Metadata Input Guidelines: Coverage

Element Name



Geographic and temporal information related to the content of the resource.

Where Can the Coverage Information be Found?

In many cases, the item must be read/examined to find coverage information but it may come from:

Item Types Information Sources
For text
  • titles
  • abstracts
  • tables of contents
  • section/chapter headings
  • text
For images
  • bottom or back of a photograph
  • visible items (people surroundings, objects, etc.)
  • illustrations
For maps
  • statement in a caption
  • notes around the outside of the map
  • geographic area and time period of the map
For music scores
  • title page
  • table of contents
For videos
  • label on disc
  • container cover
For sound files
  • information on disc/cassette
  • container information
For computer files
  • title page/screen
  • text of document

In some cases coverage dates and places may come from accompanying or supplementary information.

How Coverage Works in the Metadata Form

1. Coverage type – drop-down menu
2. Coverage – text field
Note: Some coverage information opens in a pop-up modal
Yes - to include different kinds of coverage information, click ‘Add’ to repeat all field parts
Coverage location (Place Name, Place Box or Point) can be repeated to include multiple places
Coverage eras (Time Period) can be repeated to include multiple eras
Coverage dates should be expressed in a single entry as an individual date or date range(s)
No (more information)

How Should the Coverage be Filled in?

General Coverage Guidelines

  • Multiple places and time periods may be included when relevant
  • Coverage is about the content of the item
    • For some items (e.g., original photographs) the coverage date will be the same as the creation date
    • For text items dates and locations may overlap with creation dates and publisher locations but are often different
    • For reproductions, consider that the content and creation may not match regardless of type (e.g., a copy negative would have a different creation date than the coverage date, which will match the original photo)

Place Name(s)

  • Place names include sovereign political entities (such as countries) and continent-level regions
Guideline Example
  • Include all relevant places covered in the item
United States

  • Note that most locations will already have an established form that should be chosen from the searchable modal, when possible. If the location name is not in the system, follow the instructions below.
  • Use a hierarchical format of the current place name in the GeoNames Database:
  • Separate elements of the hierarchy with a space followed by a hyphen and then another space

  • Begin with the largest ("country" level) and proceed to the smallest relevant geographical unit
Canada - Ontario Province

England - Brighton and Hove Unitary Authority - Brighton

Poland - Lower Silesia Province - Lubin County - Lubin Gmina - Lubin
  • If the place is a territory (or a "dependent state"), treat it as a country and do not include the parent nation in the hierarchy
North America

Central America and Caribbean
  • If the item content covers the entire United Kingdom rather than the individual countries, the nation name can be used alone as a coverage location
United Kingdom
  • Do not include political groups (e.g., the European Union, United Nations, etc.); instead list the relevant member countries
  • Do not include:
    • Any levels smaller than the 'city' or inhabited place level (parks, neighborhoods, etc.)
    • Names of military installations that are not also designated as "populated places"
    • Geographic regions other than continents (e.g., Midwest)
Coverage Place: United States - Texas - Palo Pinto County - Mineral Wells
Keyword: Crazy Park

Keyword: New England
  • For bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) and geographic landmarks (e.g., mountains):
    • Include the country or region (if relevant) or
    • Leave the coverage place blank for oceans or landmarks that are not contained in a specific region
Coverage Place: United States - Texas
Keyword: Neches River

Keyword: Atlantic Ocean
  • Proper names can be included as keywords
  • For a neighborhood, subdivision, etc.:
    • Use the smallest appropriate level (usually a county or a city)
    • Add the name of the area as a keyword using the full name/designation
  • A colonia or "Census Designated Place" (CDP)* is treated the same as a city
  • Other forms of the name (e.g., with the CDP note) can be added as keywords

*Note: a CDP is defined according to the U.S. Census Bureau and is noted in their database

Coverage Place: United States - Texas - Taylor County - Abilene

Keyword: Brook Hollow Subdivision

Coverage Place: United States - Texas - Webb County - Ranchitos Las Lomas

Coverage Place: United States - Texas - Webb County - Village East Colonia

Keyword: Ranchitos Las Lomas CDP, Texas

Coverage Place: United States - Texas - Taylor County

Keyword: Camp Barkeley
  • Write out "County", "Parish", "Province", and other relevant descriptors (not "State")

  • For (most) places in the United States, the same form should always be used:

United States - [State] - [County] County - [City]

Italy - Latium Region - Rome Province - Rome

United States - Louisiana - Caddo Parish - Shreveport

United States - Illinois - Cook County - Chicago
  • If the region being described has changed names, use the current form of the name
Coverage Place: Puerto Rico
Keyword: Porto Rico

Coverage Place: Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh Municipality - Ho Chi Minh City
Historic Place Name: Vietnam - Saigon
  • Exceptions:

1. New York City encompasses five different counties, so the "county" part of the hierarchy should be omitted

United States - New York - New York City

2. New York boroughs can be included at the level below "city"
(use the relevant county within the hierarchy)

United States - New York - Kings County - New York City - Brooklyn Borough

3. For "Hollywood" do not include "Los Angeles" as the city

United States - California - Los Angeles County - Hollywood

4. The District of Columbia should be written "Washington D.C."

United States - Washington D.C.

