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Guidelines: Minimal Descriptive Embedded Metadata in Digital Still Images
Recommended by Still Image Working Group

Embedded metadata can travel with a digital object during its life cycle and often exists in synergy with metadata in an organization's databases or other information technology systems. Embedded metadata enables people in and outside an organization to work more efficiently, provides valuable data to the systems that preserve digital content, and can assist in disaster recovery. In addition to these guidelines for minimal descriptive metadata in still image files, FADGI offers embedding guidelines for the TIFF header in still images and for Broadcast WAVE files in audio-visual materials.

Document Background

Created by EMDaWG (Embedded Metadata Working Group) of the Smithsonian Institution in April 2010, this document defines the minimum proposed descriptive embedded metadata for digital images at the Smithsonian Institution. This document identifies the following:

  • Recommends a minimal core set of embedded metadata
    • Both IPTC Information Interchange Model and Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) are discussed for embedded metadata, no preference is expressed
  • Required core set of embedded metadata
  • Suggested extended set of embedded metadata
  • Recommendations of data value types not to embed in digital images
  • Controlled vocabularies
  • Recommendations when working with vendors who will be embedding metadata
  • Appendices for IPTC Element Narratives and Examples of IPTC fields mapped to various imaging programs
The Still Image Working Group has reviewed this document and accepted it for recommendation.

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Current Document

Approved for Recommendation by Working Group – March 23, 2012

Working Groups

Still Image Working Group
This group is involved in a cooperative effort to develop common digitization guidelines for still image materials.

Audio-Visual Working Group
The goal for this working group is to identify, establish, and disseminate information about standards and practices for the digital reformatting of audio-visual materials by federal agencies.

Last Updated: 09/24/2015