Metadata means “data about data” or data that describes other data. The prefix “meta” typically means “an underlying definition or description” in technology circles


Metadata makes finding and working with data easier – allowing the user to sort or locate specific documents. Some examples of basic metadata are author, date created, date modified, and file size. Metadata is also used for unstructured data such as images, video, web pages, spreadsheets, etc.

Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe content within a web page. Search engines can use this data to help understand the content within a page.

Metadata can be created manually or through automation. Accuracy is increased using manual creation as it allows the user to input relevant information. Automated metadata creation can be more elementary, usually only displaying basic information such as file size, file extension, when the file was created, for example.

Metadata can be stored and managed in a database, however, without context, it may be impossible to identify metadata just by looking at it. Metadata is useful in managing unstructured data since it provides a common framework to identify and classify a variety of data including videos, audios, genomics data, seismic data, user data, documents, logs.

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What is Metadata?

Metadata is “data about data.” It is structured data that references and identifies data to give an essential extra layer of shorthand information. Metadata schema can be simple or complex but it provides an important underlying definition or description.

Types of Metadata

There are three main types of metadata:

Structural Metadata – examples include:

  • Page Numbers
  • Sections
  • Chapters
  • Indexes
  • Tables of Contents

Administrative Metadata – examples include:

  • Technical Metadata – Decoding and rendering files information
  • Preservation Metadata – Information necessary for the long-term management and archiving of digital assets
  • Rights Metadata – Information relating to intellectual property and usage rights

Descriptive Metadata – examples include:

  • Unique identifiers (eg ISBN)
  • Physical attributes (eg file dimensions or Pantone colors)
  • Bibliographic attributes (eg author or creator, title, and keywords)
Metadata Management

Metadata management is the administration of data that describes other data. To manage metadata effectively there must be established policies.
Metadata management is important for understanding, aggregating, grouping and sorting data for use. Over the last decade, the rapid growth of data has created the need for metadata management to provide a clear insight into what data to produce and what data to consume. This ensures data becomes a valuable enterprise asset.

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