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Metadata Indexing [Quick Guide]

Indexing is an essential component of any document scanning project. It will allow you to search through all of your digitized files to quickly locate data such as names, invoices, or any number of criteria.

Without it, you’re stuck manually combing through hundreds of thousands or even millions of digitized documents when you want to find specific information. It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack within a haystack.

Efficiently finding that data is made possible through the usage of metadata that’s attached to every scanned document. This guide will help you better understand metadata and why it’s such an integral aspect of any indexing project.

What is Metadata?

Metadata is often described as “data that describes other data.” It’s descriptive information or words that help categorize each document. When someone performs a search, the software program they use will look for and retrieve relevant documents.

When setting up an indexing project, it’s important to consider the metadata you plan to use carefully. It will enable you or your users to find information from within your scanned documents much easier. Keep in mind that people can search for data in many different ways, so try to be as inclusive as possible.

Examples of Metadata

There are different examples of metadata that you can include, such as:

  • College Admissions — Student name, birth date, student ID, or social security number
  • Medical — Patient name, insurance number, doctor name, patient address
  • H.R. — Employee ID, name, social security number, branch office
  • AP/AR — Vendor ID, purchase order number, vendor name, materials

When selecting the appropriate metadata to use for your indexing project, it’s advantageous to add as many types of categories as possible. This will allow someone who is searching for information the best chances of locating the right data. Ultimately, the best ones are those that you or your staff will find it easiest to search.

Where Else is Metadata Used?

In addition to document scanning and indexing, many other fields use metadata indexing to help organize and retrieve information quicker.


Modern smartphones and most digital SLR cameras append metadata to each photograph taken. This information can include shutter speed, f-stop, and GPS coordinates, to name just a few.

Some phones and cameras will even allow you to add keywords to photos. This is very helpful when you have thousands of pictures, and you’re looking for ones you took on your last vacation.

Web Pages

Websites often contain metadata informing the reader what the page is about, the software they’re using, and relevant keywords. Search engines, such as Bing! and Google, use the metadata contained on a web page to determine how they should categorize and rank them in the search results.

CD’s, DVD’s, and Multimedia

The entertainment industry uses metadata to provide consumers with additional information about the artist and the song. The next time you listen to a song on your iPod or another favorite music device, check to see if it displays a picture of the album cover. If so, it means that it came directly from the metadata.

Document Scanning & Metadata Indexing

Metadata is an essential tool that helps categorize data, files, and other electronic media. This allows for quick information retrieval when someone needs to find a specific document or file.

At ILM, we help our clients index and add relevant metadata to their files. Contact us to learn how we can create a custom metadata indexing solution for your business or organization.

Learn More About Document Indexing Services

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