Metadata for Manuscripts: Summarizing a Manuscript

Documents often require a short summary as metadata that is captured into the Description field. These should be done in just two or three sentences answering the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why and How?

In creating the summary, make sure that you always USE THE PRESENT TENSE even when a person is deceased, or an organisation is no longer in existence.

There are a number of different types of documents, all of which need different treatment in some way. Please follow the instructions below:

1. Documents

1.1 With Titles

Where there is a title in a document copy only that into the Caption field. Copy the title exactly but do not put a full stop at the end even if there is one in the original document.

For Example:

Re: Invitation to Forthcoming Conference

IMPORTANT – Notice of Termination of Lease  

1.2 Without Titles

Where there are no titles in a document the WHOLE document must be summarised. This must be done in approximately 1 to 2 sentences NOT more than 3 sentences. The précis must be clear and concise ideally answering the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why and How?

For Example:

John Smith criticises the use of herbicides in gardens because this can contaminate pond water. The effect is devastating on pond life. He concludes that frogs are affected above other aquatic species.

2. Letters

For letters there are some fundamentals that need to be captured:

i. Identify the author and state the organisation to whom the author is affiliated.

ii. State the name of the recipient of the letter and state the organisation to whom the author is affiliated if applicable.

iii. State what the content of the letter is about. This must be a brief summary.

For Example:

John Smith of New University writes to Jane Doe of Old University inviting her to attend a forthcoming symposium on South African wildlife.

John Smith of New University requests a signed photograph from Jane Doe of Old University.

John Smith of New University congratulates Jane Doe on attaining her degree. 

3. Business Cards

For Example:

Business card for John Smith, Senior Professor at New University

(Note this is not a full sentence and therefore must not have a full stop at the end)

4. Cheques

For Example:

Cheque drawn from John Smith’s New Bank account in favour of Jane Doe for the sum of R200.00

(Note this is not a full sentence and therefore must not have a full stop at the end)

5. Invoices and Receipts

For Example:

Invoice for John Smith from Radio Rentals confirming receipt of the sum of R200.00

Receipt issued by Radio Rentals for the sum of R200.00 received from John Smith

(Note this is not a full sentence and therefore must not have a full stop at the end)