Version 2019.0.3 of Describing Archives: A Content Standard Available for Free Download

Describing Archives: A Content Standard — version DACS 2019.0.3 — reflects the growing convergence among archival, museum, and library standards, aligns DACS with the descriptive standards developed and supported by the International Council on Archives, and provides guidance on the creation of archival authority records. Prepared by the Technical Subcommittee on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (TS-DACS) of the Standards Committee of the Society of American Archivists, this version replaces the Second Edition (the publication of which had a light blue cover).

DACS can be applied to all types of material at all levels of description, and the rules are designed for use by any type of descriptive output, including MARC 21, Encoded Archival Description (EAD), and Encoded Archival Context (EAC). The standard consists of two parts: Part 1: Describing Archival Materials and Part 2: Archival Authority Records. Separate sections discuss levels of description and the importance of access points to the retrieval of descriptions. Appendices feature a list of companion standards and crosswalks to ISAD(G), ISAAR(CPF), MARC 21, EAD, EAC, and Resource Description and Access (RDA) as well as the changelog versioning system.

Collectively, the principles, elements, and rules of DACS provide a framework to guide practitioners through a range of activities from concrete descriptive tasks to the development of repository-wide descriptive programs. Adherence to DACS promotes consistency for users, ensures interoperability with systems for maintenance and display, and helps to maintain the authenticity and integrity of records. The inherent flexibility of DACS requires practitioners to use their professional judgment and expertise when writing principled, standards-compliant description. Local implementation guidelines remain integral to the success of DACS, which was officially adopted as a standard by the SAA Council in January 2013 and is continuously revised as the needs of the community arise.

Download DACS 2019.0.3 for free via the SAA Bookstore. For a history of revisions, visit the TS-DACS GitHub site at