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Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata

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Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers provides guidance on how best to utilize keywords in ONIX metadata to maximize the opportunities for book product discovery by consumers, including on how to choose the best keywords for your content, how to structure keywords, where to place keywords in ONIX, and examples of keywords in use.

Topics include:

  • Why Use Keywords?
  • How to Use Descriptive Keywords Choosing Keywords Structuring Keywords
  • Where to Place Keywords in ONIX ONIX 2.1 Guidelines ONIX 3.0 Guidelines
  • When to Finalize Keywords
  • Examples of Keywords in Use K–12 Content Professional Nontextbook Titles Higher Education Textbook Titles Trade Titles
  • Resources for Finding Keywords That Work
  • And more...


The use of descriptive keywords for books is highly variable, and the use of keywords by publishers and data recipients is fluid. As the use of keywords throughout the data supply chain evolves in response to changes in technology and consumer behaviors, this document will be updated to reflect that evolution.

Copyedited by: Patricia Fogarty

Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers was written and compiled for the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) by the BISG Metadata Committee Keywords Working Group. 

Jenny Bullough, Chair, Harlequin Enterprises
Tod Bookless,
Connie Harbison, Baker & Taylor, Inc.
Caroline Hayes, Barnes and Noble
Julie Morris, BISG
Neha Thanki, BookNet Canada
Tom Richardson, BookNet Canada
Rebecca Albani, Bowker
Ralph Coviello, Bowker
Renee Register, DataCurate LLC
Marianne Nebel, Disney Publishing Worldwide
Graham Bell, EDItEUR
Martha Moore, Firebrand Technologies
Chris Saynor, GiantChair
Kate Brown, Hachette Book Group USA
Rena Kornbluh, Hachette Book Group USA
Miriam Parker, Hachette Book Group USA
Sara Sheehan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Wendell Lotz, Ingram Content Group
Frank McDermott, John Wiley & Sons
Deborah Darrock, Kaplan
Michael Walters, Kensington Publishing Corp.
Charles Hart, Kensington Publishing Corp.
Patricia Simoes, Kobo
Camilla Williams, Library of Congress
David Williamson, Library of Congress
Clark Fife, Macmillan
Julie Blattberg, Open Road Integrated Media
Yonah Hirschman, Pearson
Mary Leif, Pearson
Karen Mitchell, Penguin Random House
Laurel Stokes, Penguin Random House
Jessica Wells, Penguin Random House
Aimee Boyer, Simon and Schuster
Steven Deluca, Simon and Schuster
Suzanne Donahue, Simon and Schuster
Stephanie Lewis, Sourcebooks
Maureen Whelan, United States Government Printing Office
Katelyn Mirabelli, W.W. Norton

© 2014, the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

This document is a supplement to and should be read alongside the BISG/BookNet Canada Best Practices for Product Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers. 



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