What is Metadata?
Metadata is information about your data. It contains facts that can’t be disputed, the same way data does.

Here is an example from Microsoft Word. Let’s say you’re writing a letter to a co-worker. The letter consists of characters that form words and sentences. To the computer, this is translated as a series of ones and zeroes that make up the data associated with your letter. Other information about the letter includes when it was typed, who wrote it, when it was saved, and what version of Word you used. These facts are metadata.

What’s the Best Way to View Metadata for All Your Microsoft Files?
You can use Extensible Markup Language (XML) to view the metadata for all your presentations, documents and workbooks. XML is used to store metadata in computing, including Microsoft Office files. Let’s use a Word document as an example of how to use XML to view metadata:

  1. In Windows Explorer, go to your saved file.
  2. Make a copy to protect the original file.
    3 Select the copied and either click the F2 button or right-click to select Rename.
  3. Change the file extension to .zip. (NOTE: Each Office filetype ending in x contains compressed XML documents.) Click Yes on the warning that appears.
  4. Right-click the file to choose Extract All…
  5. You will be asked where to save the extracted files and whether to show them when finished. Leave the default values and click Extract.
  6. The extraction produces three folders as well as an XML file. You can examine the files to view the stored information. When you double-click an XML file, it usually
    opens in Internet Explorer.
  7. You should be able to piece together what the information means. These XML files may include your name: core.xml under the docProps folder, and document.xml
    and people.xml in the Word folder.

How Can You Delete Metadata from Microsoft Files?
Here are the steps to follow to delete your information from these files in Excel, Word or PowerPoint:

  1. Click on the File menu in the top-left corner.
  2. On the Info page, select Check for Issues near the middle of the page.
  3. Select Inspect Document and the Document Inspector opens.
  4. Ensure that all the Document Inspector checkboxes are checked, then select the Inspect button.
  5. Once the Document Inspector finishes, you can see the information it found. If you see a green
    checkmark in a circle, it found no data for that category. A red exclamation mark indicates it found
    data of that type.
  6. There’s a Remove All button next to the data type’s description. Click it to remove all data of a certain
    type. Scroll down to ensure you clear all the desired data.
  7. To double-check, click the Reinspect button to see if you missed anything.
  8. Save your document so that the data isn’t re-entered.

What you do next with the document determines whether your metadata stays gone. Digital processing, such as emailing it, may add metadata. The best option is to print and mail the document to avoid add metadata that could be traced back to you.

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