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How to cite public records

We ask that you accurately cite public records that you refer to or reproduce in papers, publications or exhibitions.

Records that have been cited accurately can be easily found by other people.  Full citations help people understand the history of a record.


Full citation

PROV, VA 538 Department of Crown Lands and Survey, VPRS 18185 General Correspondence Files (Botanic Gardens), RBGV04174, Descriptions of Camellias, 1947-1956,


Brief citation

PROV, VPRS 18185/P1, RBGV04174

This is the minimum information that someone needs to find a record that we hold.

  • The brief citation appears in the search results for, and on the catalogue page of, each record in our collection.
  • Sometimes a little more information (generally a date) is needed to uniquely identify a record in a series.
  • For an online citation you can use the catalogue reference as anchor text for the URL.



Citation elements explained


PROV Public Record Office Victoria
VA 538 Agency ID:  we assign numbers to all the agencies that transfer records to us. You can use this as shorthand on our website.
Department of Crown Lands and Survey

Agency title: the Victorian Government body that created this record.
(Many records have a list of several creators; pick the one that matches the record's date.)

VPRS 18185 Series ID: our shorthand for the collection or 'series' that this record is part of.
General Correspondence Files (Botanic Gardens) Series title: very helpful in understanding what the record might contain.
RBGV04174 Control symbol: (or item number) many series have a unique identifier for each record they contain.  A key piece of information for finding the record.
Descriptions of Camellias Record Item title: a primary description of the record. Different records may or may not have control symbols, titles or other descriptions.  We try to suggest the most compact unique identifier for each record as the citation.
1947-1956 Date: not every record is dated. Sometimes the date is needed to uniquely identify the record within the series.
CCD87E4B-F9F3-11E9-AE98-CF7B69C8162C Persistent identifier(a PID):  every record is permanently identified with a string of characters (a UUID).  The string forms part of the URL for the record in our catalogue, and is also registered with the Handle.Net Registry.  We intend that these URLs will always link to the web page for each record, now and in the future.



Changes to citation format (August 2021)

In August 2021 we publicly released a revision to the way we describe records in our collection. The main changes are:

  • Every record is now identified on the Web by a persistent identifier.  A page representing the record will always exist at the address of the PID.
  • We no longer use ‘Units’ to describe records.  Units might have referred to records or the containers that the records are stored in, and this becomes complex as we accession more and more born-digital records.

In the majority of cases existing citations (by series, consignment, unit and record ID) will identify the record correctly.  The main unique identifier of the record is the Record ID: its title, control symbol or description.  So an ‘old’ citation will direct you to the same record.  If you want to convert an old citation to a new citation simply remove the reference to the record's 'unit'.

In some cases records have been cited by their Unit number (for example VPRS 289/P0, unit 23 for a volume of the Ballarat Courts Petty Sessions Registers).  If you have come across a citation for a record by Unit number, we believe that in most cases the context for the citation (for example, a date) should push you towards locating the appropriate record.  Please contact us for advice.


More Information

Refer to our information on copyright for researchers if you wish to reproduce public records. 

If you wish to formally publish copies of records, we request you complete an application for permission to publish form.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples