Guidelines for journal digitisation

This page contains guidelines for scanning hard copy journals for both preservation and access purposes. It was prepared by the National Library in response to requests for guidance on how to scan journals so that they can be added to Trove.

The National Library delivers digitised journals via Trove to provide online access with full text search capabilities. The journals digitised are either out of copyright, or have had permission to digitise and deliver granted by the copyright holder.

The National Library of Australia has several in-house developed systems that are used to manage the scanning and OCR processes for journal content.  The requirements below therefore reflect what these systems are currently set up to receive and manage. The requirements may change in the future as a result of software developments.

Journal preservation intent

The digitisation program of hard copy journals is a preservation strategy in the same way that microfilming has been. The preservation intent is to produce surrogate copies which provide ongoing access to the information content. Appropriate storage and use of the hard copy journal post-digitisation is still a requirement to ensure the cultural material is preserved.

The Library considers that its copying programs achieve a preservation benefit when:

  • information is adequately captured and documented to meet the access needs of most users;
  • the original material is not damaged in the process (in some cases it may be enhanced by preparatory preservation work);
  • the demand for accessing the original material is reduced; and/or
  • the copies are able to be managed for long-term accessibility.

The Library has several policies which are relevant to this guideline, including:

Quality of scanned image for journals

The purpose of digitising hard copy journals is to create a faithful representation of the original source material for both preservation and access purposes. The hard copies should be prepared in a similar way as for microfilming. While targets, such as those used in microfilming, are not required in the digitisation process, documentation detailing anomalies in the content, such as missing pages, is important.

The following features of the scanned image must be achieved:

  • Variation in the positioning or alignment of the image (skew) to be within ±1 degree from parallel
  • All images should be of consistent size and dimension
  • Each page should be captured in a separate image. However when texts spread across two pages, both pages should be captured as one image so that the text is not cut in half and OCR’ing of the text is possible. See Fig. 1 and 2 in Appendix 1 for examples
  • Cropping
    • For journals in a bound volume, cropping should show the external edges of the entire volume with a small black border (up to 2 mm). This is to create an “authentic” look and feel for the volume, as well as minimise excessive cropping for thick volumes. See Fig. 3 in Appendix 1 for an example
    • For journal issues that are loose and not bound, crop just inside the edge of the page with a small border (up to 2 mm)
    • An exception for all journals is to crop the edge for the gutter as closely as possible. This is to facilitate the page turning mechanism in the delivery interface
  • Good contrast between the text and background that faithfully reflect the original material
  • Blank pages (including the back of a plate) that are numbered as part of a sequence, or required to maintain the left/right sequence of the original book, should be captured. However, do not capture transparent inserts
  • Fold-out pages or other inserts should be unfolded and captured as one image. It is not required to capture the page with the fold-out page or inserts folded in
  • All pages should be scanned in the same orientation as the majority of the pages even if the text on a particular page is printed in a different orientation.
  • No show-through which obscures the legibility of the front of the sheet
  • No overlapping documents
  • No duplicate images
  • The following technical standards must also be met:



File format

TIFF 6.0

Scanning ratio



400 ppi

Compression type


Colour space

24 bit colour (Adobe RGB 1998)

Technical metadata

Technical metadata must be included in the TIFF header of each image as described under Appendix 2 - Technical Metadata Requirements in this guideline.

File naming schema

  • File names must be unique for each image.
  • File names must follow a systematic naming convention.

For example:

Year-month-day-volume-number-title-page number.tif


[This file is for page 1 of Volume 1, Number 15 of New Publication which was published on 15 January 1869.]

  • The files for each individual journal should be contained within a separate folder on the storage device
  • All images within the folder to be numbered sequentially from –01

Supply of images to the National Library

In order for the images to be smoothly ingested into the Library’s systems the following must be supplied:

  • An inventory in Excel listing each issue of the title that has been scanned with the issue number, date of issue, number of pages and any notes on missing pages or irregularities.
  • Images must be supplied in tiff format on a portable hard drive. The hard drive will be returned at the end of the project.
  • Images must be quality checked to ensure that the images provided match the inventory. This includes checking for duplicate or missing pages in the images. The Library does not take responsibility for carrying out this detailed checking, however spot checks will be carried out.

Journal digitisation examples

Journal with text across the centre line circled in red.

Fig. 1. This centre spread should be scanned as one page because the text (circled in red) crosses over the centre line.

Journal centre spread with text separate on two pages

Fig. 2. This centre spread should be scanned as two pages. The headline text ‘Research Could Bring Freer Life – to Diabetics’ splits across two pages, but the main text of the article does not. In OCR processing the headline will be manually brought together so that it appears at the beginning of the article.

Journal pageJournal page

Fig. 3. Image should be cropped to show the entire volume, except the inner edge in the gutter


Technical metadata requirements

The National Library uses in-house software to ingest digital files of journal pages. In order for data to be accepted by the system, the following minimum metadata requirements must be met.




Example Data



The number of pixels per row

5184 (pixels)



The number of rows of pixels in the image

7016 (pixels)



Number of bits per component

24 for colour images



Compression scheme used on an image data




The colour space of the image data




The scanner manufacturer

Icam Archive Systems Ltd



The scanner model name or number

Guardian, SN# 415003



Horizontal pixel count per resolution unit (inches, centimetres)




Vertical pixel count per resolution unit (inches, centimetres)



Capture Software

Name and version number of the software package(s) used to create the image.

Phase One



Date and time of image creation.

2014-07-02 17:01:56 (YYYY:MM:DD HH:MM:SS)


Artist / creator

Person who created the image.

[Name of Scanning bureau]