advice, best practice, SharePoint 2010 taxonomy, taxonomy maintenance

Tips and Resources to Help You Improve and Maintain Your Taxonomy

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This is a guest blog post from Sherrard Ewing ( He is an MLIS graduate from the University of Washington Information School and has served as a taxonomist for corporate and medical organizations.

So you’ve loaded a pre-built taxonomy into your SharePoint Term Store but now you need to add new terms.  How do you make sure that the terms you add to your taxonomy keep your search experience consistent?  Luckily there are basic tips and resources at your disposal that can help.

First, check to see if there is any documentation that accompanies your prebuilt taxonomy.  This is not always available, but if it is it may save you time determining how new terms should be structured.

If documentation is not available, it’s helpful to analyze your pre-built taxonomy.  Take note of how preferred terms, synonyms and term definitions are currently structured.  Use this analysis to put together some preliminary documentation that will help you, and anyone else who may maintain this taxonomy, adhere new terms to a consistent classification format.

Lastly, see if your pre-built vocabulary conforms to any existing standards and guidelines.  This may inform you as you put together documentation for your vocabulary and ultimately save you time by referring to the guidelines instead of writing out the documentation yourself.  Notable standards are those published by:

  • ANSI/NISO Z39.19 (2005) – a commonly used set of guidelines for monolingual taxonomies.  It’s very possible your prebuilt taxonomy follows the guidelines presented here.
  • ISO2788 for monolingual vocabularies, 5964 for bilingual soon to be merged in a new standard 25964
  • British Standards InstitutionBSI 8723-1(2005) which is current but in the process of being revised.  BSI 8723-2, 8723-3, 8723-4 have been withdrawn as this standard is being revised.
These simple tips will help to provide basic guidance and you move forward with your taxonomy implementation.  Your level of documentation and adherence to existing standards and best practices will depend on your needs but developing a level of consistency early on can prevent headaches with your taxonomy down the road.

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