5. Within the United States, do not include places in the hierarchy between 'county' and 'city' e.g.:
United States - Texas - Galveston County - Galveston Island - Galveston
United States - Indiana - Hancock County - Vernon Township - McCordsville

United States - Texas - Galveston County - Galveston

United States - Indiana - Hancock County - McCordsville

6. Places classified as "Independent Cities" will not have counties

United States - Missouri - St. Louis Independent City - St. Louis

7. There is no need to include a descriptor (such as "Department" or "National District") if it already appears in the name (Département de Ville de Paris, Distrito Federal, etc.)

France - Île-de-France Region - Département de Ville de Paris - Paris

Portugal - Distrito de Lisboa - Lisbon

Historic Place Name

  • For places that have changed names, it may be appropriate to include a historic place name, so that users can still search the location in the coverage field
  • Generally, historic place name(s) will be added in addition to coverage place value(s) that use the current version of the location’s name
  • In some cases, it may be more appropriate to put the name in a keyword instead, such as the name for a body of water (which is excluded from place names), even if it is a historic usage
Guideline Example
  • Add the historic name of the location
  • If known, use a hierarchical format to provide context
Yugoslavia - Brod

United States - Indian Territory - Canadian County - El Reno


France - Alsace Region - Bas-Rhin Department - Herrlisheim

New Spain


  • Place point and place box are used to represent specific coordinates when available information is more specific than a place name (e.g., place points should not be dropped in a city center unless that is the actual location of the content)
  • Values may be approximate, but should be as accurate as possible
  • After choosing place point or place box in the drop-down menu, clicking in the text area will pop up with a Google Maps interface
    • Follow the instructions in the modal to place a precise point or to draw a box representing the area
    • Click “Insert” to save the information (the coordinates will automatically be saved in the record)
  • Geocoordinate options are repeatable, but multiple point(s) or box(es) should be used sparingly, and only when this level of specificity is appropriate

Place Point

  • Place points are appropriate to denote a specific location such as:
    • The vantage point of an image (generally from ground level)
    • Marking the center of a building for an interior photo (or unknown vantage point of a known building)
    • Textual content about a building or specific location
    • Audio/video recorded at a known location (e.g., a building or vantage point)

Place Box

  • Place boxes are appropriate when content encompasses an entire area, such as:
    • A map
    • An aerial photograph
    • An architectural drawing
    • A technical report about the survey of a specific area
    • A pamphlet/guide for a park, historic estate, etc.

Multiple Geocodes

  • In specific cases where the content encompasses multiple points/areas place points and place boxes are repeatable, such as:
    • A photo or image collage of multiple buildings or locations
    • A technical report of study about multiple discreet areas
    • A map (box) with an inset photo (point)
    • Different maps printed on two sides of the same sheet

Time Period

  • Time period refers specifically to the browse structure used for Portal records
  • Time period(s) should be chosen from the controlled vocabulary to reflect the era(s) of the content
  • In cases where the years of the time periods overlap, always use the most generic era unless a more specific one applies
  • It is important to include the time period whenever possible in Portal records for browsing


  • Use the ‘Coverage Date’ qualifier for date(s) represented or discussed in the content
  • Note that coverage dates may be much broader than the creation date for textual materials
  • Include exact dates when applicable
  • Only use a single coverage date entry, even when documenting multiple dates or ranges
  • Use proper formatting:
Guideline Example
  • Write dates YYYY-MM-DD, separating the sections with a single hyphen
  • Include partial dates if only the year (YYYY) or only the month and year (YYYY-MM) are known or apply

  • If a date is uncertain, use a question mark at the end (YYYY-MM-DD?)
  • If the specific year is unknown, the last digit can be replaced by "X"

  • If a date is approximate ("circa"), use a tilde at the end: YYYY-MM-DD~
  • For B. C. dates, include a hyphen at the front of the date (-YYYY-MM-DD)
  • The year must have at least 4 digits
  • For a single, inclusive date range, use the interval notation


  • To represent multiple (inclusive) dates or date ranges that are not consecutive, use put dates in {curly brackets}


For additional date formats and examples, see General Date Rules.

