A key aspect in working with ArcGIS is to document the content you create and use—your map, globe and scene documents, layers, geoprocessing models, geodatabase datasets, and so on.
Information that describes items in ArcGIS is called metadata. When care is taken to provide good descriptions, you can find appropriate items with a search and evaluate which of the items in your search results is the correct one to use.
In an item's metadata you can record whatever information is important for your organization to know about that item. This might include information about how accurate and recent the item is, restrictions associated with using and sharing the item, important processes in its life cycle such as generalizing features, and so on.
The default Item Description metadata style lets you see and edit a simple set of metadata properties for an item. Only one page of information is available when editing metadata with this style. This style is designed to facilitate providing information that is used by ArcGIS; it is indexed and available for searching and can be published with the item to ArcGIS Online. The Item Description metadata style is straightforward and effective, suitable for anyone who doesn't need to adhere to specific metadata standards.
You can provide more information about an item using the other metadata styles that are provided with ArcGIS Desktop. These styles support capturing metadata content that corresponds to different community-adopted standards. When you create metadata in this manner you can share information about your resources with others in your community outside of ArcGIS. For example, you might publish it to a community metadata catalog that is based on the Esri Geoportal Server.
Learn more about metadata styles and standards
The ArcGIS item description can be exported to various standard XML metadata formats using metadata conversion tools.
Learn more about exporting metadata from the Description tab
Editing the Item Description
The Description tab lets you view and edit metadata for ArcGIS items. You can provide a concise Item Description with the default settings. To create detailed metadata for an item instead, choose a different metadata style.
Learn more about editing an item's description
You can create a stand-alone metadata XML file that serves as a template for all the items associated with a project. If you have a template, you can import it and then start editing to add information that specifically describes the item.
Learn more about importing metadata
- In the Catalog window, navigate to an item, right-click, then choose Item Description. The Description tab is displayed.
- If you have write access, you can click the Edit button and edit the description of your item. You can provide a thumbnail picture, set tags, and write a short summary and a longer description. You can also record credits and acknowledgments for item authors and contributors, and any limitations that apply when someone uses the item. If you have existing metadata, click the Import button.