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Lifecycle of a Digital Project

Map out the project

Sketch out the components of your exhibit or project.  Create an inventory or spreadsheet with your primary sources to be included, usually these are images, texts, videos.

For digitized works:  Include this minimum information:

  • Title
  • Creator/photographer/author
  • Date of original publication/creation.
  • Date of web publication
  • Digital filename

For works found on the web, try to include the following information:

  • Creator/photographer/author
  • Year(s) the work was composed/completed
  • Institution that houses the work
  • Date the work was retrieved
  • Website/URL from which the work was retrieved
  • Digital filename

Additional metadata will depend on your purpose. For example, timelines need machine-readable dates.  Maps needs geographic coordinates. If you want to group materials into categories, you'll need well-defined keywords or subject terms.  Metadata is the key to a visualization.


  • Be consistent!

  • Create a readme file or set of guidelines that describes each field including its usage, format, and relationships to other parts of the project.  When a decision is made about how to treat a name or a term, document it here.  This is particularly helpful when working with teams of students and long-term projects.

  • Dates can be tricky because Excel and other spreadsheet programs apply formatting that makes it difficult to migrate the dates from one application to another.  If want to sort and use dates, it's usually a good idea to capture dates as plain numbers in three columns:  one each for day, month, and year.