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Finedata Limited - Document Control Tutorial

Lesson 4 - Document Numbers and Revisions

Nearly all documents are subject to revision. This means that a document may be altered, edited or updated, and while its number may not be changed - its revision will. A document controller normally has little or no control over the format of document numbers or the sequence of revisions.

On some projects, document originators may be required to submit documents with the numbering subject to a fixed regime - breaking documents down into floors, disciplines or areas. In practice, however, it is often very difficult to get third parties (particularly the design team themselves) to follow any pattern accurately. Most document controllers come to accept that strange and apparently inconsistent document numbering on the part of originators is something they can do little about.

As stated in Lesson 2, a document controller may well need to enter document numbers into a computer system in a slightly different format to that seen on the document itself. For example changing '\' to '/' or 'padding' numbers with leading zeros (changing 1 to 001). Another variation often employed by experienced document controllers is to segregate all documents from all drawings by prefixing document numbers with an asterisk '*'. By doing this, most computers will place all the documents before the drawings when sorted by document number.

Revision numbering is another area where document controllers are subject to the whims of document originators. In an ideal world all revisions would follow a nice simple alphabetical, or numerical, sequence and revisions would only be submitted in the order they were drawn. Unfortunately, revision sequences tend to follow the sequences set-up by the document originator and, equally regrettably, originators WILL sometimes resubmit documents that are out of date.

Where a document is received that is out of date, where a newer revision has already been received, it is important not to issue it without care. In the rare event that a document has been submitted, revised and then returned to exactly the same state of the initial revision - the originator should 'rev-up' the document to the next number in their sequence, not revert to the original revision number. The document controller can, normally, return out of date documents to the originator as unacceptable, but when the originator is a member of the design team this may not be possible.

Where an originator submits the same document and revision twice, and the document is to all appearances up to date, it should not normally be registered twice if this can be avoided. An experienced document controller would often examine the document carefully to ensure that the originator has not updated the revision legend and neglected to update the actual revision. Where there is any doubt, the document controller should refer back to the originator. As stated in lesson 2, revisions can sometimes be entered into computer systems slightly differently to the way they appear on original documents - so to work round the problem of submitting the same document twice, a document controller might register the second copy using the revision followed by a period '.' or a dash '-'.

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