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Why Is Document Version Control So Important?

Why Is Document Version Control So Important?

Version Control


Why is Version Control Important?

Version control is important when documents are being created, and for any records that undergo a lot of revision and redrafting or annual reviews. It helps us to track changes and identify when key decisions were made along the way. It is particularly important for electronic documents that are being reviewed by a number of different users.

version control

Knowing which version of a document you are looking at is important if you are trying to find out which version of a policy is currently in force, or which version of a policy was in use at a particular time. It forms good records keeping practice which is particularly important in meeting our obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

The aim of this document is to provide best practice guidance for applying version control to different types of document at the University of Nottingham. This guidance covers best practice use of:

1. File Naming conventions
2. Version Numbers
3. Version Control Tables
4. Document control Tables

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File Naming Conventions
At the simplest level you can use file naming conventions to identify the version of a document. Use
the file name of the document to determine both the version and status alongside the subject , for

Records Management Policy Draft v0.1
Records Management Policy Draft v0.3

Records Management Policy v1.0
Records Management Policy v1.1 (note: first revision – minor)
Records Management Policy v2.0

Remember to update the version number on the file name as well as the header (or footer) of the document itself. It is easy to update a document and forget to rename the version number on either the file name or the document which can lead to confusion.

Unless you don’t need to keep previous versions of the document, always save updated versions as ‘Read-only’ tag to ensure you are forced to create a new version the next time to go to update it.

File naming conventions alone will not tell you who made the change and what the change was. If it is important to record this information use a version control table.

Version Numbers
Version numbering helps to distinguish one version of a document from another. For some documents, you may decide that a simple numbering system consisting of consecutive whole
numbers is sufficient to help you keep track of which version you are working on. However, documents that go numerous stages of development before a final version is reached, and for those that are developed through input by multiple individuals, you may decide to adopt version numbers to keep track of both minor and major changes to that document.

Minor Revisions
Minor revisions are small changes made to a document such as spelling or grammar corrections, and other changes that… Minor revisions to a document are reflected by making
increments to the decimal number.

Major Revisions
Major revisions are changes to a document that require the document to be re-approved (either by an individual or a group). Major revisions are reflected by incrementing the whole number by 1.
document control version control
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document control version control
Remember – when electronically storing documents, it is often best practice to include the date at the front in reverse, as computers store files incrementally. So – 1st March 2021 becomes 20210301.

If you need to create, review or execute your Governance. Risk or Compliance strategy, call us today on

UK 0800 669 0190 or Int 0207 097 1434 or email

This guide is only an aide memoire and intended for information only for anyone appraising the documentation needed in an audit/compliance check. It is not to be considered as direct advice or intended to replace specific 1 to 1 engagement with your compliance and risk professional.
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