Label versus Title

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Today’s Question: What is the difference between the “Label” and “Title” metadata fields?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “Label” metadata field is actually intended for a color label, and the “Title” field is intended as something of a very brief caption, literally serving as a title that briefly describes the image.

More Detail: While you might reasonably assume that the “Label” metadata field could be used to provide a text description of an image. However, this field is actually used as the Color Label. In many photo-management applications you can add a word to the Label field that defines the color of the label to be assigned. Of course, in most cases the word to be added to this field is populated automatically by the software you’re using when you use the built-in feature to assign a color label to a photo.

The “Title” field is defined as part of the IPTC metadata standard as follows:

“A shorthand reference for the digital image. Title provides a short human readable name which can be a text and/or numeric reference. It is not the same as Headline.”

In other words, the “Title” field is essentially a very brief caption. Note that the Title is intended to be used differently from the “Headline” field. The “Headline” field is defined as follows:

“A brief synopsis of the caption. Headline is not the same as Title.”

What all of this boils down to is that the “Description” field is intended to represent what you might think of as the longest form of a caption for the image. The “Headline” field is a medium length form of a caption, and the “Title” field is the shortest form of a caption. In some cases, for example, the filename for the image might be used as the Title.

Of course, for many photographers you don’t need to worry about the specific definitions and intent for the various metadata fields available to you as part of the IPTC or other metadata standard available within various photo-management applications. If, on the other hand, you are submitting images to a journalistic organization or stock agency, the proper use of specific metadata fields can be critical.

Note that you can find definitions of the metadata fields included in the IPTC metadata standard by visiting the IPTC website here:

https://iptc.org/std/photometadata/specification/IPTC-PhotoMetadata