ISAD(G) (General International Standard Archival Description) defines the elements that should be included in an archival finding aid. It was approved by the International Council on Archives (ICA/CIA) as an international framework standard to register archival documents produced by corporations, persons and families.
ISAD(G) defines a list of elements and rules for the description of archives and describes the kinds of information that must and should be included in such descriptions. It creates a hierarchy of description that determines what information should be included at what level.
ISAD(G) defines 26 data elements of description, six of which are mandatory:
Previously it had been difficult to access repositories around the world due to the inconsistent description practices among different archives. The need for standardization of archival descriptions became apparent. After initial activities since 1988 supported by UNESCO, a subgroup of the AdHoc Commission on Descriptive Standards discussed the first draft of these standards beginning in 1990. The first version of ISAD(G) was released and adopted by the ICA in 1994.
In 1999, an evaluation of ISAD(G) was conducted in order to determine its effectiveness of describing datasets and to evaluate how it had been being used in data archives. After lengthy research and evaluation, the ICA published a revised version, the second edition, in 2000. Sometimes abbreviated as ISAD(G)2, the revised version remains the current standard today.
ISAD(G) has been adopted as a standard by various members. In the United States, for example, the local implementation of ISAD(G) is Describing Archives: A Content Standard (2006).