Do you deal with a lot of data? Are you always looking for specific documents? Do you wish there was a better way of storing your paperwork? There is.

In this article, we’re going to talk about metadata. We’ll explain what it is, what it does, and why it’s the solution to your problems.

What is Metadata?

Metadata is descriptive data that’s used to organize and retrieve documents, data, and other resources when you need them.

Think of metadata as data about data.

Metadata summarizes the information your other data contains. It can be created manually or the metadata creation process can be automated. Either way, metadata is what allows for easy data storage and retrieval.

The three most popular methods to store metadata are:

Machine-readable cataloging

Machine-readable cataloging (MARC) is a low-tech, yet complex method of creating metadata. This system uses 3-digit codes for every kind of classification found within the system. This was the first metadata system used by the Library of Congress.

Metadata object description schema

Metadata object description schema (MODS) is less complex than MARC, but it also requires more computing power. MODS creates metadata according to what types of information your data contains. It’s also one of the more common forms of data storage in use now.

Dublin core

Dublin core is the most simplistic form of metadata storage. Dublin Core allows for a lot of customization and personal implementations.

Which method you use depends on what you and your company’s needs are.



A Brief History Of Metadata

The origins of metadata began with libraries. Libraries had to develop systems in which they could store vast amounts of books. They would classify their books by genre, subject, and author.

This organization system would eventually inspire the document management system (DMS.) Most DMS systems look very similar to the library’s proto-metadata storage methods. These early DMSs would give way to the MARC system by the 1960s as well as the other methods we’ve mentioned already.

The ways we store and retrieve metadata are constantly improving and evolving. To keep your data readily accessible, you need to understand metadata best practices. You also need to know the most common elements used in metadata storage.

Common Metadata Elements

The most common elements of metadata will change depending on what method you’re using. For example, if you’re using the MODS method of classifying metadata, you’ll likely use 10 elements.


The 10 elements of MODS metadata are:

  • Title
  • Name
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Physical description
  • Origin
  • Classification
  • Target audience
  • Language
  • Access condition


MODS is also based off of the web development XML schema, so it can also include elements such as image tags, canonical tags, and structured data.


Why Is Metadata So Important

Why is metadata is so important? It’s important because proper metadata storage can make or break your business. This is especially true in industries that deal with large amounts of documents or data on a daily basis.

If you run a manufacturing company, you have to keep track of pick sheets, BOLs, and invoices. If you’re in the healthcare business, you have to handle, store and protect a massive amount of HIPAA compliant documents. If you’re in the human resources industry, not only do you have large amounts of paperwork on file, but you have to differentiate between what you need and what you need to get rid of.

The amount of data one business has to maintain, store, protect, and retrieve at a moment’s notice can be overwhelming.

The way you classify these documents can make or break your business’ ability to function.

With the proper metadata method, you can extend the longevity of your data, reuse it, share it, and maintain those important records you need to be compliant. The way you use your metadata can have such a cascading effect on your company’s processes.

If there is something wrong with the way your data is stored, it needs to be fixed now.

If there is a way to optimize your metadata storage, make those changes a priority.

Metadata is the special tool that makes a data-intensive company function. It’s the company’s lifeblood.

eFileCabinet Can Help You With Your Metadata Management

eFileCabinet can help you store your data using some of the most effective methods on the market.

We can offer you workflow automation. Advanced search, integration, security, and data compliance.

We know that our document management software will make it so easy for you to store and find your data. You may work in one of many data-driven fields. It doesn’t matter. We can help you organize your data. We can also digitize your physical data and help you get out of paper purgatory.

With eFileCabinet, you’ll never lose your data again.

We know we can make your data storage and metadata issues a thing of the past.

Come and watch a video to get a better idea of how eFileCabinet can help you deal with your data. After the video, you can request a free demo.