Using Tags effectively

Tags can be added to any item, and are a useful way to quickly and easily identify and find specific content that you own, or is found within your organization or ArcGIS Online. There are a number of approaches to using tags effectively, and thinking in advance about how you want to use tags to identify and discover your assets will help you decide what is best for you and your organization. Here are a few considerations and tips for using tags.

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Add and edit tags

You can add or edit tags when you create a map, app, or layer. You will be prompted to enter tags, and can choose from existing tags previously used or can enter a new tag. Begin typing to find an existing tag or create a new one, click the X following the tag to remove it.

You can also add or edit tags by editing your item details. Tags can be found in the item Overview tab.

Tags are located down along the right side. Click the pencil to edit tags.

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Search using tags

Each item in ArcGIS Online has a title, summary, description, and other information. When you enter a string in Search, all of these fields are scanned for a match, including the tags. Close matches are also returned via stemming, which finds derivative and closely related words.

For example, searching for “snow removal” will find anything that matches from all the available item information. Results are organized by the default of relevance, or your choice of title, owner, rating, views, and date.

If you want to search for a specific tag, use the keyword tags: in your search string as shown below. For tags using multiple words include surrounding quotes.

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Create your own tag library

If you want to pre-define a collection of tags to choose from, one technique you can use is to add all the tags you want to any private item you own. Use the private item only as your tag storage. When you add or edit your items, all the tags will be available when you add or edit tags (see Add and edit tags above).

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Don’t tag on me

When you save a map authored by someone else, existing tags will come along. Shown below are the numerous tags that accompany the 2016 Tapestry Segmentation map from the Living Atlas.

Tags are also added automatically to analysis layers. For example, the tags below were automatically added to an analysis layer after buffering store locations.

And tags will be also be automatically added when publishing from ArcGIS Desktop. These tags may not be needed, nor desirable, so can be trimmed down and edited to suit your needs and preferences. If you want to locate the map or items easily, consider adding a specific tag (or tags) that makes sense to you to help you find it.

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Tags start at the source

When adding ArcGIS Server web services directly as item, the tags are automatically generated from the listed Keywords in the Document Info section of the service details found the server’s Services Directory.

For example, below is the Document Info section for the Soil Survey map service:

When the service is added as an item from the Web, the keywords are used to automatically populate the item tags, as shown below:

Edit the item tags as desired.

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Tag tips

Since an overall Search considers all fields, it’s not important to use tags that may already appear in your item title, summary, or description. Tags may be more effective if they are used to logically and uniquely identify items you may want to discover separately from other items.

For example, for items belonging to departments tag using the department name (“Planning Department”) For tagging items pertaining to individual projects use the name of the project (“Memorial Hospital Construction”) Or tag using themes (“habitat protection”) or anything else that might make for a useful unique search. A little thought about how you and other organization members may want to discover items will help come up with a list of useful tags.

Other recommendations:

  • Use fewer tags, rather than more, especially if you intend to use tag searches.
  • Clean up spelling errors and unwanted tags as you find them.
  • Specific tags are more useful than generic ones.

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For more information

This post was originally published on January 30, 2017, and has been updated.

This entry was posted in ArcGIS Online and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

  1. jtessier says:

    I will be creating an idea on the ideaboard for this, if one doesn’t already exist, that a future version of portal should be able :
    Search across the portal users tag libraries so folks are encouraged to use the same tags for discovery consistency across the enterprise,
    and/or
    An administrator can configure a default tag library for new users when their account is created on the Portal via the Organization tools.

  2. valraa says:

    Is it possible to remove a mispelled tag created by mistake, or is it stored permanently and could not be removed? Thanks

  3. morphum_agol says:

    When I share a Web Feature layer from ArcGIS Pro and enter a tag (say: P01025) and upload the data to ArcGIS Online I get 3 more tags added on to the initial tag: P01025, ArcGIS, Service Definition, .sd
    Is there a way to prevent this from happening? We have set rules how to use tags and this is confusing for the users. Or is there any benefit from having these tags? Regards