(WHS Archives) EAD -- Appendix G. Contents List Guidelines

Guidelines for creating contents lists at WHS to ensure consistency

Guidelines for Creating Contents Lists

To ensure consistency across WHS finding aids, please follow these guidelines when creating contents lists in WORD for archival collections. These guidelines may differ slightly from cataloging practices depending on the material cataloged and what content standard is being used for description. Adapt if creating a non-hierarchical list in Excel or creating in ArchivesSpace.

Save file in L:LIBARC/LIBARC SHARED/Accessions  or  L:LIBARC/LIBARC SHARED/Registers as appropriate. File names for accessions should be by accession number without the punctuation and filed under year; addition of series or call number in parenthesis can be helpful. File names for registers should be by last name, first name for manuscript and film collections; for state, local, and photographs by call number.

When printing out the accompanying catalog record to send to the EAD queue, please use “Print Preview” in your browser to see how many pages are involved, and choose paper-saving options (for example: change scale to less than 100% to avoid a second page and/or choose duplex printing (printing on both sides) under Properties in the Print dialogue box). Duplex printing is fine for contents lists for which an electronic file exists.

General formatting and punctuation guidelines
  • Times New Roman
  • 12 pt. font
  • Single spacing
  • Tabs only
  • No auto numbering [select “Stop Automatically Creating Numbered lists” under Auto Correct options]
  • Box number repeated for each folder
  • Tabbing: [box #] [tab] [folder #] [tab] [tab] (add additional tabs for hierarchy)
  • No longer repeat Box    Folder on top of each page
  • No longer repeat Series, Subseries, etc. on top of each page
  • If a folder title wraps to next line use hanging indent
  • One space after a period (not two)
  • No periods at the end of series, subseries, or folder titles
  • Do not use apostrophes to form plurals: CDs (not CD’s), 1940s (not 1940’s)
  • Avoid ampersands (unless part of a company name: AT&T)
  • Avoid hyphens or dashes (apart from date ranges or file ranges: A-Z):
Henry Getto House, Old World Wisconsin
Henry Getto House-Old World Wisconsin
  • In general, include punctuation within quotation marks:
“Automation: We Can Handle It,” which appeared in Look on January 12, 1965.
“Automation: We Can Handle It”, which appeared in Look on January 12, 1965.

Unless part of a formal title (for example, for a book, article, play, film, radio or television series or court case), please spell out the following words, rather than using an abbreviation:
  • Company
  • County
  • Corporation
  • Department
  • Division
  • Governor
  • Senator
  • President
  • Representative
  • Names of states (Minnesota, not MN; North Carolina, not NC)
  • Names of months (January, not Jan.)
  • Volume (except in a periodical citation: Vol. 3, no. 2)
  • Number (except in a periodical citation: Vol. 3, no.2 or when referring to an item in the collection.)
  • Use “regarding” (not “re:” or “in re:”)
  • Use “also known as” (not “aka”)
  • Use “for example” (not “e.g.”)
  • Use “and others” (not et al.) except in the instance of court cases
The following abbreviations are fine:
  • Inc. (do not preceded with a comma: Historic Madison Inc.)
  • Ltd. (do not preceded with a comma)
  • LLC
  • Dr.
  • Rev.
  • Hon.
  • Mr./Mrs./Ms.
  • Jr./Sr. (do not preceded with a comma: Martin Luther King Jr., Robert M. La Follette Sr.)
  • Fr./Sr. (for religious appellations: Sr. Mary Mark)
  • U.S. (spell out United States where appropriate)
  • U.S.S. or S.S. (for names of ships: U.S.S. Wisconsin)
  • Lt. Governor (spell out first instance)
  • et al. and ex rel. (when used in the legal sense; do not italicize; periods only after the second word)
  • v. (not vs.) for “versus” in court cases

Spell out first instance in contents list, can use acronym thereafter, unless there may be confusion. Also applies to instances in other areas of finding aid. Generally do not use periods after each letter (exception for U.S.; but use USA).
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

If the title of a subseries, folder (or item) is a “formal title” (such as the title of a report, article, film, play, radio or television series, etc.; also note a title on a folder is not necessarily a “formal title”), then capitalize using title case.
  1. Series titles
    • Continue to indicate series by all-caps: SUBJECT FILES
  2. Subseries titles
    • Capitalize the first letter of the first word: Subject files
  3. Folder titles
    • Do not capitalize (unless appearing first) words such as:
  • correspondence
  • meeting
  • minutes
  • lists
  • notes
  • agenda
  • articles
  • news clippings (two words)
  • information
  • files
  • materials
  • proposal
  • plan
  • study
  • survey
  • form
  • photocopy
  • draft
  • original

Articles of incorporation and by-laws        NOT    Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws

