United Nations Archives and Records Management Section Guideline

By Katie Dixon,2014-05-28 16:57
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United Nations Archives and Records Management Section Guideline

    Guideline on Version Control

    Version Control: Is a Solution Needed?

    Not all areas of the UN will need to implement and use a rigorous version control

    convention. However, it is good practice for an organisation to have some rules in place

    of which all staff are aware and to which they can refer if necessary. If your answer to

    one or more of the following question is „yes‟, you and your colleagues probably need to

    develop a version control system:

    ? Have you ever had to spend longer than 5 minutes determining which document is the

    most recent version?

    ? Have you ever wasted time working on the wrong document?

    ? Is it important to you and your team‟s work to be able to track changes to the documents

    you draft together?

    What is Version Control?

    Version control consists of an agreed convention for numbering the versions, and

    procedures for recording the number.

    Options for Numbering Versions

    Versions can be indicated by a number of methods, including:

    ? simple running numbers (v1, v2, v3 etc.) where each new version, no matter how big or

    small the change receives the next number;

    ? major/minor version numbers (v1_0, v1_1, v1_2, v2_0, v3_0 etc.) where the first number

    represents a significant change to the content, and the second number a smaller change

    (such as correcting spelling or formatting). Because changes can be either major or minor

    and in any combination, version numbers in this model can run from „minor to minor‟,

    „major to minor‟, „minor to major‟, or „major to major‟ depending on the types of changes


    ? Version dates (v 2005-06-17, v 2005-06-19 etc.) where the date each version is

    completed is added to the document. This system does not work well where many

    versions are produced on the same day.

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When a document is finalised, this should be indicated by e.g. adding „final‟ to the

    document title and/or a final date. If necessary, assign a version controller to oversee the


    Keeping Earlier Versions

    Depending on your business need and the applicability to your office of ARMS‟ guidance

    on keeping drafts as separate records, there are three options for keeping versions of a


    ? Option 1: Creating a new document for each version („Save As…‟) – you would use this

    option when a complete history of the document must be kept showing all changes

    ? Option 2: Making changes to the same document (Overwriting) you could use this

    option when minor comments (e.g. about formatting) have been made electronically by a

    colleague and you are now incorporating them

    ? Option 3: Creating new documents for some changes and overwriting the latest version

    for others (Combination) The option you choose will affect how you record the version number, and how you

    record the version number may affect the option you choose! Option 1 is the most

    reliable if you are uncertain. Again, remember that the official record format is paper and

    any significant early versions which are wanted for later reference must be printed and


    There are three main methods for recording details of versions:

    ? Including the version in the title

    ? Manually inserting the version into the header or footer

    ? Using the versioning functionality in Microsoft Word

    Using the title or the header/footer, you may either create a new document for each

    version, overwrite the current version, or a combination. If you choose to use the

    versioning functionality in Microsoft Word then you should use only one document and

    overwrite it. (Note that the versioning functionality is not available in some early versions

    of Word and is not available in other Microsoft Office products.)

    Adding version information to the title is the most reliable method, particularly if used in

    combination with Option 1 creating a new document for each version.

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Procedures for Recording the Number

    Using the Document Title

    Adding version information to a document title makes it possible to see the version information without having to open it. Remember, if you need to be able to go back to earlier versions each new one must be a separate document (see above). You could use this method in conjunction with a version number in the header or footer but you must remember to update both the header/footer and the title for each new version. Here are two examples of how different versions of a document have been saved: Example One bad version control (not been thought out or used consistently)

Example Two good version control (version number has been consistently added to

    the end of the document title).

Using Headers or Footers

    Version information can be included in the header or footer of a document. This has the advantage of showing the version information if the document is printed but has a number of disadvantages and limitations:

    ? You can not tell which version without opening the document

    ? You can not keep earlier versions without re-titling them If you choose to put version information in to the header or footer you should do it in combination with information in the document title.

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Versioning Functionality in Microsoft Word

    You should only use this method of recording version information when several people

    are contributing to the drafting process and there is minimal need to retain earlier

    versions as separate records.

    Remember that this option is not available in some early versions of Word and is not

    available in other Microsoft Office products.

    Computer Know-How

    Quick Guide

    Versioning in Microsoft Word

    1. Select the File menu from the toolbar

    2. Select the Versions option, which opens a dialog box

    3. Select Save Now

    4. Give the version a name or number

You can also set the document so that a new version is automatically saved when the

    document is closed. To automatically save versions on closing documents:

    Computer Know-How

    Quick Guide

    Automatically Saving Document Versions in Microsoft

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    1. Select the File menu from the toolbar

    2. Select the Versions option, which opens a dialog box

    3. Select “automatically save a version on close” and close the

    dialog box

    You can access previous versions from the versions dialog box.

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