Arrangement and Description

After acquisition of archival records, the Public Records Office (PRO) would conduct arrangement and description. These processes establish physical and intellectual control over archival records, facilitating users to find the records they need.


The process of taking physical and intellectual control of the acquired records is called 'records accessioning'. In this process, a sequence of different activities are involved including preliminary sorting of the records, registering the essential information about the records and creators and providing suitable storage for their long term preservation.

Records appraisal
Records appraisal

Stamping and marking records as part of records accessioning

Records appraisal
Records appraisal

Relocating records into polypropylene archival storage boxes as part of records accessioning


Arrangement is the processes of organising records in accordance with their provenance and original order so as protect their context.

How are records arranged in PRO?

In PRO, the newly acquired records are arranged under either Hong Kong Record Series (HKRS) or Hong Kong Manuscript Series (HKMS). HKRS comprises government records with archival value while HKMS comprises private records donated to PRO by organisations and individuals as well as reproduction copy of records relating to Hong Kong purchased from other archives institutions.

Records appraisal

Grouping of Newly Acquired Records in PRO

Archival records are arranged according to their origins (i.e. creator) and original order and they would usually be organised into 5 levels:


Description is the process of analysing and recording information about the archival records and creating a finding aid or other access tools that will facilitate users in identifying the records they need.

How are records described in PRO?

We describe the records according to international standards, such as International Standard Archival Description [General] (ISAD(G)) and Encoded Archival Description (EAD). The descriptive information of the archival records will be input into our online catalogue @PRO which provides easy and convenient on-line search.

Front cover of ISAD(G) second edition

The descriptive information mainly include the following elements:

  • series / deposit title
  • creating agency
  • transferring agency
  • covering dates
  • number of records / extent
  • medium of records
  • archival history
  • scope and content
  • appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
  • accruals
  • arrangement system
  • conditions governing access
  • conditions governing reproduction
  • language and scripts
  • physical characteristics & technical requirement
  • existence of viewing/duplicated copy
  • access status
selection criterion