n.an appraisal technique in which a limited number of typical records or files in a series are selected for retention to represent that seriesCook 1991b, 39–40Exemplary selection chooses groups of similar files from a series to obtain a qualitative reflection of the whole or of some predetermined significant characteristic of the whole. As with sampling, the focus is on the collective grouping of files chosen, not on any individual file. Where a sample is impossible or impractical, or more often unnecessary given the existence of other sources (electronic records, aggregate reports, etc.), the exemplary selection method can be used to gain a sense of the qualitative information “typical” of the series or some important feature of it.NARA 1999Physical features that are unique or curious might include quality and texture of paper, color, wax seals, imprints and watermarks, inks, and unusual bindings. All records having a particular physical feature would not be considered to have intrinsic value because of this feature; however, an exemplary selection of each type would be considered to have such value.National Archives 2005, 6Exemplary Selection / Suitable for: File series where a particular grouping of files are thought to be representative of the whole series and there is homogeneity both within and between groups. Example: Particular instance papers such as benefit claims where a convenient grouping could be all the files dealt with by a particular person or office, or all files opened within a defined time period. The group would be chosen because it is seen to be representative of the series as a whole.
In exemplary selection, the archivist retains exemplars of an homogeneous series of records to represent the whole. In such cases, the specific actions described in the records are not important in and of themselves; what is important is documenting the overall actions of an entity or how that entity created records. For instance, retaining case records of only a few of dozens of regional offices would reasonably document the overall work of those offices, while enormously reducing the bulk of records retained.