<ead> Encoded Archival Description

<ead> is the outermost wrapper element for an EAD-encoded finding aid. As a wrapper element, it doesn’t contain any text of its own.


  • @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.
  • @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.”
  • @base – not required. May contain a URI to create a base URI used to resolve any relative URIs used within the child elements, if the base URI differs from the base URI of the EAD instance.
  • @id – not required. Creates an ID for element. Can be used for linking.
  • @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.
  • @relatedencoding – not required. This attribute can be used to denote the descriptive encoding system to which certain EAD elements can be mapped using the @encodinganalog attribute. It can be set in <ead>, <control>, and <archdesc>. Setting it at a lower level than <ead> allows one to map different sections to different encoding systems.
  • @script – not required. Four-letter code that indicates the script in which the element’s contents were written. It should come from ISO 15924.

Child Elements

<ead> must contain <control> first, followed by <archdesc>. These elements must be used sequentially.


A basic layout:


Changes from EAD 2002

The changes from EAD 2002 may be described as both minimal and substantial. <control> replaced the function of <eadheader> and brought it more in line with EAC-CPF, a generally more technical focus. <frontmatter> was deprecated as its function was primarily duplicative and meant to mimic paper rather than provide description. Proper XSLT should be able to recreate the function using elements within <control> and <archdesc>. <archdesc> remains.

<ead> also gained @lang and @script, as did almost all of the elements in the schema. It gained @base as well, in case one wishes to designate a common URI for resolving relative URIs within child elements.

EAD3 Tag Library Entry

View the official tag library entry for <ead>