Guidelines for scanning university records

I’ve put together this set of best practices for units that are considering (or are already actively) digitizing paper records and using the electronic version in place of the paper original. This is intended to help you make sure that you are scanning records at an acceptable level of quality for university purposes. Please address any questions to me (Anne Marie Phillips, University Records Manager).

In order for scans of university records to meet Princeton’s needs for adequate recordkeeping, the following minimum requirements must be met:
  1. The scan must be complete (e.g., for a given credit card statement, every receipt and missing original receipt form must be included);
  2. The scan must be legible. Review scans for legibility periodically as a part of regularly conducted quality control. Considerations for legibility include ensuring that:
    1. The scan is not blurred or indistinguishable;
    2. Each individual document is captured completely; and
    3. The resulting image is not crooked or skewed.
  3. The document must be scanned at a resolution that will capture the finest significant details of the original, typically a minimum resolution of 150 dpi;
  4. The scan must be saved in PDF or TIFF format and must not be further altered; and
  5. The scan must be saved in a location that is known, identifiable, secure, and backed up on a regular basis by OIT or by in-unit IT staff. As with paper records, scanned records must be accessible when needed, and kept in a secure location to prevent accidental or intentional alteration or loss.

Please note that these standards are the minimum required and will be acceptable for most non-permanent records. In some instances higher standards may be appropriate. For example, if an original document is faded or badly printed, the scan may need to be done at a higher resolution or the image may need manipulation to make it legible. The ultimate goal, in adhering to these standards, is to produce reproductions of the original records that will serve as acceptable supporting documentation for internal and external audits, audits by regulatory agencies, and legal matters. Scans that are not legible, complete, and secure, yet accessible to authorized people when necessary, are not acceptable forms of supporting documentation. If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact the university records manager, Anne Marie Phillips.

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