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A generalized record organization is proposed from which many flxed and variable length records of hierarchical and network formats can be derived. In developing the generalization, attempts are made to characterize the record organization. By identifying the characteristics of the record organization, it is possible to segregate, for storage, the global record structural information from the local and nonstructural information. Such a segregation can lead to more efficient use of storage, ease of reorganizing the records, and the possibility of multiple organizations for the same set of records. A scheme for specifying the generalized record organization is provided and illustrated.