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SharePoint Blog

May 18
Metadata Explained

The term Metadata can be quite scary when it comes to SharePoint.  How might we set it up and how do we use it for value add in our organization?  The truth is, we come into contact with Metadata everyday but don’t necessarily recognize it as such.

liz1.PNGMost people have purchased a can of soup.  Imagine for a moment, that the can of soup has no label on it.  Now what?    Do you open all the cans in the grocery store to find out what is inside?  Do you pick up a can hoping it will be tomato only to find out its bean with bacon instead?  These are unlikely, so that’s why we have labels.  The labels contain the metadata or “those properties that describe the contents in an easily recognizable way”.

In fact, a soup can’s label is loaded with metadata that one could easily liz2.PNG
categorize in different ways.  There’s the name brand that is typically grouped together along with the type of soup.  These could be two pieces of easily identifiable metadata one could use:  “Name Brand” and “Type of Soup”.  One could also group by “most popular” or “used in cooking” or not, but these aren’t as easily discoverable just from the label.  

When looking at the back of the label, one may see weights, ingredients, nutrition value, cooking information or even recipes.   While one may or may not group these items together in the grocery store, it may benefit some if they wanted to know all the soups that were “90 calories or less” within a list.  While that information may be presented to one person, another person may want to know which soup has the least amount of sodium to meet their diet needs.​


This is where metadata can be of huge value.  If you set up a SharePoint list with all of these elements, you can quickly and easily sort and filter out the information that is already there to find an answer to your question.​

From this small list, one can easily ask questions and get answers pretty quickly.  However, think about this list being representative of all the items in the soup isle of the grocery store.  The list would be too hard to look at all at once and get answers to questions.  However, with a few little sorts and filters, anyone could get information for their questions. 

What is the lowest calorie soup?  Simply filter the results to show smallest first and your answer is “Hearty Vegetable”


Now if only one could find a SharePoint list in the grocery store to help in selecting items that quick!

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