Metadata Types

A project to list and define all the various metadata types.

There are different types of metadata that serve different purposes.  This page serves to catalog all the various types and define each type.  As the collection grows, we will group common types into a hierarchy, thus eventually creating a taxonomy of metadata types.

The format for our type descriptions will be: <type> - <definition> - [validity-indicator] ;(source); example: <example>.

  1. Descriptive Metadata - describing and identifying information resources - (?); (cornell library);  example: HTML meta tags
  2. Structural Metadata - facilitates navigation and presentation of electronic resources - (?); (cornell library); example:
    - also defined as - indicates how compound objects are put together, for example, how pages are ordered to form chapters by (NISO).
  3. Administrative Metadata - information on the administration of the data to include creation, storage and managemen; (cornell library); example:
  4. Preservation Metadata - Metadata related to the preservation management of information resources; (Getty Information Institute);
  5. Technical Metadata - Metadata related to how a system functions or metadata behave; (Getty Information Institute);
  6. Use Metadata - Metadata related to the level and type of use of information resources; (Getty Information Institute);
  7. Music Metadata - Music metadata is information such as the name of an artist, the name of an album and list of tracks that appear on an album. - (;
  8. Relational Database Metadata - In database terminology, this set of metadata is referred to as the catalog. The SQL standard specifies a uniform means to access the catalog, called the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, but not all databases implement it, even if they implement other aspects of the SQL standard. - (?) - (wikipedia);
  9. Data Warehouse Metadata - "we have been talking more confidently about the "back-room metadata" that guides the extraction, cleaning, and loading processes, as well as the "front-room metadata" that makes our query tools and report writers function smoothly."; (Ralph Kimball);
  10. File System Metadata - Nearly all file systems keep metadata about files out-of-band. Some systems keep metadata in directory entries; others in specialized structure like inodes or even in the name of a file. Metadata can range from simple timestamps, mode bits, and other special-purpose information used by the implementation itself, to icons and free-text comments, to arbitrary attribute-value pairs; (wikipedia);
  11. Image Metadata - Examples of image files containing metadata include Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) and Tagged Image File Format (TIFF). Having metadata about images embedded in TIFF of EXIF files is one way of acquiring additional data about an image. Image metadata are attained through tags. Tagging pictures with subjects, related emotions, and other descriptive phrases helps Internet users find pictures easily rather than having to search through entire image collections.- (wikipedia);
  12. Program Metadata - Most executable file formats include metadata describing issues that need to be considered by the runtime or operating system when executing the program.; (wikipedia);
  13. Document Metadata - Most programs that create documents, including Microsoft Word and other Microsoft Office products, save metadata with the document files. These metadata can contain the name of the person who created the file (obtained from the operating system), the name of the person who last edited the file, how many times the file has been printed, and even how many revisions have been made on the file. - (Note: same as Administrative Metadata); (wikipedia);
  14. <more here... >

Some metadata types described on the internet are mentioned but not defined

  1. Discovery Metadata -
  2. Geographic Metadata -
  3. Ratings Metadata -
  4. Categorization Metadata -

Overall themes extrapolated from the above.  One method for consolidation of the above list is that we should distinguish the purpose of the metadata from the target of the metadata with the target being a specialization of the purpose.

  • Context Metadata - metadata about the environment of a data resource.  
    • Categorization metadata
  • Lifecycle Metadata
    • administrative metadata
    • lineage metadata (aka provenance metadata)
    • File System Metadata  
  • Extension (aka amplification) Metadata
    • Digital Media Metadata - Music, Image, Video, ...

Discuss this list at