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14.1. Abbreviations


Abbreviations are used to represent legal periods and records retention periods for several reasons:

Records Retention Procedures uses these same abbreviations. Many records retention schedules also use some type of abbreviation.

You may modify user-defined abbreviations or create new ones. Default system abbreviations cannot be edited.

Legal Periods

Legal periods represent periods stated in laws that may affect the retention of your records. Common legal periods include specific retention periods, statutes of limitation and limitations of assessment. Laws that require you to keep records but do not state a specific retention period can also be converted to a legal period.

The following abbreviations for legal periods are used in the Legal Research Index and in the Legal Group Index for the minimum and maximum legal requirements and legal considerations periods:

Legal retention periods are expressed in years by default, unless months or days are specifically added as a suffix.

Please note that legal periods are used only in the Legal Research Index, not for inputting user retention periods in either Legal Groups or Retention Rules.

Records Retention Periods

Records retention periods reflect the actual periods you will keep records for legal, user, total or other purposes. They represent your assessment of how long users need records to do their jobs and how long your organization needs to keep records to comply with the law or protect itself from legal consequences. You will use judgment, experience and expertise to determine these periods.

The following abbreviations of retention periods are used in the Records Retention Schedule, the Records Listing With Records Retention Periods and the Legal Group Index for selected and total legal retention periods.

Records retention periods are expressed in years by default, unless months or days are specifically added as a suffix.

Please note that record retention periods are used for user retention periods in Legal Groups and Retention Rules.  Legal periods are for display in the Legal Group Index only, not for user input.


You will need to perform comparisons and calculations on legal and records retention periods to complete the following steps of the records retention program.

You can quickly determine the longest numeric retention period by comparing the numerical values. But comparisons generally are not that easy. Many periods use alphabetic abbreviations to generally reflect starting points for retention or events. Other retention periods consist of combinations of alphabetic abbreviations and numerical values.

The following sections provide some of the rules for comparing legal or retention periods. If you use different abbreviations, you should also establish appropriate rules.

Alphabetic Abbreviations

Alphabetic abbreviations either reflect the starting time or event for retention purposes (e.g., ACT -- keep the records while they are active) or a special condition relating to retention (e.g., IND - Keep the records for an "indefinite" period). Even though they are non-numeric expressions, they must still be compared to determine the longest period among several entries.

The following alphabetic abbreviations are listed in their general order of precedent (longest to shortest retention periods).

Some alphabetic conditions such as ACT may actually be shorter than CY. The abbreviation ACY (active plus current year) was developed to resolve that conflict. The MAX designation may also be shorter than CY in some circumstances, but could be longer in others.

Alpha-numeric Abbreviations

Frequently, a specific period of time (e.g., 5 years) is modified by an alphabetic abbreviation (e.g., CY). The resulting alpha-numeric expression reflects the combination of the two periods (e.g., CY+5). For consistency, state the alphabetic portion first and then the numeric value. Place a "+" between the part to indicate that the periods are added together. If the periods are not added together (e.g., MAX3), no plus sign is used.

Determining the Longest Period

The longest legal or retention period can generally be determined by following these rules:

The following exceptions also apply:

The examples below indicate the total retention periods based upon the legal and user periods:

Legal Period
User Period Total Period
3 4 4
3 CY+1 3
ACT+3 6 ACT+6
ACT+3 ACT+$4 ACT+4
ACT+3 CY+3 ACT+4
ACT+3 CY+3 ACY+3
2 MAX3 2









 Please contact Technical Support if there are additional questions.

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