Other Examples

Drawing: Bird’s eye view of Denton, Denton County, Texas: 1883
Place Name: United States - Texas - Denton County - Denton
Time Period: new-sou: New South, Populism, Progressivism, and the Great Depression, 1876-1939
Coverage Date: 1883
Map: Hispania nova
Place Name: Spain
Place Name: Mexico
Time Period: eur-tex: European Explorers in Texas, 1519-1689
Letter to Cromwell Anson Jones, May 19, 1869
Place Name: United States - Texas - Galveston County - Galveston
Time Period: civ-war: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1876
Coverage Date: 1869-05
Photograph: 1918 Morning After
Place Name: United States - Texas - Denton County - Aubrey
Time Period: new-sou: New South, Populism, Progressivism, and the Great Depression, 1876-1939
Coverage Date: 1918-04-15
[Bell County Ex-Confederate Association Ledger]
Place Name: United States - Texas - Bell County - Belton
Time Period: new-sou: New South, Populism, Progressivism, and the Great Depression, 1876-1939
Coverage Date: 1888~/1920
Map: Bachman Lake Park: Hike and Bike Trail Plan
Place Name: United States - Texas - Dallas County - Dallas
Place Box: N:32.8683058054, E:-96.8294005002, S: 32.8437915023, W:-96.8905119504
Time Period: mod-tim: Into Modern Times, 1939-Present
Coverage Date: 1983-03
[Letter to Johnson Moorhead from H. T. Hathaway]
Place Name: United States - Kansas - Reno County - Turon
Time Period: new-sou: New South, Populism, Progressivism, and the Great Depression, 1876-1939
Coverage Date: 1888
French World War I poster
Place Name: France
Coverage Date: 1914/1917
[House at 911 N. Sycamore]
Place Name: United States - Texas - Anderson County - Palestine
Place Point: 31.7671795871, -95.6326822933
Time Period: mod-tim: Into Modern Times, 1939-Present
Coverage Date: 1991-06
Map: Abernathy Quadrangle
Place Name: United States - Texas - Lubbock County - Abernathy
Place Name: United States - Texas - Hale County
Place Box (map boundaries): N:33.88, E:-101.75, S: 33.75, W:-101.88
Place Point (center of quadrangle): 33.81, -101.81
Time Period: tex-land: The Texas Landscape
Map: Encinal County
Place Name: United States - Texas - Webb County
Historic Place Name: United States - Texas - Encinal County
Time Period: tex-fron: The Texas Frontier, 1846-1861
Time Period: tex-land: The Texas Landscape
Photograph: The Arsenal - Kremlin offices
Place Name: Russia - Moscow Federal City - Moscow
Historic Place Name: U.S.S.R.
Coverage Date: 1985
Place Point: 55.752042, 37.617935
Time Period: mod-tim: Into Moder Times, 1939-Present


  • Note: As of February 2014, we are using the GeoNames Database as the authority for place names rather than the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names.
  • Although the coverage element appears to repeat information that could also be placed in other elements, such as subject/keywords and date, it is needed to provide the best interoperability with other metadata and resource-sharing systems. To reduce duplication, we recommend only entering location/date information the the coverage element unless it represents both creation and content (e.g., the creation date/coverage date for original photographs).
  • It is strongly recommended that both coverage place(s) and coverage time period(s) be included in order to facilitate the browse structure for Portal records, and to provide the best interoperability with other metadata and resource-sharing systems.
  • Recommended best practice for encoding the date value is defined in the proposed standards from the Library of Congress: Extended Date Time Format
    • For more information about date implementation and local practices, see the Date guidelines and the notes in the Comments section.
  • For coverage place names, the following continent names can be used in place of countries (derived from the CIA World Factbook):
    • Africa
    • Antarctica
    • Arctic*
    • Australia/Oceania
    • Central America and Caribbean
    • Central Asia
    • East & Southeast Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • South America
    • South Asia

*Although the “Arctic” is not on the list of continents, it is used as a regional term for maps in the Factbook; it can be used when the item is related to the whole Arctic region rather than specific continents/countries

Based on the browse features in the CIA World Factbook the following countries are in the three Asian regions:

Central Asia East & Southeast Asia South Asia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Russia
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Brunei
  • Burma
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • North Korea
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paracel Islands
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spratly Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Vietnam
  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

Back to Coverage Place Names




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