5. Displaying Controlled Vocabularies

5.1 General Considerations | 5.2 Presentation of Relationships | 5.3 Types of Displays

The way in which a controlled vocabulary is presented affects the user's willingness and ability to make use of it. This section defines requirements and recommendations for effective display of controlled vocabularies.

Note that in some applications, portions of a controlled vocabulary may be displayed in connection with the content objects they reference. However, this display is governed by the software used to generate the search results and is not covered by this Standard.

5.1 General Considerations (9.1)

5.1.1 Elements to Address

The vocabulary developer should address the following elements of the vocabulary display:

• Presentation
Presentation decisions include how to represent the term relationships, whether and how to make typography distinctions, capitalization, and filing rules. These are discussed in the next section.

• Type of Display
There are a large variety of display types that can be used, from simple alphabetical listings to complex graphical displays. Often multiple structures are presented to the user. The most common structures and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed in section 6 .

• Format
Controlled vocabularies may be delivered in print or electronic formats or both. Web and hyperlinking technology allows additional display capabilities not available in print form. Z39.19 Section 9.4 discusses format-specific considerations.

• Documentation
All controlled vocabularies should provide user documentation that describes how to use the vocabulary. Section 9.5 discusses what to include in the documentation.

5.1.2 User Categories

The design of displays for controlled vocabularies should take into account the needs of each anticipated class of user:

a) Controlled vocabulary maintenance personnel – These users have expertise in indexing and controlled vocabulary construction and are likely to be experts in the subject domain of the controlled vocabulary.
They must have access to all views of a controlled vocabulary and complete information about each term, with the ability to edit and manipulate term records, cross-references, classification notation, and hierarchies. They require “housekeeping” displays not needed by end users of a controlled vocabulary.

b) Indexers and expert searchers – These users have expertise in indexing, online information retrieval, use of controlled vocabularies, or all of these.
Indexers are likely to have expertise in the subject domain of the controlled vocabulary while expert searchers may or may not have such expertise. These sophisticated users require the ability to search and view cross-references, definitions, and notes for terms as well as various levels of the classification or hierarchies.
Postings data are especially important for searchers. Sophisticated controlled vocabulary displays and terminology are appropriate for these users.

c) End users – These users are not likely to be experienced in the jargon and complexities of online information retrieval or the conventions of controlled vocabulary notation. They may have expertise in the subject field and understand its terminology.
The types of displays available to expert searchers can be useful to end users as well, when designed with their needs in mind. End users can benefit from on-screen instructions in addition to any printed documentation that exist.

Controlled vocabulary developers may want to produce different versions of the vocabulary:

• a basic list of terms, references, and relationships designed for the end user or occasional searcher, and
• a more complete version designed for the indexer and the expert searcher, which may include detailed scope notes, indexing instructions, information on term history, and postings data.

To be continued: 5.2 Presentation of Relationships | 5.3 Types of Displays

| Table of Contents |
| 1. Why Vocabulary Control | 2. Principles | 3. Structures | 4. Semantic Relationships |
| 5. Displays | 6. When to use | 7. Examples of use | 8. About Z39.19 |
©NISO, 2005 http://www.niso.org/

Source: Based on ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 ISBN: 1-880124-65-3 
Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies