We use the Goldmine Standard for grading our records.
S: Sealed Album
MINT (M): Perfect! This record looks like it has just left the manufacturer, with NO flaws what so ever. It looks as though it had never been handled. No scuffs or scratches, blotches or stains. No stickers address labels, writing on the covers or labels. No tears or seam splits. No wear to the cover or record period! Age of the record has nothing to do with it.
NEAR MINT or NM, M-: this record appears virtually flawless A very minor scuff and very little else can appear on the vinyl. It should play without any noise over the flaw. The flaw is very hard to see. The cover looks as close to perfect with only minor signs of wear and or age. Minor impressions to the cover (due to the outer edge of the vinyl resting inside) may be acceptable, however the artwork is be as close to perfect as can be.
EXCELLENT or EX or VG++ : minor scuffs which are only slightly visible. There may be more than a few scuffs and NO Scratches COVER: Artwork is still as close to perfect as can be. Some impression to the cover (minor outer ring wear) but no ink wear! Some slight creases to the corners, but not wrinkled and obtrusive to the eye. The corners can show white (where the artwork pasted slick was) meaning, slight wear. No seam splits or writing on the cover or taped repairs can make this grade.
VERY GOOD PLUS or VG+: record shows wear, surface scuffs. The vinyl still has a great luster, but the flaws will be noticeable to the naked eye. If the flaws don't cause any surface noise, the vinyl can still make the VG+ grade. COVERS: A virtually clean cover, but may have small writing on it.The artwork looks clean with slightly more aging. The back of the cover usually gives away the age of the cover. Flat white paper will be somewhat yellow yet no stains or mildew from water damage. Some minor wear to the seams or spine, but no tears or holes popping through. The corners will be slightly dog eared yet no crackly bends, defacing the artwork. In essence, a VG+ cover should have no more than 3 flaws mentioned.
VERY GOOD or VG: this record is a record that is good enough. They are not really going to look very good, but it will STILL play very good. there will almost always be some surface noise when they are played. The Dynamics should still be excellent, overpowering the surface noise. A VG record will appear well have been played but still have some luster. VG covers will look worn, used. There may be some seam splitting . There will be some ring wear, where the ink has begun to wear off. Giving the cover a look of snow falling. If the artwork looks snowy all over, it is less than VG condition. There may be some writing on the cover (still, no Large letters in magic marker). It will look aged and more yellowish due to contamination's in the air (sometimes looking like cigarette smoke). Still it should be decent.
GOOD or G: A good record will look very well played, dull, grayish and possibly abused. However a Good record should still play. It will have distracting surface noise. Such as crackle that is continuous or some hiss. Will also have some loss of dynamics caused from grooves being worn. It should play without any skips or any obtrusively loud pops or repeated clicks, caused by deep scratches. Good means that it will play with some form of decency, so one can still enjoy the music even though you can still hear noise caused from the wear. A Good cover will have just about everything wrong with it. It will have seam splits (possibly taped repaired, but only with scotch tape. No duct tape or masking tape repairs. These are big turn offs. May have magic marker writing on the cover but still if they are in huge letters, it is a big turn off.In essence, the cover will looked virtually trashed, but some artwork will still be noticed. If the artwork is worn, it is POOR and the cover is worthless.
On a scale from 1 (Poor) to 10 (Perfect) the above gradings are equivalent to: MINT - 10, Near Mint - 8, Excellent - 7, Very Good Plus - 6 , Very Good - 5 , Good - 2
Source: Goldmine Magazine