Library Services


Version control of electronic records

Guidance on version control to help ensure the correct version of a record is always used.

All documents that will become records and will be developed and reviewed by groups of people should have both an adequate name and version information in their title. This will ensure the correct version is being used, and prevents out of date information being incorporated into current versions.

You can prevent documents being overwritten by using the read-only tag, which will prompt you to save the document with a new name if they make changes to the document. To do this, in Windows Explorer right click on a document name and select Properties, then on the General tab check the Read only box and click on Apply and OK.

Watermarks can also be added to Word documents, to make their status clear to the reader: select Format - Background - Printed watermark - Text watermark.

Documents should be given a status - either Draft or Final - and a number in the form n.n. For example, the first version of a document titled Storage management will be called Storage management Draft 0.1. After re-drafting or amendments, it will be called Storage management Draft 0.2, and so on, until a final version is issued for wider circulation and comment. Then it will be called Storage management Final 1.0. Further drafts will be named Storage management Draft 1.1, 1.2 etc., until the issue of the next final version, which will be named Storage management Final 2.0.

For documents that will go through many iterations, it is useful to include a document control table or sheet, to record all the details of the revision history. An example of a document control sheet is shown below:

Document Information

Document Classification

Privacy and Data Protection

Document History

IssueChangeChanged byAuthorised by
 Draft 0.1Initial draft -no changes  
Draft 0.2Incorporate comments from Records OfficeColin PenmanRachel Barber
Draft 0.3Incorporate comments from distribution listColin PenmanRachel Barber
Draft 0.4Incorporate comments from distribution listStephen WestRachel Barber

Distribution / Actions

NameJob titleAction
Colin Penman / Graham BirkinshawRecords Manager For comment
 Records CoordinatorsFor comment
Richard VoceProject Manager, Knowledge ManagementFor information
Natasha LewisDirector, Legal ServicesFor review and comment
Deborah ButlerLegal consultantFor review and comment
Rex KnightVice-Provost (Operations)For review and sign-off

Documents relating to time-specific or recurring events, such as agendas, minutes and one-off events, and emails, do not normally require versioning suffixes, as they describe unique events such as meetings or an email conversation.

You should usually destroy previous versions of documents once the final version has been approved, although retaining previous versions is sometimes useful in documenting the thinking that led to the final version. However, you should also bear in mind the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts: the information you hold, including drafts, may be subject to disclosure.

You should not use the versioning tool provided by Word, as it greatly increases the size of documents.

Track changes

Track Changes is a useful collaboration tool in MS Word; it can aid version control by incorporating the comments and revisions of different users in a single draft. When revisions are accepted or rejected a new version of the document can be saved.

You can switch on Track Changes by selecting it from the Tools menu. Add comments by selecting from the Insert menu, or clicking on the Insert Comment icon on the Reviewing toolbar.

Where general comments about a document are required, comments pages should be added at the beginning of the document with space to add comments. An example is shown below:

Please use this table to show you have reviewed the document and to make any general comments. If you wish to make specific changes please do so in the document, using Track Changes. Other people will be commenting so please keep the document open only as long as necessary and close as soon as you have finished.

Your comments are required by [date]




  Have made changes. Have you thought about formatting this doc as a Q&A?
 Changes made in document. Suggest you ask [name] to comment too as she has detailed knowledge of this area
 To add a further row to this table press Tab