Using Dublin Core


Using Dublin Core

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Status of Document:
This is a DCMI Working Draft.
Description of Document: This document is intended as an entry point for users of Dublin Core™. For non-specialists, it will assist them in creating simple descriptive records for information resources (for example, electronic documents). Specialists may find the document a useful point of reference to the documentation of Dublin Core, as it changes and grows.


1. Introduction

2. Which Syntax?

3. Basic Principles of Descriptive Elements

4. The Core Elements

5. Qualifiers

6. Examples

8. Glossary

9. Background Reading and References

4. The Core Elements: Instantiation


In the element descriptions below, a formal single-word label is specified to make the syntactic specification of elements simpler for encoding schemes. Although some environments, such as HTML, are not case-sensitive, it is recommended best practice always to adhere to the case conventions in the element names given below to avoid conflicts in the event that the metadata is subsequently converted to a case-sensitive environment, such as XML/RDF.

Some information may appear to belong in more than one metadata element. While there will normally be a clear preferred choice, there is potential semantic overlap between some elements. Consequently, there will occasionally be some judgment required from the person assigning the metadata.

4.12. Date

Label: Date

Element Description: A date associated with an event in the life cycle of the resource. Typically, Date will be associated with the creation or availability of the resource. Recommended best practice for encoding the date value is defined in a profile of ISO 8601 [Date and Time Formats, W3C Note,] and follows the YYYY-MM-DD format.

Guidelines for content creation:

If the full date is unknown, month and year (YYYY-MM) or just year (YYYY) may be used. Many other schema are possible, but if used, they may not be easily interpreted by users or software.


Examples: [generic] [simple HTML] [qualified HTML] [simple RDF] [qualified RDF]

4.13. Format

Label: Format

Element Description: The physical or digital manifestation of the resource. Typically, Format may include the media-type or dimensions of the resource. Format may be used to determine the software, hardware or other equipment needed to display or operate the resource. Examples of dimensions include size and duration.

Recommended best practice is to select a value from a controlled vocabulary (for example, the list of Internet Media Types [] defining computer media formats).

Guidelines for content creation:

In principle, formats can include physical media such as books, serials, or other non-electronic media.

Information concerning the size of a resource may be included in the content of the Format element if available. In resource discovery this might be used as a criterion to select resources of interest, since a user may need to evaluate whether they can make use of the resource within the infrastructure available to them.


Examples: [generic] [simple HTML] [qualified HTML] [simple RDF] [qualified RDF] [From other implementations]

4.14. Resource Identifier

Label: Identifier

Element Description: An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context. Recommended best practice is to identify the resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system. Example of formal identification systems include the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) (including the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and the International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

Guidelines for content creation:

This element can also be used for local identifiers (e.g. ID numbers or call numbers) assigned by the Creator of the resource to apply to a particular item.


Examples: [generic] [simple HTML] [qualified HTML] [simple RDF] [qualified RDF] [From other implementations]

4.15. Language

Label: Language

Element Description: A language of the intellectual content of the resource. Recommended best practice for the values of the Languge element is defined by RFC 1766 [Tags for the Identification of Languages, Internet RFC 1766] which includes a two letter Language Code (taken from the ISO 639 standard [Codes for the representation of names of languages, ISO 639,]), followed optionally, by a two letter Country Code (taken from the ISO 3166 standard [Codes for the representation of names of countries, ISO 3166,]). For example, "en" for English, "fr" French or "en-uk" for English used in the United Kingdom.

Guidelines for content creation:

Coded or textual information can be represented here. If the content is in more than one language, the element may be repeated.


Examples: [generic] [simple HTML] [qualified HTML] [simple RDF] [qualified RDF] [From other implementations]