National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Print to paper

Printing to paper results in the loss of functional properties or other behavioural characteristics that the object had when in digital form.

Consider, for example, a printed representation of an email. Audio or video files attached to emails can not be printed and will be lost if this preservation strategy is selected. Databases are another example: they were not designed to be printed out, and printed database content is nothing but a representation of selected database content that never existed as original data.

It follows therefore that the advantages of digital information (accessibility, full text searches and queries, etc) cannot be exploited when digital objects are only preserved in printed form.

In practical terms, the printing of digital record is an inadequate preservation strategy which results in the loss of certain properties and information from the digital representation of the record.