creation of archival authority files for the description of corporations, persons and families, which can be identified as bodies producing written material. ”(ISAD (G), 2nd revised edition; E .14).

Relationship between ISAD (G) and ISAAR (CPF)

ISAD (G) as the international standard for the archival indexing and the ISAAR (CPF) as the international standard for the preparation of authority data allow each systemic use for himself. In the interplay, the possibilities expand to offer a wide variety of information structured through standardization. Both standards thus prove to be archival instruments that can be used flexibly in an expandable overall information system whose connection to one another and to their objects is secured.


  • Bärbel Förster: General International Standard Archival Description 2000. A “new” general international archival standard? In: ARBIDO No. 5, 2004, pp. 46-47.


  • ISAD (G): International Principles for Archival Indexing . Translated and revised by Rainer Brüning, Werner Heegewaldt and Nils Brübach. Marburg 2006, 2nd, revised. (Publications of the Marburg Archive School , Institute for Archival Science; No. 23, Ed. 2), ISBN 3-923833-71-7 PDF

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