Appendix E : Guidelines for Creating a Profile for the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata

The current Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata provides metadata collectors with formally defined elements known as standard elements. The metadata Standard attempts to standardize the content of metadata elements for a wide range of digital geospatial data. However, some users may determine that modifications to the Standard are needed to create meaningful metadata for their data sets. The Standard allows the user to create extended elements and profiles. Extended elements are user-defined elements outside the Standard needed by the metadata producer. A profile is a document that describes the application of the Standard to a specific user community.

A profile always contains the Standard, plus modifications to the optionality or repeatability of non- mandatory elements in the Standard. Modifications to the domains of standard elements can also be made where permitted by the Standard. Profiles may also contain extended elements.

Profiles may be formalized through the FGDC standards process or may be used informally by a user community. FGDC is the approval authority for profiles. To become recognized by the FGDC, a metadata profile must go through the FGDC standards review and approval process. FGDC approved profiles must specify a maintenance authority. While the FGDC is the designated maintenance authority for the Metadata Standard the organization or agency sponsoring a profile will be considered the maintenance authority for that profile.

Profiles may also be created for use with non-geospatial data holdings when this practice does not conflict with other Federal standards, directives, or statutes.


A profile must include:

  • the basic, minimum set of metadata collected to the specification of this Standard

  • all mandatory elements in all mandatory sections. These are known as the core metadata elements

  • all mandatory- if-applicable elements in all mandatory sections, if the data set has the characteristic documented in the element

  • all mandatory elements in all mandatory-if-applicable sections if the data set has the characteristic documented in the section

  • all mandatory-if-applicable elements in all mandatory-if-applicable sections, if the data set has the characteristic documented in the section


The guidelines for creating a profile follow:

  • A profile must not change the name, definition, or data type of a standard element.

  • A profile may impose more stringent conditionality on standard elements than the Standard requires. (Elements that are optional in the Standard may be mandatory in a profile.)

  • A profile may contain elements with domains that are more restrictive than the Standard. (Elements whose domains have free text in the Standard may have a closed list of appropriate values in the profile.)

  • A profile may restrict the use of domain values allowed by the Standard. For example, if the Standard contains five domain values for a standard element, the profile may specify that its domain consist of three domain values identified in the profile. The profile may require that the user select a value from the three domain values.)

  • A profile will not permit anything not allowed by the Standard. (If the Standard element has a domain of three values, without a free text element, the profile will not allow a user to enter anything other than those 3 values.)

  • Before creating a profile, the metadata producer will check existing registered profiles.

  • A profile must be made available to anyone receiving metadata that was collected according to that profile.

  • The profile document submitted to the FGDC for formal approval shall contain the same six sections as the introduction section of this Standard.

      The format of a profile document shall meet the directives of the FGDC Standards Working Group and shall consist of the following:

    1. Objectives
    2. Scope
    3. Applicability
    4. Related Standards
    5. Standards Development Process
    6. Maintenance Authority
    7. A section stating that the mandatory elements from the Standard must be provided.
    8. A section describing the changes to the domains and conditionality of Standard elements being modified from their original use in the Standard. These changes should be presented in the same manner used by the Standard.
    9. A section describing the extended elements created under this profile. This section must include all of the components of an extended element described in the Standard.