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Digitisation Projects: Organising Information

This guide outlines the various options available to those undertaking digitisation projects, considering the entire workflow from planning, hosting, copyright, digital imaging, metadata, software, web publishing tools etc.

Use a Spreadsheet or Database

Use a spreadsheet or a database to input information/data about your project. These will let you:

  • Organise your data so that you can find it
  • Sort your data
  • Prepare your data for analysis

Field Repetition

Fields may need to be repeated to reflect:

Multiple roles e.g.

  • Name 1
  • Role 1
  • Name 2
  • Role 2

Multiple events e.g. for a map collection:

  • Date Surveyed
  • Date Revised or Corrected
  • Publication or Printed Date

Non-standardised and standardised form e.g.

  • Place of Publication (as appears on item)
  • Place of Publication (as appears in an authority listing)


Each element of information or data is called a “field”. E.g. data about a book will comprise a "record" and will include the following fields:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Date

Decide on what fields you want to include per record, thinking about possible future analysis. E.g. if you have place/location information you will need to decide how you may want to sort and analyse this information e.g. by:

  • Country
  • County
  • Town
  • Townland

Depending on your requirement each of these elements will need its own field.

Organising your information / data at the most granular level will facilitate future analysis. 

So, for example, including separate fields for town and country ; or separate fields for birth and death dates (or start date, end date) will mean that each of those fields can be sorted / queried separately.


Please refer to UCD Library's Generic Template and Notes for more information:

UCD Library has a number of other guidelines that may be supplied on request:

  • Name Construction Guidelines
  • Date Guidelines
  • Format Guidelines for Photographic Resources

Ensuring Consistency

Consistency is important in describing elements. So, for example, avoid the use of multiple versions of the same geographical name e.g. Rome, Roma; or date e.g. 1st March 1900, March 1st 1900, 01/03/1900, etc.

Consistency will help to ensure that your data can be sorted, analysed, transformed into other formats, etc.

To assist with this use an national / international authority controlled list of terms or standard ; for example:

Field Standard / List
Personal name (e.g. author)

Virtual International Authority File - VIAF:
VIAF combines multiple name authority files (e.g. from various National Libraries) into a single name authority service.

Irish names: -
Dictionary of Irish Biography - (access via UCD Library's subscription)

Role (e.g. author role) Library of Congress MARC list of roles: 
Dates  ISO 8601 Date and Time Formats: 
Geographical Location (e.g. City / Town)

International authority listing of place-names

Irish authority listing of place-names

Subject / Keywords

Use a general controlled vocabulary listing such as the UNESCO thesaurus:

Or use a discipline-specific listing; see some examples: