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Revision Number, Revision Date or Both?
Posted on May 3rd, 2013

Using revision dates and revision numbers are both common document control methods for identifying the current version of the document. Some companies use both dates and numbers. What is actually required?

As part of Document control, the ISO 9001 standard requires that you

“ensure that changes and the current revision status of documents are identified”.

This is to make sure that if I find a paper copy or keep a copy on my hard drive, I will be able to see what version it is AND if it is the most up-to-date version.

Usually, this means there is revision information on the document itself (e.g. in the footer) and a document register that lists the current versions of all your controlled documents. For more details on what is required by the standard for document control, have a look at Control of Documents in our resources section.

Is it really necessary to use revision numbers AND dates?

No.

The standard does not specify what method you must use, simply that you have an effective method. You can choose what works for you. If you want to use colour codes instead of dates or numbers to mark revisions, that is completely up to you. But you MUST be able to demonstrate that it works effectively.

We recommend just using the date and dispensing with revision numbers for your internal documents It is very easy to determine what the revision date should be, and you don’t need complicated revision number schemes…

e.g., this complicated scheme from NIH.gov

__The first draft of a document will be Version 0.1.
Subsequent drafts will have an increase of “0.1” in the version number, e.g., 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, …0.9, 0.10, 0.11.
The first final version of a document will be Version 1.0. Include the date when the document becomes final.
Subsequent final documents will have an increase of “1.0” in the version number (1.0, 2.0, etc.).
Final documents undergoing revisions will be Version X.1 for the first version of the revisions. While the document is under review, subsequent draft versions will increase by “0.1”, e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. When the revised document is deemed final, the version will increase by “1.0” over the version being revised, e.g., the draft 1.3 will become a final 2.0.__

Note that even if you only use dates for your internal documents, your Document Register will still need a column for both numbers and dates to allow you to track external documents with revision numbers.

For more on document control, have a look at Control of Documents in our resources section, and also the section on Document Control in our user guide.

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