Patent Collection Metadata Guidelines

Before You Start

  1. Sign in to the editing system

    • Remember: username is first initial and last name

  2. Choose a record that has not been edited by clicking on the title/thumbnail

    • Unedited records will have only the patent number/all digits as the title, e.g.: 00005661 or 01056778

    • Note: If another editor is already working on a record, a lock icon will display on the thumbnail in the Dashboard list

    • Do not choose a record labeled “SKIP” in the title – these records have known problems or special considerations

  3. In the item summary click “View Item” or in the record, click on the thumbnail (upper-right side of the screen) to see all of the pages

    • Skim the pages of the patent to make sure that there are no problems (e.g., all of the pages are included and the text/illustrations match)

    • Double-check that the inventor (or a personal assignee) is from Texas by looking at the statement near the top of the text, where the inventor and patent title are listed

    • If you find any of these problems (before or after you start), add a note to the title (e.g., “##### – SKIP pages mismatched” or “Garden-Hose – SKIP inventor is not from Texas”) and leave the patent hidden without completing the record


  1. Look at the pages of the patent and enter information step-by-step into each field as described below

    • You can view the pages by clicking on the thumbnail in the record

    • It may be helpful to look at the example values included with the guidelines to verify formatting

    • These slides show visual examples of where to find information in the patents

    • There is a video tutorial if you would like to see an example record from start to finish

  2. Some information has been pre-filled in every record

    • Do not change pre-set information unless there are instructions to do so

    • Some fields will not change:

      • Publisher - United States. Patent Office.

      • Language - English

      • Collection - Texas Patents

      • Institution - UNT Libraries GovDocs Department

      • Resource Type - Patent

      • Format - Text

  3. Always enter separate information (e.g., multiple names, titles, keywords, etc.) as separate entries in the field

    • Click on the + sign at the bottom of the field to add a new entry

    • More about adding multiple entries can be found here: Help Guide

  4. For each field, read the instructions below and review the examples

  5. To find more information on formatting for any field, read the appropriate page in the full guidelines

    • Click on the “more guidelines” links on this page or

    • Click on the “More” link at the top of the field in the editing form





  1. Remove the title place-holder (folder/identifier)

  2. Use the title from the header at the start of the text

  3. Use title capitalization

  4. Punctuate the title as written

  • Wire Fence.

  • Improvement in Seeding-Machines.

  • Improvement in Machines for Polishing Marble, &c.


  • For patents that have a titled illustration:

    • Include the title on the first illustration page as an added title

    • Do not include the illustration title if is identical to the text title

  • Main title: Improvement in Cotton-Pickers.

  • Added title: Cotton Harvester.

  • Remember: Add an entry by clicking on the + sign at the bottom of the field

    • More about adding multiple entries in the editing system can be found here: Help Guide

  • Main title: Hand-Stamp.

  • Added title: Hand Stamp.


All Names

  • These are general guidelines for both creators and contributors, but more specific information is included for each of those fields individually




  • There are place-holders for the inventor, 2-4 witnesses, and the printer (the attorney name is not required and does not need to be included)

    • Make sure to remove the “[]” or “{}” in the name field

    • You should not need to change information in the drop-down menus for place-holder values

  • If necessary, add additional name entries after the place-holders (e.g., for a second inventor)

  • Choose the appropriate type/role from the drop-down menus

  • Assignee

  • Inventor

  • Illustrator

  • Agents can only be listed once per record across both the creator and contributor fields

  • If a person (or organization) has multiple roles, they should be listed once, with the most import or first-named role; the info section can be used to clarify additional roles

  • Name: Blourse, D. B.

  • Info: Witness for text and illustration


  • For persons:

    • Invert names (last, first)

    • Add a space between initials

    • Put necessary suffixes at the end

  • Write out standard abbreviations but include the alternate (abbreviated) form in the creator/contributor information, e.g.:

    • Chas. = Charles

    • Geo. = George

    • Jas. = James

    • Jno. = John

    • Thos. = Thomas

    • Wm. = William

  • Also see this list of less-common abbreviations of given names

  • Name: Thomas, George C.

  • Info: Geo C. Thomas

  • For organizations:

    • Use a standard version, if known (see the Contributor section since many of the names occur frequently)

    • Write the name of the organization as it is printed on the patent




  • Allgaier, George E.

  • Donovan, I. T.

  • Austin, John Overton

  • Milner, Thomas, Jr.

  • Add the author statement from the header to the information section

  • Alternate forms of the name (from the text) can also be included in the same line

  • Augustus C. Allen, of Houston, Texas.

