Anatomy of a glossary

A glossary is a collection of common data definitions, typically focused on defining the meaning of data. An organization may have multiple glossaries that represent different collections of definitions, each reflecting a scope of use or a source of the definitions.

Each glossary defined should have a well defined content and an owner, who is responsible for ensuring that the contributed content meets the needs of its consumers.

Figure 1 shows the typical content of a glossary.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Elements within a glossary

The glossary terms describe a single concept. The glossary categories are like folders to organize the glossary terms. Glossary terms that are related to one another can be linked together with term relationships. There are different types of term relationships that help to pin down how the glossary terms are related. Finally there are classifications that can be linked to the glossary itself, the glossary categories or the glossary terms. The classification provide more information about the kind of element it is connected to, or its intended use.

The sections that follow provide more information about these concepts and how they are used. There is further information on how to define a glossary in the Coco Pharmaceuticals scenarios.

Inside a glossary term

At a minimum glossary term has a name - this is the concept it describes, and a short description that explains at a high level what this concept means. This short description should distinguish it from other terms.

For some glossaries, this may be all that you need. However, if this is an important term and the consumers of it will want to know much more, then the glossary term can be built out to include a more detailed description and supplementary information such as:

Figure 2

Figure 2: Contents of a glossary term

The glossary term may then be organized into one or more categories, classified and linked to related terms.

Glossary categories

Glossary categories provide a folder structure for organizing glossary terms. A category belongs to a single glossary but it may contain glossary terms both from its local glossary and other glossaries. Categories can also be nested inside a single parent to create a folder structure.

Figure 3

Figure 3: Glossary categories

Glossary term relationships

Glossary terms can be linked together in pairs to show that they are related in some way.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Glossary term relationships

The relationships between glossary terms are divided into two groups:

Glossary classifications

The contents of a glossary can be further described using classifications. These are descriptions that tell the consumer more about how the glossary is defines and used.

Figure 5

Figure 5: Glossary classifications

There are different types of classifications for the glossary itself, each glossary category and each glossary term.

Classifications for a glossary

A glossary may be classified to describe the way its content should be used.

Classifications for a category

Classifications for a term

Further information