Records Management :: Microfilming:: Problem Areas when Using Microfilm

Problem Areas when Using Microfilm

Imaging Services strives to provide copies of the best quality microfilm possible, regardless of the state of the documents when sent to the secretary of state's office. However, certain factors must be considered when creating microfilm.

A microfilm copy of a document cannot be better than the original document. Several factors can degrade microfilm reproduction: the color of the paper used, the type of print or ink used and whether the document has been poorly carbon-copied or photocopied. The best document for filming is white paper with dark black ink or darkly typed or printed information. In some instances, certain measures can be taken to enhance or improve poor-quality documents for filming.

Documents printed on colored paper have a negative effect on the appearance of microfilm. For instance, black type on red paper will not allow sufficient contrast and will result in a light, illegible microfilm copy. Microfilm equipment is designed to detect whether documents are white or colored but is not capable of determining shades within a color or automatically detecting which inks are used.

A white document with pre-printed or typed information and lightly penciled-in information will be legible with the exception of the penciled-in areas. The same is true for any other colored inks or pencils, with the exception of dark blue or black.

Occasionally, documents are filmed upside down or sideways. When this occurs, it usually indicates that the document was tattered or torn at the leading edge. In order to avoid a paper jam (which could destroy the document), operators are instructed to turn the document sideways or upside down for filming.

A jammed document will appear "stretched" and distorted on the film. This occurs when the document hangs on the transport system of the camera. All jammed documents are repaired and re-filmed, usually immediately following the jam on the film.

Unfortunately, micrographics cannot make all documents appear the same on film when the documents do not exhibit the same characteristics from one page to the next. In an effort to produce high-quality microfilm, Imaging Services complies and conforms to the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) guidelines for microfilming. This means that each and every roll of microfilm produced undergoes a series of tests to determine that it meets or exceeds the ANSI standards. If a roll of microfilm does not pass our stringent inspection, adjustments are made to the equipment, and the entire roll is then re-filmed.