Metadata tips

Metadata tips

Please use this document as a guideline to ensure you input quality metadata that will maximize your investment in eCommons. The guidelines below outline each metadata element and how to input the best metadata.


The person(s), organization(s) or service(s) responsible for creating or contributing to the content of the item.


image of author text box in eCommons.

  • Use: Recommended.
  • Personal names should be entered inverted: surname (s), first name (s), suffix, prefix.
  • Enter author names in the order in which they should be displayed.
  • Use the term, “Unknown,” when there is no clear creator, either personal or corporate.
  • If an organization created the work, use the last name input box for the organization name. Please enter organization names in full, including such specifics as “Inc.”, “LLP” etc.
  • If there is doubt as to how to enter a name, personal or corporate, enter as it appears and do not invert.
  • Do not include professional/academic titles, or similar titles such as Dr., Professor, Dean, Sir, etc.
  • Add one author per line, using the “Add” button for additional entries.
  • Authors may be removed using the checkboxes and the “Remove” button.


The full and proper name by which this item should be known.


  • Use: Required.
  • Capitalize the first word and proper nouns. It is not preferable to capitalize all letters of the title.
  • If there is no known title, create a title that is descriptive and concise.
  • Avoid using file names (“123_Test_Smith.pdf”) or general content descriptions (“Master's Thesis”).
  • For specific types of documents, use the following guidelines:
  • Letters – Letters, memos and other forms of correspondence should be named in the following format: “Letter, A. D. White to Ezra Cornell; 05-05-1866.” If there is no recipient or no author listed on the document, the title should read: “Letter from A.D. White; 05-05-1896” OR “Letter to…”.
  • Brochures, Flyers, etc. Brochures and flyers that are untitled should be named according to the publishing organization or the subject of the work (e.g., SLOAN Program: 2007 Brochure”).
  • Photograph – Photographs that do not have a name written on them should be named according to the image (e.g., “Photograph of George Adams”).
  • Newspapers or items in a series – Insert the series title, followed by the volume and issue numbers (e.g., “Cornell Magazine, Vol. 100, No. 1 - No. 6, 1997 – 1998”).
  • Oral histories – Recordings or interviews with a known person should follow this example: “An Interview with Gould P. Colman”.

Other title(s)

A valid alternative name by which this item could be known.


Title in another language:

image of other title text box in eCommons showing other language


Acronym title:

image of other text box in eCommons showing acronym

  • Use: Optional.
  • Avoid duplicating portions of the main titles in the “Other Titles” box.
  • Consider whether the title is known in another language, by an acronym or with the inclusion of symbols or numbers.
  • Enter only one “Other Title” per line, using the “Add” button for additional entries.

Date of Issue

The date of the item’s original publication, if previously published.


image of date of issue text box in eCommons.

image of date of issue text box populated in eCommons.

  • Use: Required. “Year” must be filled in.
  • If eCommons is the first means of distribution of this item, enter the date of submission.
  • If the item has been previously published, enter the date of publication.
  • If you don't know the month, leave it blank; otherwise select month from drop-down box.
  • If you don't know the exact day, leave that box empty.
  • If you have a date range (e.g. 2004-2005) or unusual date, input this information in the “Description” field.


If previously published, the responsible party for making the resource available.


  • Use: Optional. Use only if the item being uploaded to eCommons has been previously published. 
  • If there is doubt as to which party had which role in creation, enter corporate entity or organization as “Publisher” and personal name(s) as “Author(s)”.
  • Invert personal names (e.g. Ezra Cornell ➜ Cornell, Ezra).
  • Ignore initial articles such as “a” and “the”.
  • Enter corporate/organization names in full.
  • If the publisher and the creator are the same, enter the information in both fields.
  • Add multiple publishers separately in the “Description” field.

Previously published as

If item was previously published, a reference to a book, article, web page or other published item with sufficient detail to identify the item uniquely.


  • Use: Optional. Use only if the item being uploaded to eCommons has been previously published.
  • Enter citation information in any citation form.
  • For web pages, please include the URL, web page title and date.
  • For journal articles, please include the journal title, volume number, date and pages.
  • For book chapters, please include the book title, place of publication, publisher name, date and pages.

Related DOI

If this item has a DOI associated with it that was assigned by another entity, enter the full URL (include http://)


Related DOI:

  • Use: Optional. Use only if the item being uploaded to eCommons has an existing DOI from another entity.
  • If you'd like to request a DOI for this item, please contact us at

Other Identifiers

A unique identification string or number assigned to the item.

Examples:image of other identifier text box in eCommons.
  • Use: Optional. Use only if the item being uploaded to eCommons has been assigned a unique number by another entity.
  • Select from “ISSN”, “Other”, “ISMN”, “Gov’t Doc #”, “URI” or “ISBN”.
  • For numbers imported from other institutions or those which are unique within an institution (e.g., accession numbers, unique collection numbers), include the name of the institution along with the number.
  • If more than one identifier is available, use the “Add” button for multiple entries.

Related version

Description of other available versions of the work.


ecommons related version field

  • Use: Optional. Use only if an alternative version of the item exists.
  • Describe how the version varies from the item uploaded in eCommons.
  • Indicate how users can access the related version.
  • Do include information about a publisher's version if the item to submitted to eCommons is an earlier draft, such as a preprint or postprint.
  • Do not include information for instances in which this item was also published unaltered in a journal, book, other larger work or web site; in those instances, use the “Previously Published As” field.


