Best Practices for Digitization

The following quick reference guides are intended to help our contributors that choose to scan their own materials. If you have any questions, please contact Digital Library Services at the University of Minnesota Libraries. You can also find detailed information at the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative and Library of Congress Digital Preservation websites.

Quick Reference Guides


Adapted from Western States Digital Imaging Best Practices, Version 1.0 (January 2003).

  Master Copy
Spatial Resolution 3000-5000 pixels on the longest dimension
Spatial Dimensions 100% of original
Bit Depth 1 bit bitonal
8 bit grayscale
24 bit color
File Type TIFF
Compression none or lossless

Sample Resolutions for Common Photograph Sizes

Original Size 3000 pixels on longest dimension 5000 pixels on longest dimension
2" x 2" 1500 ppi 2500 ppi
3" x 5" 600 ppi 1000 ppi
4" x 7" 450 ppi 725 ppi
8" x 10" 300 ppi 500 ppi


Recommendation Level Master File Web Access File
Oral history and other spoken language broadcasts
  • File format: WAV / BWF
  • Sample rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit-Depth: 24 bit
  • Format: MP3
  • Bit Rate: 192 Kbps
High frequency / high quality source material (such as musical recordings)
  • File format: WAV / BWF
  • Sample rate: 96 kHz
  • Bit-Depth: 24 bit
  • Format: MP3
  • Bit Rate: 192 Kbps

Further Reading


Standards and best practices for video digitization projects vary widely. We direct you to some of the recent resources developed by both the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines project and the Library of Congress.

Further Reading