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From the author of What Is Tagging?

What Is Tagging?

Tagging is the assignment of descriptive words or categories to content, using terms that mean something to the person doing the tagging. When users add tags to content in SharePoint, they're essentially adding metadata to describe what the content contains, what it does, or what it's about. Tags extend the organizational taxonomy, which improves content "findability." Tags help to expand your solution's information architecture over time and, most importantly, they extend the responsibility for evolving the information architecture to everyone in the organization. This feature helps to associate content with new and emerging terms—even before these terms are formally added to the organization's taxonomy.

SharePoint 2010 offers two primary types of tagging:

  • Authoritative tagging. In this type of tagging, a content contributor or editor selects or adds a value in a column defined by the content designer. This is a form of authoritative metadata—it's assigned by the content contributor in a structured field.
  • Social tagging. In this type of tagging, a content consumer assigns a "social" tag to a document. A social tag is a value entered by any user—typically not the content editor. As the user starts typing a value, SharePoint provides a list of previously used social and managed terms (keywords), and the user can choose to select from this list. Since any user can add this social metadata, these tags or keywords are not considered authoritative, but they can be used to filter content in search results.

A special tag unique to SharePoint is the managed keyword. Managed keywords are authoritative tags because they're added by users who have content-editing privileges. The source of these values includes the managed terms for the site as well as the social data values used by other content contributors and "visitors." You can think of managed keywords as social tags assigned by a content editor. (Making the situation a little more interesting, content editors can choose to prohibit users from adding their own managed keywords to items, by requiring the user to select from existing values.)

Out-of-the-box document libraries in SharePoint 2010 include the following columns from SharePoint 2007:

  • Title
  • Created By
  • Modified By
  • Checked Out To

In addition, SharePoint 2010 document libraries include a new column:

  • Managed Keywords

Like any other column, Managed Keywords helps users to find content in a library. However, the values of Managed Keywords columns are more flexible and less structured than those of other columns, which provides a very dynamic way to react quickly to evolving terms, opportunities, and emerging business needs.

Because more than one managed keyword can be assigned to the same document by default, managed keywords act like a "checkbox" attribute. However, some conventions apply to assigning managed keywords:

  • Separate values with a semicolon (;) rather than a comma (,). Commas in a list of managed keywords will be replaced automatically with semicolons. For example, suppose you enter this as your keyword:
  • X, Y, and Z

    SharePoint will replace your entry with these three separate values:

    and Z
  • Use an ampersand (&) or spaces to separate words that should be combined as a single keyword. For example, if you enter the following:
  • Peanut butter & jelly

    SharePoint will add the entry as a single keyword. By contrast, suppose you entered it this way:

    Peanut butter; jelly

    This entry would result in two keywords.

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