Conversion of Microsoft® Access Databases into EAD-encoded Finding Aids
Prepared by Gabriela A. Montoya, Electronic Text Unit, UC Berkeley Library
Special thanks to David MacGill at UCLA for his assistance
Document based on EAD Version 1.0

See also our tutorial on exporting and importing EAD into databases using perl here

Assuming the user has Microsoft® Access 97 and Microsoft® Word 97 installed on their desktop (for Windows® 95), the following is a brief guide to converting MS Access tables into EAD encoded finding aids.


In MS Access, open the database to be converted (fig. 1). One of the most important steps initially, is to carefully note how the table(s) is arranged; a bit of foresight now may save you a headache later. Depending on the layout of your table (columns), decide the sorting of your finding aid (by series, subseries, no series?).

Figure 1: Database cu-gen97.mdb with individual tables; table tab view.

Begin by selecting the Reports tab. Click on New (right side of window) which brings up the New Report dialog box. Highlight Design View. In the scroll box, select the table or query to be converted by clicking on the button. Select OK (fig. 2).

Figure 2: Design View for creating report.

The look/layout of your report is not important, but you might want to turn off the grid lines and the page headers/footers. Go to View, uncheck Grid and Page Header/Footer. You now have a blank report with Detail running along the top border (fig. 3).

Figure 3: Design View with grid, page headers/footers turned off.

Next, click on the Field List icon to the left of the toolbox icon to get a list of all the available fields in the table you've seleted (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Design View with Field List data box open.

Click on the Label icon. You'll notice that your cursor has now turned into the letter "A" with a small plus sign to the left of it. Once you draw and stretch your box, your cursor will return to normal. Draw a separate box for each section of markup before and after each field. Make sure you give ample height/length to your boxes. The example below demonstrates the steps taken to convert the "Box" field:

Figure 5

Steps 1. through 4. entail simple box drawing and the inclusion of markup for each section (Note: the box drawing and tagging is not complete here). Take extra care in making sure the markup you type in is correct.

Step 5. Highlight "Box" from the field list box (fig. 6) and drag it directly underneath the <container> box (directly below step 4.).

    Figure 6

Step 6. After dragging and dropping "Box", delete the label box to the left of box (click on it/delete).

Figure 7

Repeat steps 1. through 6. for all the remaining fields/tags.


  1. Save your report. File / Save /Report Name: (give it the same name as your table).

  2. Double click on the "Detail" bar (fig. 8) to bring up the section detail dialog box. Click on the "Format" tab and change Can Grow / Can Shrink to "YES".

    Figure 8: Double clicking brings up the section detail dialog box.

  3. File / Print Preview

  4. Click on the MS Word icon (this will output your job to MS Word)

  5. In Word, save your file as ASCII (it is vital that you save to ascii)

  6. Run a PERL script or macros to clean up the extra lines and spaces in your final document. This section may now be pasted into the rest of your marked up guide.


Full text of OAC (UC-EAD) grant proposal

Browse various online collections of EAD-encoded finding aids

The Library of Congress' EAD homepage

The OAC “toolkit” and other SGML-related software

The OAC ftp site

The Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE

This page maintained by Gabriela A. Montoya,
Last updated: 02/02/99