Assigning Topics & Tags

Why assign topics and tags?

The goals of the PBS topic taxonomy guidelines are to unify local station and national producer content across Merlin, COVE Pro, and If you are unfamiliar with the list of topics available in Merlin, please refer to the full PBS topic taxonomy.

COVE Pro users should be aware that this new Merlin taxonomy will eventually replace the COVE topic taxonomy. Currently, the COVE taxonomy is mapped to Merlin, so video objects flowing from COVE to Merlin will automatically be assigned to an appropriate Merlin topic.

(info) It is easy to get into a rut of using the same topics, especially for ongoing features/series. Refer to the taxonomy list every so often so you can stay aware of the topics and sub-topics available in Merlin.


How to assign taxonomy topics

  • Select a main topic (1).
  • Click Add selected topic (2).
  • Select a sub-topic, if desired, (3) and Click Add selected sub-topic* (2).
  • Merlin will auto-populate the taxonomy information (4).

*This is optional. You are not required to add a sub-topic.


Taxonomy Best Practices

  • Use a maximum of two topics to ensure the highest level of relevancy. 
  • Pick topics that are clearly expressed in your headline, image and description. 
  • Don’t forget to assign secondary sub-topics.
  • For long-form COVE Video, select topics according to the episode’s main feature/plot lines, not every subtext.
  • As a QA measure, when selecting a top-level topic, check to see if the content relates to a sub-topic. If not, there is a good chance the parent topic doesn’t apply. 
  • Refer to the taxonomy on a regular basis.
  • It’s rare for something to be both News & Public Affairs (the present) and History (the past). An archeological find or an anniversary can apply to both, but generally a station documentary, episode, or clip is about either the past or the present, not both. 



  • If there is a historical program on an ethic group, consider selecting History as your top-level topic, as well as the Race and Ethnicity sub-topic - without selecting the respective parent topic Culture & Society. Parent and child topics can be assigned independently for maximum topic flexibility.
  • A film about a cancer clinic may include a few minutes on how the doctors feel more like therapists than MDs. The time and space of the film is about running this clinic, not the psychology of treating cancer patients. Thus, Health / Healthcare & Illnesses works, but not Science & Nature / Psychology & The Mind.
  • Science & Nature is the study of the natural world, whereas, Technology covers human-made objects. Some content may apply to both, i.e. a biotechnology story.  More often than not, however, your content will likely fit better into one over the other.

(tick) For information about topic and tagging guidelines click here.