<dao> Digital Archival Object

<dao> is a linking element that uses the attributes @entityref or @href to connect the archival finding aid information to electronic representations of the described materials. This allows the content of an archival collection or record group to be included in the finding aid. These may include images (graphics or scanned text), a/v clips, and transcriptions of text. It may be used for everything from examples to digital surrogates for an entire collection.

<dao> may be used within <did>.


  • @actuate – not required. Designates whether object is displayed automatically or if requested. Values may be: onload, onrequest, other, or none.
  • @altrender – not required. Use if the content of the element should be displayed or printed differently than the rendering established in a style sheet for other occurrences of the element.
  • @arcrole – not required. URI preference that identifies a resource that describes some property of an arc-type or simple-type linking element.
  • @audience – not required. Use to set whether the element’s contents will be visible to external users or to internal ones. Possible values are: “internal” and “external.”
  • @coverage – not required. Defines whether the object represents to the whole or just part of the materials. Possible values: whole, part.
  • @daotypeREQUIRED. Values may be: borndigital, derived, unknown, otherdaotype.
  • @entityref – not required. The name of a nonparsed entity declared in the declaration subset of the document that points to a machine-readable version of the cited reference.
  • @href – not required. The locator for a remote resource in a simple or extended link. Takes the form of a URI unless the locator is within the document that contains the linking element.
  • @id – not required. Creates an ID for element. Can be used for linking.
  • @identifier – not required. A machine-readable unique identifier. This may in some way be related to the object being represented.
  • @label – not required. This can be used when a meaningful display label for an element can’t be derived by the stylesheet from its name. It is available in all <did> subelements.
  • @lang – not required. Three-letter code that indicates the language in which the element’s contents were written. It should come from ISO 639-2b.
  • @linkrole – not required. Any URI reference that identifies some resource that describes the intended property.
  • @linktitle – not required. Information that serves as a viewable caption which explains to users the part that a resource plays in a link.
  • @localtype – not required. This attribute may be used within a number of elements. Its use and values are not defined by the schema and may be defined locally.
  • @otherdaotype – not required. If @daotype is other, @otherdaotype must be used to specify a value.
  • @script – not required. Four-letter code that indicates the script in which the element’s contents were written. It should come from ISO 15924.
  • @show – not required. Defines whether a remote resource appears at the point of the link, in a new window, or replaces the link. Optional values are: new, replace, embed, other, or none.
  • @xpointer – not required. The locator for a remote resource in a simple or locator link. The @xpointer attribute takes the form of a URI plus a reference, formulated in xpointer syntax, to a sub-resource of the remote resource. @xpointer enables linking to specific sections of a document that are relative, i.e., based on their position in the document or their content, rather than by reference to a specific identifier such as an ID.

Child Elements

<dao> may contain the <descriptivenote> element, which is used to encode further information about the <dao> element. This replaces the <daodesc> element. It needn’t be used if the other descriptive information within <did> is sufficient. All other information must be contained by attributes.


<dao daotype="derived" href="https://eadiva.com/wizlib-files/salamanders.jpg" localtype="portion" show="embed">
		<p>Sample portion of a scroll on the care of salamanders</p>

Changes from EAD 2002

<dao> itself didn’t change much functionally from EAD 2002, although <daodesc>, <daogrp> and <daoloc> were deprecated. Former child element <daodesc> was replaced by child element <descriptivenote>.

It did gain or alter a number of attributes. It gained @daotype (required, with values: borndigital, derived, unknown, otherdaotype), @lang, @otherdaotype (to handle the “otherdaotype”), and @script. @show and @actuate both had two possible values change to “other” and “none” instead of showother/actuateother and shownone/actuatenone. @role changed to @linkrole for greater clarity. It lost @linktype since all links are now deemed “simple” and xlink is no longer being used. It may now only be used within <did>.

EAD3 Tag Library Entry

View the official tag library entry for <dao>