Use the descriptor instantiationDigital to identify the format of a particular instantiation of a media item as it exists in its digital form, i.e., as a digital file on a server or hard drive. Digital media formats may be expressed with formal Internet MIME types.


/ pbcoreDescriptionDocument / pbcoreInstantiation / instantiationDigital



1 time or less

May Contain:

4 or less optional attributes, specific:

Contained by:

Contained with:

[Any elements used MUST appear in this relative order]


  • <instantiationDigital source="IANA MIME Media types" ref="">H264</instantiationDigital>
  • <instantiationDigital source="IANA MIME Media types">vnd.dolby.mlp</instantiationDigital>
  • <instantiationDigital annotation="Flash Animation, .fla">application/octet-stream</instantiationDigital>


We recommend you use a MIME type to express your digital file format. MIME media types are available via the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. In addition, the UK National Archives’ PRONOM Technical Registry stores commonly used MIME types.

Not all file formats have a registered MIME type, however. If your format does not have a registered mimetype, use “application/octet-stream” and note in the annotation attribution what you know about the file format. The following may help you locate a MIME type or serve as a source for your annotation:

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