Metadata, What is it?

Metadata quite simply is “data about data”, and electronically created documents almost certainly contain quite a lot of it (possibly without you realising it), and is used to describe a documents attributes for example the document title, the author, its content, where it’s located, and the date of its creation.

Having an understanding of this information can be helpful especially in documents and records management environments especially when cataloguing your organisations electronic information.

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How Can I View Document Metadata?

Probably the quickest and easiest way to view an open documents metadata is usually from the File menu, choose the Properties option (usually at the bottom of the menu. For Word 2007 see below).

A dialog box will appear that displays general information about that document e.g. creation date, size, etc. A Summary tab displaying additional fields which may include: Author, Title, Subject, Keywords, Category, Status, and Comments.

What’s not so easy to see is all the other document relevant metadata. To view this additional data you will need a third party software application which will scan and identify all the metadata related to your document.

Be aware that this may also share potentially confidential and embarrassing information to an unintended audience.

Word 2007

Use the Document Information Panel to view or change the document properties.

1. Click the Microsoft Office Button (top left corner), point to Prepare, and then click Properties.

2. In the Document Information Panel, click the arrow next to Document Properties to select the set of properties that you want to view (for example, Advanced Properties).


  • You can view custom properties by clicking Advanced Properties.
  • If your organization customized the Document Information Panel, or if the document for which you want to view properties is saved to a document library or a document management server, additional document property views may be available.

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