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Best Practice: When to Use rdfs:label Versus dcterms:title

State: Approved

Contact: Nick Crossley


This Best Practice recommends appropriate usage of the RDF Schema property rdfs:label and the Dublin Core property dcterms:title. rdfs:label and dcterms:title both provide short descriptions for resources, but they should not be used interchangeably.

This Best Practice is closely related to Best Practice: Use rdfs:label and rdfs:comment in RDF Vocabularies.


rdfs:label is part of the RDF Schema vocabulary and SHOULD therefore be used in vocabulary documents to describe vocabulary terms.

dcterms:title is part of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative vocabulary and SHOULD therefore be used to describe document-like resources such as Change Requests, Requirements, Test Plans, etc. Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) specifications use dcterms:title and dcterms:description.


Use rdfs:label in the following vocabulary document (in Turtle format), to define the class oslc_cm:ChangeRequest:

@prefix oslc_cm: <http://open-services.net/ns/cm#> .
@prefix rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#> .

oslc_cm:ChangeRequest a rdfs:Class ;
    rdfs:comment "The CM Change Request resource" ;
    rdfs:isDefinedBy oslc_cm: ;
    rdfs:label "ChangeRequest" ;
    rdfs:seeAlso <http://open-services.net/bin/view/Main/CmSpecificationV2#Resource_ChangeRequest> .

Use dcterms:title in the following Plan Item 99050 document (in Turtle format), an oslc_cm:ChangeRequest resource:

@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix oslc: <http://open-services.net/ns/core#> .
@prefix oslc_cm: <http://open-services.net/ns/cm#> .

    oslc:shortTitle "Plan Item 99050"^^rdf:XMLLiteral ;
    dcterms:created "2009-11-10T10:40:55.824Z"^^<http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#dateTime> ;
    dcterms:identifier "99050"^^<http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#string> ;
    dcterms:title "(Finish) CLM reporting"^^rdf:XMLLiteral ;
    dcterms:type "Plan Item"^^<http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#string> ;
    a oslc_cm:ChangeRequest .

See Also

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