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Appraisal is the process of distinguishing records of continuing value from those of no further value so that the latter may be eliminated. Records can possess different types or degrees of value to a public records body, and these values affect how records are managed and how long they need to be kept. This applies to records in all formats and media.

This process of 'appraising your records' is primarily focused on identifying key departmental records which are needed for ongoing administrative, legal or fiscal purposes. Understanding the value of such collections will:

  • assist efficient and effective administration
  • enable decision making and policy development based on current information
  • allow organisations to be accountable in terms of the management of resources, as well as legal and financial scrutiny

For more information on creating a framework for making appraisal and disposal decisions on records of business value, our What to Keep initiative can help. This guidance is designed to help government ensure it knows what information to keep and for how long, and to put this into practice.

Appraisal should also help public records bodies understand which records are likely to have wider historical value, and should therefore be kept indefinitely. The National Archives' records collection policy describes which records are likely to hold this kind of value, and therefore need to be managed in a way that ensures long term survival.

More information on defining appraisal and developing a framework for routinely identifying the value of records can be found in our guidance: What is Appraisal?

Further guidance on appraisal

Best practice guide for appraising and selecting records for The National Archives (PDF, 0.28Mb)

Appraisal Report template (DOC, 0.12Mb)

How to compile an appraisal report (PDF, 0.18Mb)

Background paper: Grigg, appraisal and beyond (PDF, 0.12Mb)

Machinery of government changes: Guidance on transfer of records, information and knowledge  (PDF, 0.49Mb)

Retention and disposal schedules

Model schedules and associated guidance

Go to the next stage: Selecting your records

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