You can attach supplemental PDF files to your EAD collection guides, in cases where you have longer collection inventories and other descriptive information that is not encoded in EAD. It's easy!

For an example of what this looks like, check out the "Additional Collection Guides" links at:

Prepare Supplemental PDF Files

Any supplemental PDFs you attach to an EAD file will also be full-text searchable within the OAC—meaning they will appear in OAC search results when users hit on any words within. This only applies to PDFs that have “embedded text,” for example those that have been generated from Word documents or have been scanned using OCR. Simple images of the document in PDF format will not be indexed and therefore will not be searchable.

Not sure about your PDF? Open it in a PDF reader. If you can copy and paste text to another document, or conduct a search using CTRL + F, it should be searchable in the OAC.

Also, in order to ensure users have some context for the PDF, we suggest adding some preliminary information on the first page of the PDF. For example:

  1. Collection title associated with the inventory/box list/container list/etc.
  2. Collection number
  3. Name of your repository
  4. Contact information for your repository, for reference questions

Submit Supplemental PDF Files

1. First, publish the EAD file (that is associated with the PDF files), following these instructions.

2. Upload the PDF files from your workstation to your PDF Production Directory on our server (here are instructions for creating a connection to our server to upload files).. The PDF files should be uploaded to the specific directory named after the EAD file, with which the PDF file(s) should be associated. Do not upload non-PDF file formats into the directory, or alter the directory (e.g., change the directory name, add subdirectories).

3. Next, update the EAD finding aid (that is associated with the PDF files) to include the outbound links to the PDF files. The following EAD encoding "template" can be used to build the link from the EAD file to supplemental PDFs, using the <otherfindaid> tag (within the top-level <archdesc> section) and a nested <extref> tag.

Within the <extref> HREF attribute: add a forward slash, followed by the exact name of the PDF file with the .pdf extension (e.g., "/ms104.pdf"). Note the specific use of the <extref> ROLE attribute, which must be set to "". Within the <extref> tag itself, provide a descriptive title for the supplemental PDF file (e.g., "Business correspondence inventory").

<head>Additional collection guides</head>
<extref href="/[PDF filename, with .pdf extension]" role="">[Descriptive title for the PDF file]</extref>

[For any additional PDFs, use additional <item>s, with a nested <extref>]


For schema-based finding aids, Xlink-specific attribute values need to be pre-pended with "xlink" to reference the Xlink namespace:

<extref xlink:href="/[PDF filename, with .pdf extension]" xlink:role="">[Descriptive title for PDF file]</extref>

For Archivists' Toolkit finding aids, use"ns2":

<extref ns2:href="/[PDF filename, with .pdf extension]" ns2:role="">[Descriptive title for PDF file]

4. Re-publish the EAD file (that is associated with the PDF files), again following these instructions.