While every attempt should be made to use plain and accessible language in your policy, it is likely to be difficult to completely avoid community-specific terminology and usages which may not be obvious to the non-specialist. A glossary can therefore be a helpful addition. In developing this, you should consider the following:

  • Don’t re-invent the wheel: there are a number of excellent existing glossaries for digital preservation which you can re-use. In particular, the DPC's Digital Preservation Handbook includes a comprehensive glossary.

  • Be selective: Limit your glossary to the key terms and concepts used in the policy, rather than attempting to cover every aspect of the subject.

  • Try to use plain and accessible language in your glossary definitions. You don’t want your readers to have to look up terms you have used in your glossary definitions in order to understand them!

  • Consider whether your glossary would be better placed at the end of your policy document or at the start. Though many people may expect to find it at the end of the document, the benefit of putting it nearer the beginning is that readers will have key terms defined before they encounter them.

  • If you only have a handful of words you need to define, consider whether it would be better to define these within the text (where a term first appears) or as a footnote. It may be that a glossary section is not needed.

Example policy statements

Wellcome Collection Digital Preservation Policy 2019–2021 (2019) - this policy includes a section on page 4 called ‘Definitions of terms used in this policy’, just after defining policy scope. It defines some key digital preservation terms used in the policy as well as some of the specific tools used at the Wellcome Collection.

Archaeology Data Services Digital Preservation Policy (2022) - this policy includes a one-page glossary table at the start of the document which includes brief definitions of key terms and acronyms used within the policy.

Cambridge University Libraries Digital Preservation Policy (2021) - this policy includes a two-page glossary at the end of the document which includes longer definitions of key terms along with the source of those definitions.



Scroll to top