Learn how to use metadata in designs, photographs and any type of graphic document and also including author information and contact details.

Learn how to use metadata in designs, photographs and any type of graphic document. Also about the potential of including author information, contact details, and instructions in files for distribution.

Have you ever wanted to know the author of a downloaded document? Or maybe find out the dimensions of an image without having to open an editing application such as Adobe Photoshop? Perhaps you may have wondered, what colors and/or fonts were used in a design file? All this and much more, we find it looking at its metadata. But what are they and how are they used?

Metadata is a set of standardized information about a file, such as the author name, image resolution, heading, work instructions, color space (ICC profile), copyright, keywords for search and classification, and a long list of information that travels in the document header. For example, all digital cameras save in each capture, the settings with which they were taken: aperture, shutter, sensitivity, lens type, focal length, and even the date and time when the image was captured.

The use of metadata in files has a long list of possibilities. There are a lot of applications that allow us to edit the metadata in each document, easily and in just a few minutes. It is simply a matter of dedicating a few more minutes to each document we create and including valuable information about each project.

Another great utility of metadata is the ability to include the author data in each of the created files. In this way, the authorship information resides and is transferred in the header of the files. All this can be done without the need to open the documents in your native application with which they were created.


We can classify the metadata into different categories. Some of them have specific uses for certain items, others cannot be edited as is the case with the capture data provided by the camera (Exif) and others refer to the most common properties of each file. Some categories are:

  • File properties: describes the proper and common characteristics of the file, including size, date of creation and modification date. The photographs include data such as: image resolution, dimensions, bit depth, color mode, color profile, etc.
  • IPTC: it is the global standards body for the media, whose mission is to simplify the distribution of information. Within this category there are sub-categories such as Inherited, Core and Extension. Basically in this one you will find the data such as: creator, postal address, city, country, telephone, e-mail, website, owner, description, keywords and instructions.
  • Camera data (Exif): shows all the information that the camera assigns to a photo capture including: camera settings, model, aperture, lens, white balance, flash, shutter time, sensitivity, and even when the image was taken. Valuable information for the photography team. Exif data cannot be edited.
  • Fonts: in this category, the fonts used in a design or graphic are listed. Of great use to those of us who design, at that time before opening an already created document.
  • Document samples: indispensable to know the color samples used in Illustrator and InDesign documents, without the need to open them in their respective applications. We can see the number of colors, the kind of color sample (process, spot ink) and color mode (RGB, CMYK) of each of these.
Screen capture of Metadata panel with File Properties category
Metadata panel, File Properties category.
Screen capture of Metadata panel with IPTC Core category
Metadata panel, IPTC Core category.
Screen capture of Metadata panel with Camera Data (Exif) category
Metadata panel, Camera Data (Exif) category.


To add metadata to documents, we can do it from the same application with which we created them. Unfortunately, not all applications fulfill this function and some do so to a limited extent. The recommended applications are the following:

  • Adobe Bridge: The most recommended application to add metadata to each document already created is Adobe Bridge, which is included in the Adobe Creative Cloud application package. The Bridge is basically an asset management program, which provides a long list of utilities such as adding metadata to files individually and in batches to selected documents. In addition, you can generate metadata templates and apply them to a large number of existing charts without even opening them. Finally, it allows you to export the standard metadata groups for exchange as an XMP file, occupying only a few KB.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro: To do it in an open PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro, it is only a matter of adding the metadata using the menu command File – Properties – Description – Additional Metadata.
  • Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop: This trio of graphical applications allow you to add metadata to any open design or graphic using the File – File Information menu command.
  • Preview: Application that brings macOS for free on the operating system of any Mac. It allows you to view the different categories of metadata, although it only allows the addition of keywords in images.
  • Others: There is an extensive list of applications that allow you to view and edit metadata such as Adobe Lightroom, not included in this article. Explore by searching for them in your everyday applications.
Screen capture of Adobe Bridge showing Metadata panel with file properties
Viewing file properties in the Metadata panel with Adobe Bridge.


The following is a brief glossary of terms related to and mentioned in this article:


Exchangeable Image File Format. It is a specification for image file formats used by digital cameras.


International Press Telecommunications Council or International Press and Telecommunications Council. Based in London, it is a consortium that brings together the most important news agencies and media companies.


Extensible Metadata Platform. It is a type of specified extensible Markup Language used in PDF files, photography files and photo retouching applications.


Now that you know the importance and potential of metadata, it is time to put new designs and old documents into practice to share with clients and work groups. From now on, the information you add will travel with your documents without the need for attachments. You can learn more about how to add metadata to documents and create XMP templates in any of the following courses: