How Do You Know What Product is Right for Your Project?

The Reformatting Approach pages are summary charts that identify appropriate products for different original record types and use cases. In many instances, the product selection for a given product category is pre-determined by the source format. In some cases, there are a range of products available. If necessary, there is a consultative process between archival staff and technical staff during which the most appropriate product(s) are chosen.

The selection of the appropriate product category is based on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Fragility, condition, and/or uniqueness of the source material
  • Anticipated use requirements, e.g., functionality and technical distribution constraints
  • Specific project goals


Whether film-based or digital, products appropriate for different use-cases are selected based on format characteristics affecting the longevity and quality of the product, as well as available technologies. For example, motion picture film stock meets industry standards for long-term stability. In line with many digital preservation research efforts, including at the Library of Congress and The National Archives (UK), digital formats were determined based on several factors, including:

  • Ease of identification and validation
  • Adoption and ubiquity in marketplace
  • Transparency of format specifications
  • Metadata support
  • Interoperability
  • Complexity
  • Re-usability
  • Hardware and software output options

Additional considerations for digital products include hardware and software limitations, file sizes, and the availability of digital storage space.


If you are in possession of moving image or sound records but are unsure how to evaluate their format or condition, the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA’s) Moving Image and Sound Labs have created resources to help users understand the audiovisual formats they hold. You may refer to this guidance alongside Products and Services to help as you research preservation and reformatting options.