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Encoding Schemes

Page history last edited by Debbie Cardinal 12 years, 9 months ago


An encoding scheme is a standardized format for describing an aspect of a digital resource. Wisconsin Heritage Online recommends the use of particular encoding schemes for specific metadata elements (for more information, see the WHO Metadata Worksheet). These recommendations depend on the type of resource you are digitizing. Many of the most widely-used schemes are available in full online. The full Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials is also provided with the CONTENTdm Project Client. Follow the links in the table to access these resources.


Metadata Field

Type of



encoding scheme

SUBJECT Terms describing the content of an image or text Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (LCTGM)
SUBJECT Terms describing a physical object Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) OR Nomenclature 3.0 for Museum Cataloging (aka Chenhall's-not available online)
SUBJECT Terms describing the content of a book or other published text  Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) 
CREATOR or CONTRIBUTOR Personal or corporate name  Getty's Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) OR Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF)
FORMAT.MEDIUM Terms describing the physical characteristics of the resource Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (LCTGM) OR Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)
COVERAGE.SPATIAL Location(s) covered by the content of the resource Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)



Controlled Vocabulary Text Files

In addition to improving organization and findability, these standardized lists serve as a form of quality control. The staff or volunteers conducting data entry can choose terms from a pre-approved list rather than repeatedly type in terms by hand. You can download these text files and import them into CONTENTdm to use during the data entry process. These are NOT definitive lists of terms--you can add or modify them based on the needs of your project. Download the text files individually below or click here for all the lists.

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