Monday, February 15, 2010

Data about data

My current organization blitz has now carried me to the point where I am ready to organize my data about my data. That is to say, the metadata. I just ran a properties report and my new, "clean" Genealogy folder has 2,621 files, 208 folders, consisting of 7.85 gig. And that's just what I got done this weekend. I've still got a long row to hoe.

Now it's time to add labels to all of these documents so that I can run a search for keywords and find them. Including keywords in the file name is one strategy, but it's very limiting. Now I'm going in and adding metadata to the document properties which will then embed itself in such a way that my computer knows how to find it without bogging my brain down with the visual overload of crowded titles.

How, you ask? Well, I use Photoshop for image files, and the Document Properties feature of Word and Excel. I give the document the same title it carries in my database source list, (I'm using RM4 these days, but Legacy will do the same) then I paste in the bibliography version of the source citation in the comments field, so that matches the source list, and then I just add keywords to my heart's content.

In Photoshop:
I use CS4, but it's the same process in all versions, I think. Click "File" and scroll down to File Info. The keyboard shortcut is Alt+Shift+Ctrl+I. One fun thing I can do in Photoshop is add a document rating. I can give something up to five stars. Also of note is the fact that I have a tab called "History" which doesn't have to be used for the document history. It can be used to embed a transcription. (

In Word:
I use Word 2010, but the basic concept is the same for other versions. Click "File." The default view is Info, which shows your document properties on the far right under the document thumbnail.

From there, click "Properties," which will drop down a menu with three options: show document panel, advanced properties, and show all properties. Click "Show Document Panel." In Word 2007 I believe this option was under "Prepare for print" or something. I can't remember, but the bottom line is that you want the document properties panel, as shown below. That is where you will be able to add keywords, etc. I paste in the bibliography version of the source citation, but you can paste in the full or short footnote version just as easily.

A word about PDF files: most people do not have the full version of Adobe Acrobat; they only have the free Adobe Reader, which will not modify metadata. If you want to modify PDF metadata I found a free program that looks like it might do the job, but I haven't tried it yet, since I can modify my files with CS4. It's called BeCyPDFMetaEdit. If you try it, please comment about how it worked (or didn't work) for you.

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