Preferred Location for Revision History Section in Documents

Preferred Location for Revision History Section in Documents

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Sam Lazzara

Trusted Information Resource
For many years my preference has been to locate the Revision History of each document on page 1, at the top, below the document header (as shown in the attachment).

I think this is the best from a "document control" standpoint since it is the first thing you see when you open the document. I do not find it distracting since I like to look at it right away, to get oriented and to see how fresh/updated the document is. The only thing I do not like is that as the Rev History section grows, it pushes the body of the document lower into the document. One of my clients solves this by having the Rev History on page 1, followed by a page break before the body of the document - the main document always starts on page 2.

Others seem to prefer locating the Revision History at the back of the document.

And others don't want a Revision History to appear in the document at all.

What do others prefer? and why?
1. Rev History on page 1, with body of document beginning immediately after it.
2. Rev History on page 1, followed by a page break before the body of document begins.
3. Rev History on last page.
4. No Rev History in the document.

I realize your answer may be influenced by whether or not you utilize electronic document control software (eQMS). In that case I believe there are typically other ways to check on a document Rev History, so there is less reason to include it in the document itself.

Moderator Note - If you can help me to make this a Poll question, that would be great. I was not able to figure out how to do that. Thank you.


  • Preferred Location for Revision History Section in Documents
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Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
A document is a tool. The question is, who uses this tool? Who gains the most value from this tool? Where do the users want to see the revision (if any at all)?

Sam, I don't know what your role is within your organization or why you would be looking at a document, but in my experience the primary users of documents are the folks out on the floor (i.e., the operators).

Do they need to see the revision history front-and-centre when all they want to know verify is the correct activities that they need to do in order to get quality product further down the line and out the door?

Again, from my own experience, when a process changes and the document along with it, the training addresses the changes. The primary users don't need to see the history. They probably aren't too interested in the details of the change within the document, focusing more on the change within the actual process.


Trusted Information Resource
Where it is located isn't much of the matter, but my own preference is restricting it to overview of changes since last revision.

As you are retaining documents under control, revision histories contained across all revisions can still show a full picture of the changes. This also provides relatively more space per log entry to say what has changed.

Why say it in the document itself? The revision history/change log serves the purpose of highlighting what changed. What would you do with that: Change your way of working. Depending on the organisation, and sometimes even the time the change occurs, you will have 'read&understood' aspects creeping in here. This could be by choice (training method by policy), or by accident (away on vacation, missed the group training). It allows personnel not completely in step with regular training to catch-up.

This is also where it's important to note that revision history which only states a reason and/or the requesting party, but not the change(s) itself is typically ineffective later on.


Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
I don't see a value in having the rev history in the document at all.
With the doc coordination system, why bother having it in the document itself?

The current rev is what should be in play (is in play by default since I figure that's what "current rev" means)
What the doc used to say is fairly immaterial.


Involved In Discussions
I would tend to agree with the previous comments - the person using the document should generally not be concerned with previous versions of the document. Of course this does relate to how effective your processes are for training and communication of updates!

The key elements for me would be the revision number and the last time the document was reviewed. This can generally be located in the footer of the document and clears up any concern regarding when the document was last considered.

A revision and change record, to make sure that processes do not revert to a previous state, change management records are maintained and can be audited have always served me well - a simple spreadsheet to record this information should suffice in the absence of document management software.


Involved In Discussions
We still operate in a paper-based document control system. So, rather than have to update two documents every time (reprint, risk being out of synch especially if more than one is changing at the same time, etc.), I prefer to have the revision history in the document itself. I place it at the end, since the content of the document is generally more useful to the user than its revision history. We do retain copies of prior versions, but the revision history is a running one so you can see at a glance what changed across them rather than having to look at each one.
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