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Records Management Tip Sheet 3 - Transitory Records

Transitory records are records of temporary usefulness, having no ongoing value beyond an immediate and minor transaction or for the preparation of another record.  Transitory records should be deleted when no longer needed.

Examples of Transitory Records:

  • Documents with temporary usefulness
  • Documents containing minor transactions
  • Documents used to prepare a subsequent record such as some forms or simple emails used to create or update a record
  • Newsletters
  • System-generated notifications
  • Preliminary drafts no longer needed
  • Routine replies/requests for information
  • Emails sent as reference or for informational distribution
  • Emails used to set up or accept/decline meetings
  • Announcements or acknowledgements
  • Notices you receive
  • FYI messages where no action is required by you
  • CC messages when issue is resolved and no action is required from you
  • Personal non-work-related emails should be kept separate from work-related records
  • Publications, blank forms, reference materials
  • Extra copies of outdated or superseded publications or documents created by your department: Retain at least 1 or 2 copies for your records or Archives as appropriate
  • Non-informative notes such as telephone messages that do not have substantive content
  • Advertising or promotional material
  • Failed printouts or output records that are unusable
  • Intermediate input records or transaction files where the official record is updated, if the source documents are not needed for financial, legal, audit or other purposes
  • Audio or video recordings that have been transcribed or notes used to create letters, papers, reports, minutes, transcripts, etc.
  • Records that do not contain substantive input or insight into the evolution of a final document


Examples of Records that ARE NOT Transitory

Records containing substantive, meaningful or important content should be kept for the retention period defined in the University's Records Retention Schedule.

  • Recors containing personal information must be kept for a minimum of one year under FIPPA
  • Drafts and versions of legal documents including contracts, claims and other legal matters, particularly records with substantive comments regarding the evolution, negotiation of and decision-making processes.  Consult with Legal Services for advice as needed.
  • Major changes to policies or approaches which may have long term historical or research value
  • Budget-related information decisions
  • Envelopes or fax cover sheets where the postmark or confirmation of sent-receipt is needed
  • Annotations or comments that document significant or important processes or decisions
  • Periodic snapshot printouts of database content which document a significant point in time
  • Project documents should be retained by the project leader.  Other team members should send important information to the project lead for recordkeeping purposes.
  • Significant stages in the preparation of official documents
  • Investigation notes that may be required as backup for reports
  • Records describing or explaining a university administrative decision already made or to be made in the future


When and How to Purge

  • Review and delete transitory information immediately as this will reduce the clutter in your emails, personal drives, and devices as well as shared drives
  • If it is challenging to purge immediately, then schedule regular times to review and delete, such as weekly or monthly
  • Remember, when dealing with paper records, the method of destruction must match the sensitivity of the information.  Paper records containing highly-sensitive information should be cross-cut shredded or placed in Campus Confidential Shredding Containers while public or reference information can be recycled.  When in doubt about the sensitivity of information, treat the information as sensitive and destroy securely.


Contact for further advice.

Remember - It’s better to err on the side of caution, do not destroy records if you are unsure, consult with someone else or contact us for advice.

We will update this Tip Sheet with additional examples as we come across them.