Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
Forum Guide to Metadata
NFES 2009-805
July 2009

Appendix A. Common Word Lists for Naming Metadata Elements

This appendix provides an example of standard definitions for common words that can be adapted to meet the needs of state and local education agencies around the nation. This type of tool helps to standardize data element names throughout an organization.

An important initial step to consider when developing a data element is to adopt a set of common words (or lexicon) as naming conventions. This will ensure that data names are consistent and distinguishable throughout the organization. This appendix presents an excerpt of common words used by the California Department of Education to name and define commonly used terminology related to data.


Common word list for naming data elements: Data attributes

(Source: California Department of Education)

This table offers examples of commonly used terms and is not exhaustive.

Data attributes-
Examples of
common words
Common word definition
Amount A monetary quantity in some type of currency, such as dollars. Not a count of capacity.
Code Alphabetic or numeric coded data values that indicate the existence of a code table data entity. Should not be used if data values are not coded.
Comment A textual comment about an object. Similar to Explanation.
Constant A numerical value that does not change over time or circumstances and is used in one or more calculations.
Count The number of objects that exist or have occurred. Not the same as Amount or Number.
Duration A time interval or duration representing an elapsed time or the length of time an event lasted.
Explanation A textual explanation about an object. Similar to Comment.
Flag An indication that some event has happened or should happen. A binary situation, such as, on/off, true/false, 0/1, or yes/no. Similar to Indicator.
Identifier A unique alphabetic identification of an object. Generally not just a number.
Indicator An indicator of two possible conditions. A binary situation, such as, on/off, true/false, 0/1, or yes/no. Similar to Flag.
Value A monetary value that indicates the worth of something in some type of currency. Not the same as Amount.

Common word list for naming data elements: Data entities

(Source: California Department of Education)

This table offers examples of commonly used terms and is not exhaustive..

Data entities-
Examples of
common words
Common word definition
Account A data entity for tracking and managing monies, such as customer account.
Authority A data entity for approval or delegation, such as expenditure authority.
Authorization A data entity showing approval or delegation, such as employee account authorization.
Budget A data entity for planned monetary or effort expenditure, such as yearly budget.
Category A data entity representing a classification or grouping of objects, usually higher than class or group, such as equipment category. The hierarchy should be common for the organization, such as category, group, or class.
Class A data entity representing a class of objects, such as facility class. The hierarchy should be common for the organization, such as category, group, or class.
Detail A data entity containing details about a parent data entity, such as customer account activity detail.
Exemption A data entity containing an exclusion or different situation, such as tuition exemption.
Expense A data entity for expenses, such as goods or services, or for monies expended, such as equipment expense.
Group A data entity representing a specific grouping of objects, such as building group. The hierarchy should be common for the organization, such as category, group, or class.
Summary A data entity of "summary of data" above a detailed operational level, such as employee leave summary. Usually used in an executive information system (EIS).
Type A data entity representing types of objects, such as equipment.
Validation A data entity for verification or proof of a combination of objects, such as equipment part validation.

Top

Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.