The type of work (or genre) that best fits the uploaded item. See Definitions of eCommons types for more information.


image of type text box in eCommons.

  • Use: Required.
  • Select from the variable list: article, biography, book, book chapter, cartographic material, case study, correspondence, dataset, dissertation or thesis, fact sheet, image, interview, learning object, musical score, newsletter, pamphlet, periodical, preprint, presentation, report, software, sound, syllabus, technical report, video/moving image, other. See Definitions of eCommons types for more information.
  • To select more than one value in the list, click "add more".

Accessibility Feature

Content features of the resource, such as accessible media, alternatives and supported enhancements for accessibility.


image of accessibility feature text box in eCommons.


  • Use: Recommended
  • Select from the variable list: alternativeText, bookmarks, captions, ChemML, describedMath, displayTransformability, highContrastAudio, highContrastDisplay, largePrint, longDescription, MathML, readingOrder, structuralNavigation, taggedPDF, transcript, unlocked, none. See the W3C WebSchemas/Accessibility Wiki for more information.
  • To select more than one value in the list, click the "add more" link below the box. 
  • If none of the accessibility features are included in the content, leave blank. 

Accessibility Hazard

Content elements in the resource (usually an AV resource) which may induce seizures in some viewers.

image of accessibility hazard text box in eCommons.
  • Use: Highly Recommended for AV content
  • Select from the variable list: none, flashing, noFlashingHazard, motionSimulation, noMotionSimulationHazard, sound, noSoundHazard, unknown. See the W3C WebSchemas/Accessibility Wiki for more information.
  • To select more than one value in the list, select "add more" after the box. 
  • If none of the hazards are known to exist instead of calling out each nonHazard it is recommended to use "none".
  • If the content has hazard(s), include positive assertions for the hazards it has and negative assertions for the others.

Accessibility Summary

Brief summary of any/all accessibility features or deficiencies in the item.

eCommons Accessibility Summary submission
  • Use: Highly Recommended
  • If an alternative, accessible copy is provided (ie: a plain text version of a pdf), this is an appropriate place to note it.
  • Consider language accommodations (ie: original language material is French, but captions are provided in English)
  • Do not include html tags (e.g. <a href="http://www...">).


The primary language of the intellectual content of the item.


image of language text box in eCommons.

  • Use: Optional.
  • If the language does not appear in the list, please select 'other'. We encourage you to contact us if you'd like to suggest we add a language to the list.
  • If the content does not have a language (e.g., an image) please select “N/A”.

Subject keywords

Concepts or ideas that detail the item’s intellectual content.


image of keyword text box in eCommons.

          image of keyword text box in eCommons populated.
  • Use: Highly recommended. The subject keywords aid end-users and enhance search-and-retrieval; we urge you to use subject keywords.
  • Enter the subject keyword(s) into the box and tap return/enter OR comma key to add the keyword(s). 
  • Click the x in the keyword box if you would like to remove that keyword(s)
  • We recommend entering 3-5 keywords. Use words that are likely to be entered by a user in a search engine (e.g. Google's search box).
  • Do not include words already in the title or abstract as they're already fully indexed.
  • Do not use phrases, such as “last meeting of a Cornell University course by Professor Marcham”; similarly, do not include the words "and" or "or".
  • Do include information such as geographic region, experimental materials, instruments or techniques, applications of the work, and related issues; provide terms in the singular, not plural.
  • Be careful not to make keywords too broad (e.g. cells, psychology) or use abbreviations that are not well established or might have more than one meaning.
  • If the subject is a person or organization, enter in “Subject Keywords” field in the same manner as described in “Author(s)” field.
  • Keywords in eCommons do not have to be from a specific vocabulary; however, examples of useful taxonomies, thesauri and controlled vocabularies are available at the Cornell Data Services website.
  • For photographs: if the image includes a large group of people, do not list all the people as subjects; list them in the “Description” field. Concentrate subject headings on what is the purpose of the scene of the photograph.


A statement summarizing the important points of the item.


ecommons abstract field

  • Use: Highly recommended. We urge you to include an abstract for the convenience of end-users and to enhance search and retrieval.
  • Summarize the resource in one or two sentences.
  • Consider the “who, what, where & when” during composition of the abstract.
  • Do not include html tags (e.g. <a href="http://www...">).
  • Do not format or add whitespace to your abstract; the software on which eCommons runs does not support formatted text in the abstract.


Information about any sponsoring agencies or departments.


ecommons sponsor field

  • Use: Optional. Use only if the resource being uploaded to eCommons is the product of sponsored research.
  • Consider both internal Cornell University entities and external agencies.
  • Attribute the support of lecture series or projects when uploading a speaker’s presentation.
  • Include any available specifics of the sponsored research (e.g., agency / grant contract numbers, etc.).


Descriptive text, remarks, and comments about the item.


ecommons description field

ecommons description field

  • Use: Optional.
  • Description includes information not covered by other fields (e.g. provenance, condition, additional languages).
  • Consider details of the digital resource (e.g., file format).
  • Consider the physical descriptions of the original resource (e.g., dimensions).
  • Use correct grammar with regard to punctuation and complete sentences, when possible.
  • Mention important people whose names may appear in a document, but are not the subject of the document; however, do not include a long list of names.
  • Do not include html tags (e.g. <p>, </p>, <a href="https://...">).