Metadata styles and standards

A metadata style configures ArcGIS to create the metadata you want. Choosing a metadata style is like applying a filter to an item's metadata. The style controls how you view the metadata and also the pages that appear for editing metadata in the Description tab. A metadata style may be designed to support a metadata standard or profile. If so, the style will determine how metadata is exported and validated for that standard or profile.

The default Item Description metadata style

The default Item Description metadata style lets you see and edit a simple set of metadata properties for an item. Only one page of information is available when editing metadata with this style. This style is designed to facilitate providing information that is used by ArcGIS; it is indexed and available for searching and can be published with the item to ArcGIS Online. The Item Description metadata style is straightforward and effective, suitable for anyone who doesn't need to adhere to specific metadata standards.

Edit an item's description

Some content on this page is the same for all items, including the title, thumbnail, description, and tags. Other content on the Item Description page is specific to one type of item. For example, a tool's description includes information about its parameters and can include example code.

For map, globe, and scene documents, and for layer files, the content that is available on the Item Description page can be edited both in the Description tab and in their Properties dialog box. Information provided in the Properties dialog box is part of the item's metadata.

View and edit a map document's description in its Properties dialog box

Other metadata styles

If you want to provide more information than is available on the Item Description page or if you must create metadata that complies with a metadata standard, choose a different metadata style. All styles other than the default provide access to an item's complete ArcGIS metadata.

Several metadata styles are provided with the current version of ArcGIS for Desktop to support different metadata standards:

All metadata styles other than the default are similar. They use the same XSLT stylesheet for display to ensure you can see all available content. The same simple description is shown at the top of the page, followed by sections that give you access to the rest of the information. When you click the Edit button, you'll see several pages in the editor's table of contents that let you provide complete metadata content for the item. All styles include the same Item Description page.

You can edit an item's complete metadata if you choose an appropriate metadata style

Other features are different for each metadata style. Some styles might include additional pages that let you provide content that is only appropriate for that style. For example, the INSPIRE style includes a Locales page that lets you provide the title and description in multiple languages. Some of the shared pages may also work a little differently for different styles. For example, with the North American Profile style, a country code can be provided along with a language code, for example, to identify the French language as being Canadian French.

About metadata standards and profiles

A metadata standard is a document identifying content that should be provided to describe geospatial resources such as maps, map services, vector data, imagery, and even nonspatial resources such as tables and tools that are relevant to your spatial work. A metadata standard may also provide an XML schema describing the format in which the content should be stored. Typically, a standard XML format is defined using XML Schema or document type definition (DTD). Standards are typically ratified by national or international standards bodies.

Many geospatial metadata standards are produced by ISO committees including ISO 19115 Geographic information — Metadata and ISO 19119 Geographic information — Services, which are content standards. In contrast, ISO 19139 Geographic information — Metadata — XML schema implementation, provides a set of XML Schemas that define the XML format in which ISO 19115 and ISO 19119 metadata content should be stored.

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) created the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) that has been used in the United States for many years; it is commonly referred to as the FGDC metadata standard. It is another example of a content standard. While there is an accepted format in which to store this content in XML format, there are also several other file formats that are commonly used to present the information.

A metadata profile is a document that modifies a metadata standard. A profile may reduce the overall number of metadata elements defined by a standard. A profile may further restrict the optionality of a metadata element, making it mandatory where before it was optional; however, a profile cannot make mandatory elements optional. A profile may further restrict the values allowed in a metadata element. Metadata profiles can be adopted by a standards body, agency, or organization in place of a metadata standard. One example of a metadata profile is the North American Profile of ISO 19115:2003 – Geographic information – Metadata that has been jointly created and adopted by the United States and Canada.

Whether by choice or by obligation, if you plan to create metadata that follows a standard or profile, obtain a copy of the standard or profile document. For ISO standards, you must purchase the document from ISO or the national organization that participates in ISO, such as ANSI, in the United States. Profiles should be available from the organizations that create them.

A metadata catalog is a collection of metadata describing items that are available from a wide range of sources. Metadata catalogs typically require metadata to follow a standard or profile because standardized information makes it easier for people from different communities, industries, and countries to share information and understand each other. Metadata catalogs may also suggest or require additional information that isn't mandatory in a metadata standard or profile to support enhanced search capabilities, such as searching by geographic location and time frame, by different categories of resources, and by the organization providing the resource. These search options only work if the information they relate to exists in the metadata. If you plan to publish metadata to a metadata catalog, be sure to account for the catalog's requirements in addition to those of a content standard or profile when you are editing metadata.

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