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Data Documentation / Metadata

Learn best practices for describing your data to support sharing and reusability. Includes discipline specific metadata standards and best practices.

Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts, primarily for but not limited to the humanities, social sciences and linguistics.

TEI: P5 Guidelines -

OxGarage Conversion Tool -

Roma - TEI Customization Tool -

"TEI Roma is a tool for working with TEI customizations. A TEI customization is a document from which you can generate a schema defining which elements and attributes from the TEI system you want to use, along with customized HTML or PDF documentation of it. The schema generated can be expressed in any of DTD, RELAXNG W3C Schema or Schematron languages."


TAPAS Project -

TAPAS is the TEI Archiving, Publishing, and Access Service hosted by Northeastern University Library's Digital Scholarship Group.


TEI Tools Wiki -

Visual Resources Association (VRA) Core

"VRA Core is a data standard for the description of works of visual culture as well as the images that document them."

Global Attributes

  • dataDate
  • extent
  • href
  • pref
  • refid
  • rules
  • source
  • vocab
  • xml:lang


  • work, collection, or image (id)
  • agent
    • attribution
    • culture
    • dates (type) earliestDate (circa) latestDate (circa)
    • name (type)
    • role
  • culturalContext
  • date (type)
    • earliestDate (circa)
    • latestDate (circa)
  • description
  • inscription
    • author
    • position
    • text (type)
  • location (type)
    • name (type)
    • refid (type)
  • material (type)
  • measurements (type, unit)
  • relation (type, relids)
  • rights (type)
    • rightsHolder
    • – text
  • source
    • name (type)
    •  refid (type)
  • stateEdition (count, num, type)
    • description
    • name
  • stylePeriod
  • subject
    • term (type)
  • technique
  • textref
    • name (type)
    • refid (type)
  • title (type)
  • worktype


The Core List (VRACORE@LISTSERV.LOC.GOV) is an unmoderated computer forum open to members of the VRA Core development community. It is operated by the Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards Office. Users may subscribe by filling out the subscription form at the VRACORE Listserv site.



Cataloging Cultural Objects

"Cataloging Cultural Objects: A Guide to Describing Cultural Works and Their Images (CCO) is a published manual for describing, documenting, and cataloging cultural works and their visual surrogates. The primary focus of CCO is art and architecture, including but not limited to paintings, sculpture, prints, manuscripts, photographs, built works, installations, and other visual media. CCO also covers many other types of cultural works, including archeological sites, artifacts, and functional objects from the realm of material culture." -


Ten Principles

  1. Establish the logical focus of each Work Record, whether it is a single item, a work made up of several parts, or a physical group or collection of works. Clearly distinguish between Work Records and Image Records.
  2. Include all the required CCO elements.
  3. Follow the CCO rules. Make and enforce additional local rules to allow information to be retrieved, repurposed, and exchanged effectively.
  4. Use controlled vocabularies, such as the Getty vocabularies and the Library of Congress authorities.
  5. Create local authorities that are populated with terminology from standard published controlled vocabularies as well as with local terms and names. Structure local authorities as thesauri whenever possible. Record and document decisions about local authorities.
  6. Use established metadata standards, such as the VRA Core Categories or Categories for the Description of Works of Art.
  7. Understand that cataloging, classification, indexing, and display are different but related functions.
  8. Be consistent in establishing relationships between works and images, between a group or collection and works, among works, and among images.
  9. Be consistent regarding capitalization, punctuation, and syntax. Avoid abbreviations, but when necessary, use standard codes and lists for abbreviations (for example, the ISO abbreviations for countries).
  10. For English-language information systems and users, use English-language data values whenever possible.