Board of Directors meeting                      NOT    Board of Directors Meeting

National Endowment for the Humanities grant information
National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Information
      4. It is fine to capitalize names of committees, organizations, or businesses:
Executive Committee
Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP or later (notoriously), CREEP)
Oscar Mayer Company
  1. Format dates of materials Year Month Day: 2014 September 4
  2. Do not abbreviate months
  3. Seasons follow year: 2002 Spring
  4. Fiscal year (abbreviate FY but do not abbreviate year: FY 2001 or FY 1998/1999)
  5. Times: do not add times of day to dates
Video 4    Matrixx Marketing Research, Spirituality Focus Groups, 1997 March 26
Video 4    Matrixx Marketing Research, Spirituality Focus Groups, 8:00 PM, Room B, 1997 March 26
  • “cubic feet” no longer “c.f.”
  • “record [not records] center cartons”
  • “mm” (millimeter) and “cm” (centimeter) is preceded by a space and does not end with a period
  • “audio recordings” (two words) preferred wording for sound materials
  • “videorecordings” is one word in our finding aids, although format heading in catalog records is two words
  • 1/2 or 3/4-inch (not ½ or ¾; not quotation mark for "inch")
  • Spell out “sound,” “silent,” and “color” (“b&w” is ok) in film physical descriptions (differs from cataloging practice in which these currently are abbreviated)
Formal titles and statement of responsibility
  1. Use title case for formal titles. “A formal title is the title of a work as assigned at the point of creation or production, or is historically associated with the work even if assigned at a later date. A formal title typically appears on the manuscript's title page, colophon, or caption.” (from DCRM(MSS) glossary)
  2. Italicize title if for a book, film, magazine, exhibit title, play, radio or television series.
  3. Double quotes if the title is for an article, an episode of a television or radio program, or chapter of a book (also provide title of larger work, if known, and if not apparent in the contents list.)
  4. When a statement of responsibility (author, editor, illustrator, etc.) is present with a formal title, follow the formal title with a space-slash-space.
Meeting at the Summit / by Reuven Frank and Paul Cunningham, 1955 July 17
                   Living, 1948-1950
                       Program file
326    10               #26, “The Biggest Job in the World” / by Wade Arnold, 1948 August 22

Narrative and folder titles

Make full use of the indent to signify hierarchy (and streamline the finding aid)

2    1        Public Instruction-Categorical Aids
2    2        Public Instruction-School District Operations
2    3        Public Instruction-Choice and Charter
            Public Instruction
2    1            Categorical Aids
2    2            School District Operations
2    3            Choice and Charter

Note exception to this rule:
When a folder title continues into another box, repeat the title:
4    33-37        Correspondence, 1969-1975
5    1-3            Correspondence, 1976-1980


4    33-37        Correspondence, 1969-1980
5    1-3            Correspondence, 1969-1980 (continued)
Please use “(continued)” not “, continued” or “(cont.)”.
Subseries with only 1 file: Please continue following hierarchy of other similar subseries within a series:

1    3-4        Reports
1    5           Regional reports
1    6           County level data
1    7           County level reports
1    8            Reports
1    9            Reports
1    10          Regional reports


1    8         2002, reports

Consolidate folder titles whenever possible, combine two folders with the same heading into a single line.

3    2-3      Meeting minutes and agendas, 1987-1988


When a folder inside a box is restricted, please note on its own line preceded with “RESTRICTED:” or “COPYRIGHT RESTRICTION:” whichever is more appropriate.

Physical description of item

Please note on its own line preceded with “Physical description:”. Do not note number of folders as this is apparent by the container description. Use in case of something needing special equipment such as motion pictures or videos; however usually NOT for audio unless it is a rare format for which we cannot make user copies; or in special cases (rare, value, preservation concerns). Sometimes this information is provided at a higher level and does not need to be repeated.

Words to avoid
•    “above” and “below” in the narrative or the contents list, these terms are not helpful in a digital environment
•    "Miscellaneous" or "miscellany": if necessary, miscellaneous is preferred over miscellany
•    "etc."
Indexes in Excel
•    Do not give one column for each part of a name (Last, First, suffix); please put in only one field.
These can be combined but it takes some effort to fix.
•    Do not give one column for each part of the date (Year Month Day); please put in only one field
•    Put container or call number in far left (or far right) column; left is preferred, however if it makes more sense to be last then justify right
•    Follow basic rules above
•    Keep simple, as list will likely be marked up as a table
JNW, AEB, and KK, 2014 September 11-22; rev aeb 20181106

Keywords:EAD guidelines contents   Doc ID:87576
Owner:Alison B.Group:UW Libraries Shared Systems
Created:2018-11-06 12:28 CSTUpdated:2021-11-22 09:47 CST
Sites:UW Libraries Shared Systems
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