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Date added 20 June 2006
Last edited 12 November 2009

Full Title

Encoded Archival Description


This standard defines principles and criteria for designing, developing and maintaining an encoding scheme for archive and library finding aids. The standard accommodates hierarchical registers and inventories of any length describing the full range of archival holdings, including textual and electronic documents, visual materials and sound recordings.

The encoding scheme originally used an XML document type definition (DTD) which consisted of two parts: an XML-compliant DTD and a detailed tag library. EAD, version 1 was originally published as an SGML compliant DTD in 1998, along with application guidelines containing extensive examples of encoded finding aids. This was superseded by the XML compliant DTD EAD, Version 2002. The XML schema for EAD, Version 2002 was released in February 2007.

Although the term finding aid traditionally encompasses a wide variety of tools to describe, control and provide access to archives and manuscript collections, this encoding standard is primarily for inventories and registers. Its design, however, does not preclude further development to accommodate other types of finding aids, such as repository guides.

Standards Developing Organisation

Network Development and MARC Standards Office


Copyright: The Society of American Archivists, 2002. All rights reserved.

Lifecycle Actions

Access, Use and Reuse
Create or Receive
Description and Representation Information
Preservation Planning

Standard Frameworks

Digital Archive Standards
Digital Repository Standards

Standard Type

XML DTD and Schema

Current Version

2002 - Encoded Archival Description, version 2002 [external]
EAD 2002 DTD, and schema in both RNG and XSD and associated Tag Library

Further Information

Encoded Archival Description Version 2002 Official Site [external]
Includes documentation for EAD version 2002 and the now superseded EAD version 1.0 (1998)
EAD Help Pages [external]
Tools, resources, implementors directory etc

Alternative Current Versions


Previous Version

1998 - Encoded Archival Description, version 1.0 [external]
EAD version 1.0 DTD and associated Tag Library

Referenced Standards

ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description