Guide To BBC’s Archives

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Project notes

Project type

Graphic design and information management for the BBC’s Archives Department — both printed and electronic.


The client needed an electronic format that could be emailed to staff members in a granular fashion, so that the staffer would receive only the document that was relevant to their enquiry. Simultaneously, they wanted something that could sit on somebody’s desk for quick and easy reference.


The client has envisaged a collection of documents, each one or two pages, which could be printed out and assembled into a ring binder file for ‘hard copy’ retention. Each of these documents would also exist as a PDF equivalent, ready to be emailed.

The documents fell into three categories, plus a Glossary. There was also a secondary set of documents dealing with Rights Management, which needed to be folded into the mix somehow. The various documents were being written and rewritten as the project got started.


From the outset we here at Shark Attack didn’t much like the idea of printing sheets out on a colour printer and throwing them into a WH Smith A4 ringbinder. That felt like a kludge, the sort of awkward solution that people use when they don’t have anything better to suggest.

Our suggestion was to produce the assembled documents as a proper, bound book. Each document would constitute 2-3 pages of the book and the book could be broken up into sections accommodating as many categories as necessary, plus the glossary and the rights management guidance section.

The page design of the book would be such that it would easily adapt to an A4 format; thus each 2-3 page ‘document’ from the book would also be made available as an individual A4 PDF document that could be emailed as necessary.

The client initially talked about an A4 book. However we argued that, with desk space at a premium, an A5 format would be more likely to remain on the staff member’s desk and thus actually get used.


Early plans to have the book enclosed within a slipcase were dropped due to the additional per-unit cost, but we did include a beautiful spot varnish on the book cover, making it a true object of desire — quite a leap forward from the original concept of a ring binder full of sheets from an office colour printer.



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Book cover and interior pages

The design of the book pages included an edging colour to differentiate the various sections. This ‘tab’ motif also served as an echo, of sorts, of the project’s original concept as being a ring binder.

The ‘tab’ was carried through to the cover, which had folding ‘dust cover’-like flaps that could serve as temporary page markers.

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