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Plan to import managed metadata (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

If your organization already has a corporate taxonomy or other hierarchical data that you want to use as managed metadata within Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, consider importing the data instead of re-entering it. Examples of hierarchical data that you might want to import include a list of product names, a list of valid cost centers, and the hierarchy of divisions, departments, and groups within the organization.

Even if your organization does not have data to import, you could consider creating your taxonomy outside of the Term Store Management tool, and then importing the taxonomy. The Term Store Management Tool provides a convenient, simple way to create term sets and manage terms, but using it to create numerous term sets might take longer than importing the term sets. The Term Store Management Tool is convenient for day-to-day management of term sets once the term sets have been created.

In this article:

  • About planning to import managed metadata

  • Locating existing data

  • Organizing the data into managed metadata

  • Cleaning up the data

  • Formatting the data to be imported

  • Importing the managed metadata

  • Merging terms and adding additional labels

Before reading this article you should understand the concepts described in the Managed metadata overview (SharePoint Server 2010) article.

About planning to import managed metadata

Importing managed metadata involves the following tasks:

  1. Locate the existing data.

  2. Organize the data into SharePoint Server managed metadata.

  3. Clean up the existing data.

  4. Format the existing data into files to be imported.

  5. Import the managed metadata.

  6. Merge terms and add synonyms and translations.

This article covers locating the existing data and cleaning up the data. The other tasks (organizing, formatting, importing, and merging) are not covered in this article because they are the same whether you are creating new managed metadata or importing existing data.

Locating existing data

Whether or not your organization has a formal taxonomy, there is probably data within the organization that could be used as managed metadata in SharePoint Server. Wherever you find a set of valid values for something, you are looking at potential managed metadata. Of course, the only data you should consider importing as managed metadata is data that is relevant to the business or to the scenarios that you are implementing.

Look for and gather information from the following sources:

  • Reference lists. What lists do people turn to when they need information for their daily work? These might include a list of departments tacked to a bulletin board, a spreadsheet that contains the project numbers of all active projects, or an internal Web site that contains a company’s product catalog.

  • Forms. Examine the forms that are used in the organization. If the form contains a field for which only certain values are valid, the field might be information that you could represent with managed metadata. For example, an expense report form might have a field for a cost center. The cost center field is probably validated against a list of valid cost centers. “Cost center,” therefore, might be a candidate for a SharePoint Server term set.

  • Taxonomies. Many large companies have already created a corporate taxonomy. Certain public entities – for example, public schools – might be part of a larger system that has developed a taxonomy. Some industry groups have developed taxonomies for sharing information. Existing taxonomies are an excellent source for managed metadata.

  • Existing SharePoint Server choice fields. If your organization has already implemented a SharePoint Server solution, examine the SharePoint Server solution for site columns whose type is Choice. When a user enters a value for a Choice site column, the user must choose from a list of valid values. That list of valid values could be a term set in SharePoint Server 2010.

  • Well-known hierarchies: People in your organization are probably familiar with a number of common hierarchies, such as the folder structure on a file share or the navigation structure of your intranet portal. These hierarchies might guide how you organize the hierarchy of managed metadata.

Organizing the data into managed metadata

The process to organize managed metadata is the same whether you are starting with existing data or creating the data. For more information about organizing managed metadata, see Plan terms and term sets (SharePoint Server 2010).

Cleaning up the data

Once you have identified existing data and determined how to organize the managed metadata, you will probably need to review and refine the data that you have collected. First, however, delete any data that you have determined should not become managed metadata.

Perform the following actions for each term set in your managed metadata plan for which data already exists:

  1. Merge lists. If you collected data from multiple sources, of which all will contribute terms for the term set, create a single list of the combined terms. For example, you might have collected a list of product names from the marketing department and a second list of product names from the manufacturing division. Combine these into one term set.

  2. Remove duplicates. If a list of terms contains the same term multiple times, remove the duplicates. Ideally, the list of product names from the marketing department would be identical to the list from the manufacturing division, and so all terms would be duplicated.

  3. Identify synonyms. If different organizations contributed terms to your list, it is very likely that they occasionally used different words for the same concept. In some cases, you might have to continue to allow different words (terms), even though they represent the same concept. When this occurs, keep all of the wordings of the term in the list. Identify the most common wording of the concept, and add a note the indicating that is the primary term for that concept. Add a note to each of the other wordings indicating that they should be merged with the primary term.

  4. Resolve misspellings and other errors. If the list contains multiple wordings for the same concept, and you do not have to preserve both wordings, choose one wording and remove the other wordings from the list. For example, one organization’s list might hyphenate a multi-word product name while the other list separates the words with spaces. Or one organization’s list might spell out the word “version” while another organization might abbreviate it to “ver”. Choose one wording and remove the other wordings.

Formatting the data to be imported

For more information about the format of the import file, see Managed metadata input file format (SharePoint Server 2010).

Importing the managed metadata

To find instructions for importing managed metadata, see ( See Wictor Wilén's blog ( for information about a tool to import term sets that was developed by a member of the SharePoint community.

Merging terms and adding additional labels

When you import managed metadata, you only can add terms and term sets. You must use the Term Store Management Tool to merge terms. If your term plan contains notes indicating that some terms should be merged with other terms, merge the terms after you have imported them. To find instructions for importing managed metadata, merging terms, and defining synonyms, see

You cannot represent synonyms or translations of terms by using a managed metadata import file. To create synonyms or translations, either use the Term Store Management Tool or write a custom program to import and add the synonyms or translations.

See Also


Managed metadata overview (SharePoint Server 2010)
Plan terms and term sets (SharePoint Server 2010)
Managed metadata input file format (SharePoint Server 2010)

Other Resources

Resource Center: Managed Metadata and Taxonomy in SharePoint Server 2010