Subject Codes

News Categories Taxonomy for the Media:
The predecessor of IPTC Media Topics

The Subject Codes is the original IPTC subject taxonomy, with a focus on text. It consists of about 1,400 terms structured into 3 levels.

IPTC is not actively maintaining the Subject Codes taxonomy, and would recommend that news organisations adopt its successor, the Media Topics vocabulary.

The Subject Codes vocabulary can be viewed on the IPTC Controlled Vocabulary server at In addition it can be downloaded as NewsML-G2 Knowledge Item, RDF/XML or RDF/Turtle document, please read the Guidelines. A less formal and more user-friendly tree-like view is also available.

The Subject Codes vocabulary is a member of the family of IPTC NewsCodes, read more about the generic features and terms of use.

History and Background

The first version of the Subject Codes was developed in the 1990s at a time of only first ideas about the Semantic Web and no common structures for taxonomies to be used with the web. Therefore the Subject Codes design follows rules which are considered as constraint now: the codes use a limiting format, not more than 3 hierarchical levels are supported and this resulted into squeezing in some terms.

For that reason the further development of the Subject Codes was stopped in 2010 and a new and upgraded variant was revealed: the IPTC Media Topics. They have adopted a majority of the terms of the Subject Codes but are not subject to its formal constraints.