National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program

Digital Scanning

The guidelines and best practices for digital scanning presented here have been provided by Steve D. Bowman at the Utah Geological Survey.


Effective data preservation of materials by digital scanning begins with an appropriate workflow, equipment, and specifications.  Since it is unlikely that materials will be rescanned in the future due to their fragile and deteriorating nature, limited funds and time, and access limitations, it is critical to produce high-quality digital scans that closely resemble the original materials.  Adopting an appropriate workflow will reduce the cost, time involved, and excessive handling of materials. The digital scanning guidelines and best practices were developed to assist participants in the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) and others actively preserving geoscientific materials, data, and artifacts. Common digital scanning situations are described; however, unique materials to be archived and preserved will likely require specialized methods that may not be described in this document.  

Before a digital scanning project begins, it may be helpful to sort the materials into groups that will likely have a similar scanning workflow. The grouped materials may be scanned in an assembly line, reducing errors and time. Scanning documents, reports, large maps, photographs, and other materials will require different workflows, equipment, and specifications.

Please visit the links on the right side of this page to access the scanning guidelines.

How can you contribute?

If you have any success stories, suggestions, or contributions you would like to share, please send an email to the NGGDPP at  We will work with you to highlight your best practices and share them online.