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What in the world is metadata, and why should I care?

Metadata is a big word for a simple idea. It means "data about data." In the world of mapmaking, metadata tells map users and mapmaking professionals the sources of the data on the map and the methods used to present that data.

It is a standard in map making that the legend (the box or boxes of small text on the map) provide a summary of the map's data sources. That way anyone who's interested can make his or her own judgment about the qualifications of the mapmaker (cartographer) and accuracy of the data presented by the map.

A map's or chart's legend should include the following minimum set of metadata: date of last revision, scale used and projection type, date and source of each kind of data, known errors or other limitations on accuracy.

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Charting the New Hampshire Lakes Since 1967®
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Last modified 1 June 2017