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Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters


June 21st, 2007 by tamuwebmaster

Metadata is data about data. In terms of your Web pages it is additional descriptive information about the page that lives in the source code, but not visually displayed on the screen. Typically, this includes keywords, description, author, date of update and other pertinent information. For Texas A&M Web sites and pages, some metatags are required and some are recommended.

What am I required to have on my web page?

Your code needs to include three sections of metadata to meet certain requirements. To include metadata, use the <meta> tag within the <head> section of your document.

The first requirement is to make sure the end user’s browser knows what to display and how to properly display it. Most of the time, the line of code that is needed is similar to this: (Note that the examples in this page conform to HTML 4.01. To be correct XHTML a closing slash would be required on each tag.)

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

Second, your web page needs to meet basic accessibility requirements and best practices for coding, so you want to make sure that it provides the basics regarding the title of the page, the author, what keywords would best represent the page and a short description. For example:

<meta name="title" content="University Freshman Convocation">
<meta name="author" content="TAMU Webmasters Office">
<meta name="keywords" content="tamu, university, freshman, convocation, academics, reception, recognition">
<meta name="description" content="Freshman Convocation welcomes the Class of 2011 to the university community of learners with pageantry, symbolism, tradition and encouragement">

Third, as part of the Texas Records and Information Locator (TRAIL) project and university accessibility policies, there is also a set of elements that follow the Dublin Core (DC) standards for describing Web pages and documents. As a fictitious example:

<meta name="DC.Title" content="University Snorkeling Center">
<meta name="DC.Author" content="University Snorkeling Center">
<meta name="DC.Subject.Keyword" content="aggie, snorkel, swim, scuba, aquatic sports">
<meta name="DC.Description" content="The University Snorkeling Center is available to o all university students, factulty and staff. Our mission is to educate the campus community in this exciting underwater activity.">
<meta name="DC.Subject" content="Education">

<meta name="DC.Type" content="text/html/images">
<meta name="DC.Language" content="english">
<meta name="DC.Date" content="2007-05-22">
<meta name="DC.Coverage" content="Texas">

University “Key Public Points of Entry” index pages should have all of the above listed “DC.” tags. However, for standard content pages or other entry points, only the “DC.Title”, “DC.Author”, “DC.Subject.Keyword”, and “DC.Description” tags are necessary.

NOTE: It is important to be consistent with your metadata, so make sure that metatags of similar type (e.g. “title” and “DC.Title”, “author” and “DC.Author”, etc.) are the same. This is especially true when it comes to the “title” metadata, which should be the same as what’s in the <title> tag of your page code.

Resources for creating effective metatags

To make the most of your metadata (while satisfying the necessary requirements) consider taking a look at these resources:

Thursday, June 21st, 2007 Metadata, Style Guide
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1 Comment to Metadata

  1. TRAIL has moved the subject guide index. It is now located here:

  2. Matthew Crawley on March 12th, 2009

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