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An electronic record is

any combination of text, graphics, data, audio, pictorial, or other information representation in digital form that is created, modified, maintained, archived, retrieved, or distributed by a computer system.[1]

U.S. government[]

An electronic record is

[a]ny information that is recorded in a form that only a computer can process and that satisfies the definition of a Federal record in 44 U.S.C. [§]3301.[2]


Electronic records come in many forms: text documents, e-mails, Web pages, digital images, videotapes, maps, spreadsheets, presentations, audio files, charts, drawings, databases, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and more. They may be complex digital objects that contain embedded images (still and moving), drawings, sounds, hyperlinks, or spreadsheets with computational formulas.

Some portions of electronic records, such as the content of dynamic Web pages, are created on the fly from databases and exist only during the viewing session. Others, such as e-mail, may contain multiple attachments, and they may be threaded (that is, related e-mail messages that are linked into e-mail threads).


  1. 21 C.F.R., Part 11, §11.3(6).
  2. EPA, Vocabulary Catalog List Detail - Records Glossary (full-text).