On-Demand Content

On-demand online courses by the world's leading DAM experts

Controlled Vocabularies and Taxonomies

We all know the importance of metadata for DAM, and DAM managers are expected to understand the basics of designing and applying metadata. Essential for optimizing the efficacy of metadata are controlled vocabularies and taxonomies, the nuances of which are not so widely understood.

Controlled vocabularies are the values that populate many metadata properties. Determining which properties should have controlled rather than uncontrolled terms, and how term lists should be designed and controlled are important parts of metadata management. Controlled vocabularies provide metadata governance, but they do need to be governed.

Taxonomies determine how controlled vocabularies are structured in a hierarchy. Hierarchies may seem intuitive, but there are challenges in selecting the optimum choice. This course covers both the challenges and potential solutions. Standards and best practices do exist, but there is a difference between taxonomy creation guidelines and rules.

In this course, we provide guidance on when, why and how to design a taxonomy, its term relations, and its term labels. We also answer the question ‘Where does AI fit into what should be done?’

Sign up for this course and receive the following...

  • Four detailed sessions exploring when, why and how to design a taxonomy, its term relations, and its term labels
  • Sessions are available online in self paced modules
  • Teaching by Taxonomy expert Heather Hedden
  • Each session is 75 minutes including 15 minutes of Heather answering participants' questions on challenges they have faced


Fees for the 4 part course in US Dollars: $299. Click here to register

Fees for the 4 part course in Pound Sterling: £235 +VAT. Click here to register

About the course

This is a beginner/intermediate course for DAM managers who are familiar with taxonomies and controlled vocabularies, as users, but have little experience in designing and creating them. Less time will be spent discussing taxonomy benefits and uses, and more time will be spent on how to create a good taxonomy.

While it is possible to contract a freelance taxonomist to build or revise your taxonomy, the taxonomy still needs to be managed, updated, and expanded over time. In-house taxonomy expertise is essential. A set of controlled vocabularies and taxonomies can also be considered one of an organization’s “assets”. It demands on-going attention, along with the digital assets that are tagged with the controlled vocabulary terms, the governance policies, the guidelines for management, the software system to manage it (definitely not spreadsheets), and periodic quality checks and audits.

DAM managers are expected to manage all aspects of the digital assets under their charge, including their tagging and the terms available for tagging. This course will help them to develop appropriate custom controlled vocabularies and taxonomies and feel confident about their quality.


Session 1: Introduction to Metadata and Controlled Vocabularies and their Use
Session 2: Planning and Development of Controlled Vocabularies 
Session 3: Creating Taxonomy Terms and Relationships
Session 4: Taxonomy Design and Implementation

You can view the full series summary here