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Metadata describes the content, character, provisos, and other characteristics of data. Metadata minimizes the work effort required for many tasks in companies and authorities and provides many automation possibilities. Learn more about the benefits of metadata.

PDF/A Metadata XMP, RDF & Dublin Core

What is Metadata?

“Data about Data”

Metadata is data about data. It describes the content, character, provisos, and other characteristics of data. The term ‘metadata’ was coined in the 1960s by Jack Myers.

Metadata is everywhere

Metadata helps us to understand the world around us. Without it, we are lost. Metadata also exists outside the computing world, on plans and maps, for example.

A simple example of map metadata.

Why Metadata?

There are many reasons for using metadata. Companies can benefit from using it when they set up and maintain their databases. If time is spent on the intelligent management of document data at the document creation stage, this initial extra effort is sure to pay off in the long term.

For example, the accounting center can access this metadata later on and the transmission of data may be easier. Search processes can also be significantly improved if uniform concepts are used.

Uses for Metadata

Metadata helps to provide an optimum overview of data and ideal data handling in many areas. This includes the following examples:


  • Title
  • Area Covered
  • Themes Responsible party
  • Providence – Where did it come from?


  • Distributor
  • Formats
  • Media
  • Online
  • Price

Entity and Attribute Information

  • Features
  • Attributes
  • Attribute Values

And many, many more…

Benefits for Internal Data

Metadata minimizes the work effort required for many tasks in companies and authorities. Employees can find the data records they require more quickly and do not have to look for additional information on certain data elsewhere. With regard to personnel fluctuations, metadata prevents the loss of information that might otherwise be mislaid. Metadata also provides many automation possibilities that could not be realized without it. Further time savings result from the fact that metadata avoids data record duplicates within an organization.

Benefits for External Data

Correct metadata simplifies the entry of transactions at the accounting office. Another plus point is that a greater number of people can utilize the data. This saves time because data record duplicates at different branches can be avoided.

Metadata in PDF

How is metadata organized in PDF? In Adobe Acrobat, you can view and change metadata in the ‘Document Properties’ dialog box.

Info Dictionary

The info dictionary has been a part of PDF since PDF version 1.0. This area belongs to the document itself and contains a collection of name/value pairs. Predefined pairs include Title, Author, Subject, Keywords, and others. You can also add your own values

Document Properties in Adobe Acrobat

PieceInfo Dictionary

The PieceInfo dictionary was introduced with PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4). This dictionary is either document- or page-related. The Application Private Data section is used by Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform)

XMP is a more recent development. It was introduced with PDF 1.4 (Acrobat 5). XMP is based on RDF (Resource Definition Framework). RDF is a W3C standard for XMP-based metadata (for more information, see www.w3.org/RDF). XMP can be linked with XObjects on document pages. XObjects are also known as images and repeating objects. In addition, XMP can be linked with fonts and ICC profiles.

Object Data (also called User Properties)

Object data was introduced with Acrobat 7 and is based on PDF 1.6. This area is connected with individual content elements. The name/value pairs can be realized using character strings, digits, or logical links.

Example of object data

Measurement Properties

Measurement properties have also been permitted since PDF 1.6. These properties are page-related and supply information on sizes and units of measure. This allows PDF units to be linked with units from the real world (for example, 1cm = 1km).

Measurement properties have been permitted since PDF 1.6

All about XMP

XMP Overview

XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) enables metadata to be integrated into all relevant Adobe applications (and in other places) using a uniform schema.


  • Easily add new metadata properties
  • Extend the CS application UI
  • Support from 30+ major asset management vendors


  • Data about…data
  • XML based on the W3C standard for encoding metadata (RDF)
    create”smart assets”by embedding XML metadata in binary files
  • File format neutral, e.g., JPEG, TIFF, EPS, PDF, Adobe native
  • Metadata schema neutral (customizable)


  • Across all CS products
  • Based on industry W3C standards
  • Freely available via open source ? partners
  • Intelligent / automation workflows; improved productivity

XMP Benefits

Business Technical
Promotes Intelligent Media Fosters re-use, re-purposing, re-expression across domains Promotes brand equity, intellectual capital & other intangible asset Self Describing Not limited to a specific schemaEvery file can have meta data
Open Platform Enables metadata capture, preservation & propagation,across devices, applications, file formats, institutions Accessible Based on industry standards (W3C)Openly available Extends metadata beyond the context of a database
Intelligent media based on XMP

Key Elements of XMP

Framework: XML structure for storing information
Data package: How and where to store and call up information
Specification: Description of the standard and its relationship to other standards
XMP toolkit (SDK): Available free of charge, open source
Modifiable fields: User interface for user interaction with metadata
Platform: Standardized access to metadata throughout Adobe CS

A Closer look at XMP

XMP is based on the W3C standard. The Adobe metadata framework constitutes the first ever wide-scale, comprehensive, and practical use of RDF (Resource Description Format). The Adobe XMP Platform has the following elements:

XMP framework: RDF framework or rendering metadata from multiple schemas
XMP schema: Schema for the description of properties, contained in namespaces
XMP data package technology: Method for embedding XML fragments in binary code
XMP SDK: Support for third-party solutions (interface and enhancements)

XMP Schemas

RDF specifies IDs in XML sequences, structured by source, property, and value (or alternatively subject, predicate, and object). RDF schemas define vocabulary. Adobe designed the standard XMP schemas. The XMP framework permits the integration of any schema that is structured in accordance with the specification. Area-specific schemas (such as IPTC and NewsML) can also be described in XMP data packages.

An example of a XMP Schema for Video.

