Extensive examples of documentation are provided. The descriptions of syntax and stylistic elements do not depend on whether documentation is produced manually or as a machine-readable text file. The manual covers a history of the project which produced the data file, evolution of the data from the point of collection until conversion to machine-readable form, a summary of the data file's data processing history, and a dictionary listing of the data items in the file. Also discussed are rules of good practice for producing and documenting machine-readable data files. Appendixes contain glossaries, error listings, bibliographies, and other information. The national criminal justice information and statistics service (NCJISS) supported the development of this manual to aid criminal justice analysts and researchers who develop machine-readable data sets. A checklist for documentation and a set of technical standards are also included.