An illustration of a laptop displaying two squares that represent software windowsThis section provides guidance on how to design the template for your DAR. This includes general tips on things to think about, recommendations for key headings to incorporate, and some suggestions about particular formats and tools you can use to practically implement your plan.


  1. General Tips for Developing Your DAR Template
  2. Recommended Basic Template
  3. Choosing a Format and Storage Location for Your DAR


General Tips for Developing Your DAR Template

The following are some general items to consider when you are developing the template for your DAR. Following these tips will help you to create a DAR that is easier to use and update.

  • Use agreed lists of terms to be used and/or set formats for individual data elements where possible. This will help to ensure the capture of good quality data, as well as making it easier to manipulate. This can be implemented by having clear guidance on the terms to use under particular headings, or by using functionality like drop-down lists for data entry.

  • Consider carefully who will be updating the DAR as well as who needs to use it. Some staff members may be more technically proficient than others and this may guide the format you choose for your DAR.

  • You may also wish to add a layer of security to help control who can make edits to the DAR. This might be implemented using password protection for editing the document, or by placing it in storage where you can control access permissions.

  • Remember to find a balance between trying to be comprehensive and the time taken to complete entries. Consider starting with a simpler set of essential headings and growing these over time.

    • Also consider if some columns might be marked as “required” or “optional”.

  • Reduce duplication of effort by only including information that is captured in other systems (e.g. accession or catalogue records) where there is good reason. For example, the information in other systems is not readily accessible or is not consistently captured for digital content.

  • Depending on how you manage digital content, you may wish to use separate tabs, sections or DARs for different types of content. For example, separating born-digital content and digitized content into different areas.

  • Consider adding a dashboard that automatically generates key statistics about the digital content, and graphs and charts that provide visual representations of the stats. This may include total counts of number of files and the size of content, as well as breakdowns or these figures using factors such as year received or current processing status. This information is then readily available for advocacy purposes.

  • Finally, if you have a digital preservation repository system in place, consider aligning the headings of your DAR with reports that can be produced by the repository to help streamline the information.

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Recommended Basic Template

This subsection provides an overview of the headings (or data elements) that we recommend you include within your DAR. These recommendations were derived from an analysis of 14 real-world DARs shared by practitioners. The most commonly used and fundamental headings are included here. Additional possible headings you may consider adding are included in Appendix One of this toolkit. Some of the headings below may duplicate information held in other systems. A note has been added to the description field for headings you may choose to omit to reduce duplication.

For each heading below, we have included suggestions as to how it might be formatted, as well as a description of the information you might record under each. If alternative names for the heading were used in any of the analyzed DARs, they have also been included. You may find one of these alternatives better matches the terminology used at your organization.

Accompanying this toolkit there is  an Excel spreadsheet DAR template that includes each of these headings, a ready to use statistics dashboard, and guidance for completing and updating the template. This is free for you to download, edit, and use to help create your own DAR.

Heading Name

Alternative Name(s)

Suggested Format



Accession Number, Reference Number, Reference Code, Catalogue Reference

Alphanumeric or numeric in a set format

A unique identifier given to the DAR entry. This may reuse an ID from another system, such as an accession number. It is important to use a consistent system of assigning IDs throughout the DAR.

Content Name

Digital Asset Name, Title, Name of Series, Name of Collection


The name of the collection/series/grouping of content described in this DAR entry. The name entered here should be consistent with how the content is described in other systems and documentation.

 Transfer Year

Accession Year


The year the content was received by the archive/library/repository.

Accession Type

Deposit Type

Text using a set list of terms

The type of accession or transfer, e.g. gift, loan, purchase, internal records, transfer, etc. The list used should reflect the types of deposits your organization typically receives. This heading may be removed if you feel this information is sufficiently documented in another system or register.


Depositor, Donor, Creator


Name of the person, department, or organization that donated or transferred the content. This heading may be removed if you feel this information is sufficiently documented in another system or register.