XMP Basic Schema

Property Value Type Category Description
xmp:CreateDate Date Internal The date and time the resource was originally created.
xmp:CreatorTool AgentName Internal The name of the first known tool used to create the resource. If history is present in the metadata, this value should be equivalent to that of xmpMM:History’s softwareAgent property.
xmp:MetadataDate Date Internal The date and time that any metadata for this resource was last changed. It should be the same as or more recent than xmp:ModifyDate.
xmp:ModifyDate Date Internal The date and time the resource was last modified. NOTE:The value of this property is not necessarily the same as the file’s system modification date because it is set before the file is saved.

The XMP Basic schema provides properties that provide basic descriptive information

  • The schema namespace URI is http://wwwns.adobe.com/xmp/1.0/
  • The preferred schema namespace prefix is xmp.

Adobe PDF Schema

Property Value Type Category Description
pdf:Keywords Text External Keywords.
pdf:PDFVersion Text Internal The PDF file version (for example: 1.0, 1.3, and so on).
pdf:Producer AgentName Internal The name of the tool that created the PDF document.

The Adobe PDF schema provides a set of properties used with Adobe PDF documents.

The schema namespace URI is http://wwwns.adobe.com/pdf/1.3/
The preferred schema namespace prefix is pdf.

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative – dublincore.org/

The Dublin Core metadata element set (also known simply as Dublin Core) is a vocabulary with fifteen properties that describe the properties of the source. Dublin Core is part of a larger set that consists of metadata vocabulary and technical specifications, overseen by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI).

The complete set of vocabularies, DCMI Metadata Terms [DCMI TERMS], also contains a set of source categories (resource classes) – the DCMI Type Vocabulary [DCMI-TYPE].

The conditions in the DCMI vocabularies are intended to be used in conjunction with other, compatible vocabularies and in combination with application profiles, on the basis of the DCMI Abstract Model [DCAM].

The name “Dublin” is due to its origin at a 1995 invitational workshop in Dublin, Ohio. “Core” because its elements are broad and generic, usable for describing a wide range of resources.

Dublin Core (dc) Schema

Property Value Type Category Description
dc:contributor bag ProperName External Contributors to the resource (other than the authors).
dc:coverage Text External The extent or scope of the resource.
dc:creator seq ProperName External The authors of the resource (listed in order of precedence, if significant).
dc:date seq Date External Date(s) that something interesting happened to the resource.
dc:description Lang Alt External A textual description of the content of the resource. Multiple values may be present for different languages.
dc:format MIMEType Internal The file format used when saving the resource. Tools and applications should set this property to the save format of the data. It may include appropriate qualifiers.
dc:identifier Text External Unique identifier of the resource.
dc:language bag Locale Internal An unordered array specifying the languages used in the resource.
dc:publisher bag ProperName External Publishers.
dc:relation bag Text External Relationships to other documents.
dc:rights Lang Alt External Informal rights statement, selected by language.
dc:source Text External Unique identifier of the work from which this resource was derived.
dc:subject bag Text External An unordered array of descriptive phrases or keywords that specify the topic of the content of the resource.
dc:title Lang Alt External The title of the document, or the name given to the resource. Typically, it will be a name by which the resource is formally known.
dc:type bag open Choice External A document type; for example, novel, poem, or working.

DocInfo -> XMP Crosswalk

The table shows how entries and properties from the DocInfo and XMP areas relate to each other and can be translated.

Document information dictionary XMP
Entry PDF type Property XMP type
Title text string dc:title Lang Alt
Author text string dc:creator seq ProperName
Subject text string dc:description[”x- default”] bag Text
Keywords text string pdf:Keywords Text
Creator text string xmp:CreatorTool AgentName
Producer text string pdf:Producer AgentNam
CreationDate date xmp:CreateDate Date
ModDate date xmp:ModifyDate Date

Other Schemas supported in Adobe Creative Suite

  • Basic XMP *
  • Dublin Core *
  • Rights Management *
  • Media Management *
  • Adobe PDF *

* Supported by Acrobat & PDF

  • Photoshop (IPTC subset)
  • EXIF
  • Job Ticket Management
  • XMP Page Text
  • Camera Raw – metadata edits
  • Photoshop History
  • Audio & Video
  • Stock Photos

Custom Schemas

The schemas defined in this document are core schemas that are believed to be applicable to a wide variety of needs. If possible, it is always desirable to use properties from existing schemas. However, XMP was designed to be easily extensible by the addition of custom schemas. If your metadata needs are not already covered by the core schemas, you can define and use your own schemas.

If you are considering creating a new namespace, observe the following:

Avoid including properties that have the same semantics as properties in existing namespaces.

If your properties might be useful to others, try to collaborate in creating a common namespace, to avoid having a multitude of incompatible ones. To define a new schema, you should write a human-readable schema specification document. The specification document should be made available to any developers who need to write code that understands your metadata.

NOTE: Future versions of XMP might include support for machine-readable schema specifications, but such support will always be in addition to the requirement for human-readable schema specification documents.

How to get metadata into PDF?

There is a range of solutions that can be used to automatically or manually add metadata to PDF. This overview shows some of the possibilities:

Info Dictionary


  • Adobe Acrobat Standard/Professional
  • Other 3rd party PDF viewers


  • Acrobat SDK
  • Adobe PDFLibrary
  • hunderte weitere Programme
  • Libraries und Tools



  • Adobe Acrobat Standard/Professional
  • PDF Enhancer von Apago
  • PdfLicenseManager


  • Acrobat SDK
  • Adobe PDFLibrary
  • Adobe XMPToolkit
  • PDF Enhancer von Apago
  • iText

Related Resources

Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat SDK
Adobe PDFLibrary


XMP Website
XMP Toolkit 4.0 Labs


PDF Enhancer

Downloadable PDF

Tags: Dublin Core, Extensible Metadata Platform, PieceInfo Dictionary, RDF, metadata
Categories: PDF/A, XMP