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Labels and definitions

Preferred label

Preferred label is the favoured label for the concept. It may have an optional language tag which, in the editor, you select from the drop down list.

Alternative label

Alternative labels are used for synonyms or spelling variants.

For example

aluminium has the alternative label "aluminum"

Hidden label

A hidden label is a label which you would like to be accessible to applications performing text-based indexing and search operations, but would not like that label to be visible otherwise. Hidden labels can, for instance, be used to include commonly misspelled variants. 

For example

millimetres has the hidden label "milimeters"


Some classification schemes use notations as the primary means of access to the concepts they contain. Notations are symbols which are not normally recognisable as words/phrases in any natural language and are typically composed of digits, punctuation signs and other characters. For example, the Dewey decimal library classification system:

000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
     005 Computer programming, programs & data
          005.75 Specific types of data files and databases
               005.756 Relational databases

The skos;notation property is used to record the details of the notation scheme.

For example

Relational databases has the notation "005.756"


skos:definition supplies a complete explanation of the intended meaning of a concept. 

For example

stream flow has the definition "Total volume of water passing a stream monitoring point over a specified time period."

In the CEH vocabulary editor, definitions are stored as html and can therefore include rich text features such as styles (bold/italic/underlined), colours, images and hyperlinks.


It is unwise to delete publicly available concepts as they may be in use by users/systems.  Rather than deleting a concept, it should be deprecated to indicate to potential users that the concept should no longer to be used.

To deprecate a concept, simply set the deprecated field to true.

Relationships in the SAME scheme


The broader property is used to assert that one concept is broader in meaning than another in the same concept scheme.  For example:

ex:mammal skos:prefLabel "mammal"@en;
  skos:broader ex:animal.

The broader relationship should be read as "has the broader concept", so, the example above means "mammal has the broader concept animal".

It is perfectly acceptable for a concept to have several broader concepts.  So, for example, Iron could have both Metal and Chemical element broader concepts


The narrower relationship is the inverse of the broader relationship.  For example:

ex:animal skos:prefLabel "animal"@en;
  skos:narrower ex:mammal.

The related relationship is used to assert other, non-hierarchical associations between concepts in the same concept scheme*.  For example:

ex:meteorology skos:related ex:weather.

The related relationship is symmetric. That is, if X is related to Y, then Y is related to X.

Relationships in a DIFFERENT scheme

Broad match/narrow match

skos:broadMatch and skos:narrowMatch closely mirror the skos:broader and skos:narrower associations detailed above. However, they are used to associate concepts in different concept schemes.  For example:

cast:23 skos:prefLabel "Dissolved aluminium"@en;
  skos:broadMatch <>.

Related match

Likewise, skos:relatedMatch is similar to the  skos:related association but for concepts in different schemes.

ex:oology skos:relatedMatch <>.

Close match & exact match

skos:closeMatch asserts that two concepts are sufficiently similar that they can be used interchangeably. A skos:exactMatch is similar but denotes an even hight degree of closeness.

ex:forest skos:closeMatch <>.
ex:animal skos:exactMatch <>.


Notes are used to provide extra information relating to concepts. There is no restriction on the nature of this information, e.g., it could be plain text, hypertext, or an image.  You can include multiple notes in multiple languages.

The "Note" field can be used for general documentation purposes but there are several specialised note types for more specific types of information:

Change note

Documents fine-grained changes to a concept for the purposes of administration and maintenance. For example

ex:tomato skos:changeNote
	"Moved from 'vegetables' to 'fruits'"@en.
Editorial note

Used to provide information to aid administration of the vocabulary, such as reminders of work still to be done or warnings that future changes might be made. For example

 ex:plantPhysiology skos:editorialNote "The German and French translations need to be checked."@en.
History note

Used to describe changes to the meaning or the form of a concept. For example

 ex:jncc skos:prefLabel "Joint Nature Conservation Committee"@en;
        skos:historyNote "This concept was previously called 'Joint Nature Conservancy Council'"@en.
Scope note

Provides some information about the intended meaning of a concept, especially as an indication of how the use of the concept is limited in practice. For example

 ef:EMF skos:prefLabel "Environmental monitoring facility"@en;
	    skos:scopeNote "Laboratories are not environmental monitoring facilities from an INSPIRE perspective as the exact location of the laboratory does not add further information to the measurement."@en.

Supplies an example of the use of a concept. For example

ef:EMA skos:prefLabel "Environmental monitoring activity"@en;
       skos:example  "A research cruise of a vessel with monitoring equipment."@en.
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