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8. Details of Individual Metadata Elements

8.29 Format Extent




Identifying Attributes




Format Extent

Defined by

Government of Canada Records Management Metadata Standard - formatExtent

Element URI

[To be actioned by Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat before publication]

Definitional Attributes


The size or duration of the data.


To provide information about the size of the record and the amount of storage space (either analog or digital) that it requires.

To provide information about the time required to download a record in an digital environment.

To enable the informed selection of a storage medium for large or small numbers of records, records with large file sizes, or records which are frequently accessed.


"Records should be stored on media that ensure their useability, reliability, authenticity and preservation for as long as they are needed." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.6

"As well as the content, the record should contain, or be persistently linked to, or associated with, the metadata necessary to document a transaction, as follows:

a) the structure of a record, that is, it format and the relationships between the elements comprising the record, should remain intact…" ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 7.2.1

"Systems for electronic records should be designed so that records will remain accessible, authentic, reliable and useable through any kind of system change, for the entire period of their retention. This may include migration to different software, re-presentation in emulation formats or any other future ways of re-presenting records." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.6

"Records systems should be designed so that records will remain authentic, reliable and useable throughout any kind of system change, including format conversion, migration between hardware and operating systems or specific software applications, for the entire period of their retention." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 8.3.5

"Key elements of structural and storage metadata, such as format and key technical dependencies, should be identified and documented at the point of record capture in order to ensure that the record's accessibility can be maintained as long as required for business or other needs and to facilitate long-term preservation and management." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.1

"In order to define the content of the record or any aggregation, its logical and physical structure and its technical attributes, and in order to document the relationships that records may have between each other, metadata about the record should …

c) document record structure, …
f) document record technical characteristics and dependencies,
g) document the relationship between the data or format elements that comprise the record …
i) enable migration to different software,
j) facilitate re-presentation through emulation,
k) initiate data and format management activities to protect against media deterioration…" ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.1

"Records of current and previous structural metadata, such as format and key technical dependencies, will continue to be applied to ensure the record's accessibility is maintained through time." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.2

Value Domain

Non-enumerated strings of text representing extent.

Datatype Name



Applicable at record level only.


Optional at record level.

Relational Attributes

Encoding Scheme





Event Type

Conditions of Application - Record


Free text


Pre Record Declared Locked

Post Record Declared Locked


Yes, by authorized official only.


Not repeatable

Conditions of Application - File







Comments and Guidance

a) Explanation of Definition/Usage

Format Extent refers to the size of the record. Size in the case of digital or analog records has an immediate impact on the storage and accessibility of a record.

Knowing Format Extent will notify the user about potentially long download times or high capacities required in order to view or store a record. In the latter case, the same is true of analog records whose volume can be tracked using the Format Extent element.

b) Best Practices

For digital records this information should be auto-populated. For analog records this information will have to be supplied by the user through the use of a free-text element to record the extent.

Once a record is locked, the value for this element may be modified by an authorized official only, e.g. to accommodate a change in extent if the record is moved from one format to another.

c) Obligation

This element is deemed to be optional because it is not required for core records management processes.

d) Default Values/Auto-populate

This element should be auto-populated if the record is digital (e.g. to record the number of bytes).

e) Linkages

Format Extent is linked to the element Event Type in cases where a change to the extent of the record must be noted in the management and event history log.

f) Examples

  1. "9 KB"

  2. "400 feet of film"

  3. "1.5 hours of audio"

  4. "25 linear feet of paper files"

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