Document Imaging and Scanning of University Records

The following resources are available to assist departments in the decision of whether to scan records or not.  Please contact the Records Officer with any questions.

  1. Records Management Guidelines for Information Technology Systems
  2. UW-Madison Guidelines for Document Imaging and University Records
  3. Capture and Imaging of UW-Madison Records– presentation that covers the requirement for scanning university public records.
  4. Document Imaging and Capture for University Offices?
  5. Think About Imaging University Records?  See Digitization Guidelines for Records 
  6. Guidelines on Digitizing UW-Madison Paper Documents – Your Path towards successful Imaging Projects

What is a Records Management File Plan? A file Plan is a document that provides transparency in the management of university records. Departments and units should develop a file plan which documents their records management processes and where and how information is managed. Your Department/Units Imaging and capture process should be documented.

  1. University File Plans
  2. File-Plan- Template form – For use by department or units.

Frequently Asked Questions for Electronic Records and Imaging 

When Copy Deemed Original Record Wis. Statute 16.61(7)  Electronic format is deemed an original public record if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Electronic format accurately reproduces the content of the original
  2. Complies with minimum standards of quality for such copies
  3. Arranged, identified and indexed so that that any individual or component of the record can be located with the use of proper equipment
  4. Records officer, custodian, or designee executes a statement of intent and purpose describing the records to be reproduced or transferred to electronic format, the disposition of the original record, the disposal authorization number assigned, and executes a certificate verifying the records are handled in the normal course of business. (Basically this is saying that there needs to be a record schedule for all records that are being imaged).

The above is a paraphrase of the statute.


What Format should be Used for Storage?

Formats for storage of images can be in a TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) or in PDF-A. The decision on which to use is often based more on what and how the files will be used than on any technical issues.


ISO-standard for digital preservation or archivng of electronic documents. Good taxonomy, classification and naming conventions should be in place when using the PDF-A format.

Viewing – As an open standard, every application has a means to view a PDF document, and will not require special viewing software. If the documents will eventually be viewed over the internet, then PDF should be seriously considered. PDFs are also more printer-friendly.

Legal Requirements – There may be requirements for storing documents as PDF/A for compliance reasons as this specific format guarantees that the document will be viewable in decades to come regardless of the Operating System (OS) platform.

Multiple Formats – There are many flavors of PDF allowing you to choose the one that best fits your needs. Some examples include:

  • PDF/A for archiving
  • PDF/E for engineering
  • PDF/X for print production
  • PDF/VT for variable data and transactional printin


TIFF image files were created in the mid 1980s. Aldus Corporation began scanning images in black and white as well as their faxes into a fully digital format. Today TIFF can be grayscale or color and there are a number of advantages that can come with using TIFF over PDF.

The Size of Your Documents – Multi-page documents can be scanned as single-page or multi-page TIFFs. If scanned as a single-page TIFF, you will be able to retrieve and view the document much quicker than if it was scanned as a multi-page TIFF or PDF.

Will You be Adding Pages? – Signature sheets, new pages, addendums etc., can all be added to a document that was scanned as a single-page TIFF, but not to a document scanned as a multi-page TIFF or PDF.

Storage Requirements – TIFF is a compressed format, and usually requires less storage space than PDF. If you are scanning and converting a large number of documents, TIFF is usually more efficient.