A short text description of the content, which may include the subject(s) of the content, why it was created, what it was used for, etc. This heading may be removed if you feel this information is sufficiently documented in another system or register.

Data Owner

Responsible Staff Member


Name of the member of staff (or the role name) who has primary responsibility for the management of this content. This information is particularly useful if the content has not yet been transferred to the archive/library.

 Number of Files



A total count of the number of files included in the grouping/collection of content being described.

 Content Types


Text using a set list of terms

A summary list of the types of content included, e.g. text documents, images, databases, spreadsheets, CAD, etc.



Numeric using a set unit

The total size of the grouping/collection of content. It is important to use a consistent data storage unit for all entries to allow calculations using the data, e.g. MB, GB, TB etc. Select the unit most useful to your context. For example, if you generally have smaller amounts of digital content, you may choose MB or GB.

Storage Location


Text using a set format

The location, normally as a file path, where the main copy of the content is stored.



Text using a set list of terms

A description of the point the content has reached in your processing or preservation workflow, e.g. accessioned, quarantined, pre-ingest, ready for ingest, ingested, etc.

Sensitive Data

Data Protection


Details of any sensitive, proprietary, private, or personal data within the content.


Intellectual Property Rights


Notes on who owns IPR and other rights to the materials, including if there is any 3rd party material included, and any licenses that have been granted.




Details of the key risks faced by the content, e.g. obsolete formats, limited metadata, unstable media. This may be a summary of a risk analysis exercise or information on results from using a risk analysis tool such as The National Archives (UK)’s DiAGRAM.

Retention Period


Numeric, Text, or Date and using an agreed unit, set list of terms, or set format, respectively

Information on the period that the content should be retained and preserved for. This might be a number of years, until a specific date, or a named period such as "indefinitely".

 Access Restrictions



A description of any access restrictions in relation to the content, e.g. embargo periods or permissions needed for access.


Additional Information


Any additional information about the content that has not been covered under other headings. If you find yourself frequently adding similar information here, this can indicate the need for a new heading to be added to the DAR.

Date Added


Date using a set format

The date the entry was added to the DAR.

Entry Created By



Name of the person who added the entry to the DAR.

Date Updated


Date using a set format

The date the entry was last updated.

Updated By



Name of the person who last updated the entry.

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Choosing a Format and Storage Location for Your DAR

In addition to selecting the headings and data elements for your DAR, you must also decide the format in which to maintain the information and where the DAR will be stored. When selecting the right format and location you will need to consider:

  • What software options you have available and what functionality they offer that will help with building, managing, and using your DAR. For example:

    • Do you want to control data entry on certain fields by implementing pick lists?

    • Do you want to save your data in a flat table structure or develop a structure with more complex data relationships?

    • Does it need to have inbuilt security functionality to stop unauthorized edits?

  • Who will be adding information to and/or using the DAR? What software do they have access to and feel comfortable using?

  • Where is the DAR going to be stored? Is it possible to manage access permissions based on its location?

    • Your DAR will contain a lot of important data about your organization’s digital content, and it is important to keep this secure. Make sure to consider security when selecting both the creation tool and storage location.

Excel spreadsheets are the most commonly used format for the creation of DARs as the software is relatively ubiquitous, it can support controlled data entry and validation, and you can also add data visualizations such as summary tables, graphs, and charts. These can even be added as a separate statistics dashboard. Free alternatives to Excel include Google Sheets and LibreOffice Sheets.

Spreadsheets are not, however, the only format options for your DAR. If you want to have a more complex data structure, as mentioned above, you may wish to select a database format for building your DAR. This will likely require a higher level of technical skill but does offer the advantage of developing a user interface for data entry and editing. Do keep in mind though, that these formats can be more difficult to maintain over time due to their complexity. Other, simpler, options that have been used by practitioners include a table in a Word or other word processing document, the Lists functionality in Teams, or using pages in Sharepoint.

Once you have selected the format and storage location for your DAR, take time to ensure it has been set up correctly and that functionality has been well tested before starting to input information in earnest.

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