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About Keyword Classification

Classification is a fundamental function in records management. Classification is the

systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods, and procedural rules represented in a classification system."
(AS ISO 15489.1, 3.5)

In records management, records are classified according to business functions and activities which generate the records. This functional approach to classification means that classification can be used for a range of records management purposes, including appraisal and disposal, determining handling, storage and security requirements, setting user permissions, as well as providing a basis for titling and indexing.


A thesaurus is a tool that supports the classification and management of records, usually at the file level. In a keyword thesaurus:

  • keywords are allocated to describe broad business functions
  • activity descriptors describe business activities, and
  • subject descriptors are used to describe subjects or topics that connect related business transactions.

The keywords and descriptors are authorised terms. These authorised terms can be supplemented by some free text, such as the name of an organisation, an individual or a project. The terms are arranged hierarchically from the broadest to the most specific concept: keyword – activity descriptor – then subject descriptors and/or free text.

While commonly associated with registry or file based systems, keyword thesauri can be used for records in any format and in any technological environment.

More information

More information on the nature and purpose of keyword thesauri is available in State Records' Guideline 15 - Developing and implementing a keyword thesaurus. The two articles listed below can be consulted for additional information regarding the methodology behind Keyword AAA and Keyword for Councils:

If you have an enquiry or require advice about the keyword products please contact us.