  • Charles Porter, of Fort Worth, Texas.

  • Otis Andrews, of El Paso, Texas. ; O. Andrews.

  • If the author is an assignor e.g., “Assignor of one-half to…”:

    • List the assignor as the creator with the role “inventor”

    • Include the full statement in the creator information

    • Include the assignee as a contributor with the role “assignee”

  • Name: McKay, Robert B.

  • Role: Inventor

  • Info: Robert B. McKay, of Logansport, Louisiana, Assignor of one-half to Bailey A. Roper, of Tenaha, Texas.




  • Add the two witnesses who are listed at the end of the text

  • Use the same formatting as creator names (see also: full contributor name guidelines)

  • Note that witnesses are always labeled “witnesses” but may not be listed on every patent

  • Hollinghead, John S.

  • Northen, Mary Eva

  • Different witnesses may have signed the illustration (if present)

    • There are two placeholders with “Witness for illustration.” in the info section

    • If the signatures are readable, add the names of the illustration witnesses

    • If there are no witnesses, or if any names are illegible, unavailable, or if you aren’t certain about them, remove the placeholder(s)

  • Name: Osgood, R. F.

  • Info: Witness for illustration.

  • If you have difficulty reading signatures on an illustration page:

    • See if the names look similar to the text witnesses (some signed both) or assignee names

    • Check this list of frequent names; some witnesses signed many patents

    • Remember that many signatures contain abbreviations like “Wm” or “Geo” or “Jas”

  • If you still cannot read the name, remove the placeholder

  • If there is an illustration, include the name at the bottom of the illustration as the “printer”

    • When in doubt as to the type, assume that the name is a company (organization)

    • If the lithographer is one of these companies, use the exact name below:

      • A.M. Photo-Lithogr. Co.

      • Norris Peters Co. (sometimes written as “N. Peters”)

      • Andrew B. Graham Co.

    • Add the statement to the information section (as it is printed on the patent)

  • Name: Norris Peters Co.

  • Role: Printer

  • Info: N. Peters, Photo-Lithographer, Washington D.C.

  • Delete the place-holder entry for the printer if:

    • There is not an illustration

    • The illustration does not include the name of a lithographer/illustrator

  • Remember: Remove an entry by clicking on the x sign at the bottom of the field

    • If you only remove the text, there will still be an empty placeholder in the public display





  • Use the format YYYY-MM-DD


  • Enter the date of the patent twice (two entries)

    • This is listed in the text header - e.g., “dated May 20, 1873”

  • Label the first entry as “Creation Date” and the second as “Acceptance Date” in the drop-down menu

  • Creation Date: 1873-05-20

  • Acceptance Date: 1873-05-20


  • Add an entry labeled “Submission Date” if it is noted in the text

    • It will be in the text header, e.g., “application filed April 5, 1873”

Submission Date: 1873-04-05

Content Description



Add a brief (usually 1-2 sentence) description explaining what the patent is for

Patent for a new medical compound to treat chills and fevers which lists the ingredients and dosages.

Try to note what makes the invention unique, as far as you can determine; for example, there are many variations on farm equipment and tools, but the text will generally note that the particular design is cheaper, more versatile, easier to build or use, more efficient, etc.

Patent for a new windmill design with different sails and connections, including illustrations.

If you quote the text, be sure to cite it

Patent for “a new and improved mode of dressing millstones for the purpose of grinding every kind of grain into meal flour &c., &c.” (lines 4-7) including instructions and illustrations.

Physical Description

  • There is a placeholder for physical description: [1], # p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

  • Here is what each part means:


# p.

: ill.

; 23 cm.

Number of unpaginated pages

# of paginated text pages

: item has illustrations

; pages are 23 cm. tall

(Note: this never changes)

  • Adjust the physical description as necessary (see table below)

  • Note that as a general rule, illustrations and text are always numbered separately

  • Base number of pages on last paginated page of each section; if there is a page “2” then the preceding page is “1” even if no number is printed

Parts of physical description



# illustrated pages

# text pages

item is illustrated

h in cm.


# p.

: ill.

; 23 cm.

[1], 3 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

(1 unpaginated illustration page, 3 paginated text pages : text has illustrations ; 23 cm. tall)


remove if no illustrations

remove if no illustrations

2 p. ; 23 cm.

(2 paginated text pages with no illustrations ; 23 cm. tall)

no brackets if illustrations are numbered

3 sheets, 3 p. : ill ; 23 cm.

