04 June 2011

Embedding Source Info in the Metadata

So what to do about all the digital files that I've organized? First, remember that I gave everything a title that makes sense and is easy to search for. Now, I thought I might like to include the source information with the digital file. Instead of typing on the photo file, I wanted to use the metadata.

What is metadata you ask? Why, it's data about data. Metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted. What does that really mean? Well, it is a listing of information about the item. For example if it's a photograph your metadata might include the name of the camera, the day and time the image was taken, the image name or number, etc.

So, what I want to do is add a title and the source citation to the metadata so it will follow the image around wherever it goes. Basically, this is the modern way to write on the back of the picture. The information will stay with the image.

Here's one of my source files for Troy's g-g-grandparents Mathias and Pauline Lund. I have a few records for them including census' and death certificates which are jpg files and a city history which I've saved in word and pdf versions.
The titles are crafted to make the file easy to find. If you look at the contents of this folder as a list (above) you can tell right away what each file is.
I could also view the images as thumbnails. Still, the titles really help me know what's what because the images are so small. This way I don't have to open every image.

There are multiple ways to edit the metadata. You could use something as robust as Photoshop or as basic as just right-clicking the file, choose "Properties" and then the "Details" tab. You can change the data there.
I wanted to be able to print my image with the source on the same page, like a caption. I chose to use Picasa, a free image editing software from Google. So, here's what I did.

Open the source screen in Roots Magic 4. I used the "footnote" version of the source citation (on the right). I just highlighted it and copied it so I could paste it later.
Then, when I open the image in Picasa's edit window I add the citation under the comments area. That's the grey bar at the bottom under the image.
Now when I select File>Print I have the option under "Border and Text Options" to add the comment below the image when it prints.
I also added the citation in the windows properties dialog because I want to be sure that it will travel with the image if I ever send it to someone.

Now, another thing I can do with this file is save it as a pdf. This makes it really easy to share without having to print. I use cutePDF as the "printer". If you install this program, then cutePDF shows up as a printer option. Then save your file with whatever name you want. Here's the example of Mathias Lund's 1880 Census for you to check out.

This makes it really easy to share documents and make sure the sources go with them.


  1. Wow! This was so helpful, especially with all the screen shots and directions. Thanks!

  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family sagas
    and "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

  3. I have done a similar project. I renamed all my docs/photos to start with the last name. this has made organizing and searching so much easier.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)