Content Genre

Requirement Level: Recommended

Core Element: Yes

Describes: Original Source


A more detailed sub-type refining the broader Content Type element: provides a specific characterization of the nature or style of the original content source. Genre term vocabularies have been established for specialized types of content such as art, architecture, music, and literary content. Genre terms are useful for filtering search results and providing additional browse options for end users.


Digitized image picture postcards
Website web sites
Digitized audio interview interviews
Journal article article
Digitized map contour maps

Mappings and Encoding

Dublin Core: 


See recommended mappings for additional standards.

How Do I Fill This In?



Recommended Data Entry Type:

Controlled vocabulary

Recommended/default values:

Genre terms should come from a controlled vocabulary: use an authority appropriate to your content and project. The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) is a robust authority providing genre terms for cultural heritage objects. The MARC Genre Terms vocabulary is a smaller vocabulary providing terms relevant to bibliographic materials, including sub-types of publications (e.g. article, conference publication).

Punctuation/style notes:  

When entering a value from a controlled vocabulary, make sure to preserve the entry exactly as it is presented (do not change punctuation or capitalization).

Additional detail:

Genre terms may require specific subject matter expertise to be applied correctly. Some digital collections may utilize only a sub-set of genre terms selected from a larger, complex vocabulary. Consult with a metadata specialist for guidance in applying genre terms.

If your system or schema supports it, it is recommended to provide the following attributes/properties to provide more information about your genre term entries. This extra data enhances systems’ abilities to keep the controlled terms up to date:

  • Vocabulary name or code
  • Vocabulary URL
  • Term/value ID
  • Term/value URL

System Tips:

ETDs and Open Emory use MARC Genre Terms to describe types of faculty and student research publications.

Emory’s DAMS and Keep repository systems use selected AAT terms to describe digitized special collection materials.

Primo provides its own set of Item Type values, which can be utilized for faceting search results. Because these values are proprietary to a single system and may not follow standard genre/type concepts, it is recommended to provide combination of Content Type (MODS Type of Resource values) and Content Genre (selected AAT terms) entries that can be mapped to Primo types, as opposed to entering in Primo’s types as literal values in metadata records. See the Metadata Working Group's recommended Primo Type Mappings.


My schema doesn’t have an equivalent element to store this information (e.g. EAD, FGDC, ISO 19115). Where should I record this?

Genre (and Content Type) elements may not exist in all descriptive metadata standards in use at Emory. If your schema/standard/system does not provide a dedicated element where you can record a Content Genre entry, consider adding this information to a description or title element so the information is at least searchable/discoverable by end users. This element may also be populated during a crosswalk of metadata from one standard to another.


What is a controlled vocabulary?

Links and Resources: 

Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)

How to Use the AAT Online

MARC Genre Terms

Library of Congress – list of genre vocabularies: Genre/Form Code and Term Source Codes

Recommended Primo Type Mappings for Emory Digital Collections (PDF)

Guideline last revised: 2015-02-16