(3 paginated illustration pages labeled “sheet 1-3”, 3 paginated text pages : text has illustrations ; 23 cm. tall)

use brackets if un-numbered

[1] p. ; 23 cm.

(1 unpaginated text page with no illustrations ; 23 cm. tall)

[2] p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

(1 unpaginated illustration and 1 unpaginated text page : text has illustrations ; 23 cm. tall)




The general terms that are pre-populated in the records may remain, but you should add at least 1-2 more-specific subjects for locating the particular patent

UNTL-BS (University of North Texas Libraries Browse Subjects

  • Add appropriate UNTL-BS terms

  • Use the pop-up modal and/or the full list

  • Social Life and Customs - Food and Cooking

  • Agriculture - Processing and Storage - Cotton Gins

LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings)

  • When relevant, add additional LCSH terms

  • Only add LCSH terms if you are familiar with constructing them

  • Cotton-picking machinery

  • Rubber stamps


  • Add additional relevant keywords

  • Keywords should be lowercase and plural unless they are proper names

  • Consider using common spelling variations or synonyms for words used in the patent text

  • ovens

  • skillets

  • washing machines

  • harvesters

  • ploughs

  • comminution

  • pendant closures

  • escapements

Primary Source

  • Make sure that “Yes” is checked


Place Name



  • Add the place that the inventor is from

    • This is in the text header and first paragraph

    • Sometimes there is a city listed and sometimes only a county

  • When you click on the text (United States), it will open a pop-up modal

    • Highlight the text and start typing the name of the city or county and the place name should appear in the list

  • United States - Texas - Travis County - Austin

  • United States - Texas - Hill Country - Hillsboro

  • If the city is not in the list, add the name, using appropriate formatting: United States - Texas - [name] County - [city]

  • Pay attention to spacing and capitalization if you add a new place

  • If there are two places (e.g., for two inventors or an assignor and assignee), include both

  • United States - Louisiana - De Soto Parish - Logansport

  • United States - Texas - Shelby County - Tenaha





The patent number has been automatically entered

  1. Change the qualifier (in the drop-down menu) to “Patent Number”

  2. Remove any zero-padding from the number (all preceding zeroes)

  • 5661 (original: 00005661)

  • 198785 (original: 00198785)


  • Add a second identifier for patents that list a serial number at the head of the text

    • Choose “Government Documents Number” from the drop-down list

    • Write out the number as 02/######

  • Patent Number: 447374

  • Government Documents No.: 02/354853




  • Display notes are used only when there is information that does not fit in another field

  • Quote any special statements from the top of the text that is not documented elsewhere (e.g., for other dates or notes)

  • A note is not necessary if all information/dates are documented in other parts of the record

  • “Application filed June 9, 1890. Serial No. 354, 853. (No model.)”

  • “Application filed January 17, 1885. (No model.)”

  • “Application filed May 20, 1913, Serial No. 768,815. Renewed January 19, 1915. Serial No. 3,170.”

Saving the Record

  1. When all fields are completed, skim through the record to check for errors (e.g., typos, incorrect spacing, missing information, etc.)

  2. If everything is correct, select the radio button next to “Visible” to make the record public (in the upper-right side of the form, near the thumbnail)

  3. Click “Publish”

  4. If you would like to see the live record, click the “View Online” link at the top of the success page


  • Clicking publish saves a new version of the record. Do not publish the record if you have not made changes (the system will save a duplicate copy every time).

  • Saving the record is separate from the visible/hidden flag; you can publish the record and leave it “hidden,” but it will not be findable by the public.

  • Records can still be edited after they are visible – you have the ability to edit any records in the collection. Just note that if you have criteria set in the Dashboard (e.g., “only hidden records”) you may have to adjust them to see previously-edited items.

Special Cases

Here are some completed records (non-exhaustive list) that provide additional examples of situations that you might see in patents.


Example of:

Improvement in Medical Compounds of Bitters for Treading Chills and Fever.

  • no illustration

  • no numbered pages

  • date filed

Dressing Millstones.

  • quoted text in content description

Improved Method of Feathering the Sails of Vanes of Windmills.

  • two inventors

  • abbreviated name (witness)

Improvement in Propelling Vessels.

  • no city listed


  • assignor/assignee

  • serial number

  • two places

  • application date


  • applicant is not inventor


  • two serial numbers

  • application/renewal date

Cotton-Sack Carrier.

  • two inventors

  • witnesses for each signature

  • application/renewal date

Video Tutorial

This video tutorial walks through the creation of this record for a “cotton gin” patent. (You can look at the completed record values if you want to follow along.)