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When I add something to the map, how do I know which tags to add to it?

asked 12 Jul '10, 12:36

ChrisH's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%


Tags say what an object is in reality and what properties it has, so even though there are no static rules on which tags must be used (you can even invent your own tags), it is sensible to use tags that are well-defined and used by a lot of people, because it makes it easier for programs to use the data.

To find a fitting tag for something you added, you can use the following resources:

  • The Map Features, which is a list of the most important features and tags sorted by category.
  • Check Taginfo for tags that are actually used, but be aware that the tag itself may not always be sufficient information to tell what it was meant for.
  • The Proposed features for newly proposed tags.
  • Look for specific things on "How to map a..".
  • Type in what you are looking for in the wiki search on the left (e.g. "waste basket").
  • Ask on the forum or the tagging mailinglist (archive) or ask anywhere else.
  • Look at other objects in your area to get an idea on how to tag them.

Many editors also have presets for tags, so you can just select the feature you want to add from a menu and it will automatically add the fitting tags.

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answered 12 Jul '10, 13:19

driver2's gravatar image

accept rate: 57%

edited 19 Nov '13, 18:29

SomeoneElse's gravatar image

SomeoneElse ♦

Many editors already support templates (often called "presets") for common types of objects. This feature allows you to enter data without the need to look up tags. The attributes available there will often give you a good impression of the information you could add to OpenStreetMap.

If you prefer adding tags manually, need to use less common attributes or want to discuss new tags, editor templates are probably not sufficient. The OpenStreetMap Wiki is the most comprehensive documentation of existing and proposed tags. You can often find the information you are looking for by using

  • Map Features, a table containing most of the commonly used tags
  • Category:Features, an alphabetically sorted index of real-world objects, linked to the corresponding tags
  • the wiki's search box on the left that offers both full-text and page title search

The pages documenting individual tags contain a wealth of information, including suggestions for "useful combinations": Tags that you can use to describe a feature in more detail.

Want to know how other mappers tag? Taginfo lets you find out how often a tag is being used and what tags are often used together. Tools with a similar purpose are OSMdoc, Tagstat and Tagwatch.

Keep in mind, though, that there is no authoritative source for tags. Try to be open-minded and avoid unnecessary conflicts with other mappers - mapping should be fun!

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answered 12 Jul '10, 13:27

Tordanik's gravatar image

accept rate: 35%

edited 05 Oct '10, 18:21

I'm still hoping for a "Tag Central" (as proposed at SOTM10 in Girona): a central, API accessable set of tag templates that could/will/should/whatever supercede Wiki pages and individual editor templates. Something like this still does not exist, though.

(03 Aug '10, 08:36) peSHIr

There are some tags, such as name=* that can be added to a wide range of objects on the map, whether they be roads, or points of interest. Your best bet is to search the wiki for the type of object you are tagging and follow the advice on the relevant page.

For a list of the more common map features, see


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answered 12 Jul '10, 12:42

gsteinert's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


Additionally to the map features I find this page (its German version) very helpful:

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answered 12 Jul '10, 13:05

olvagor's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


Writing answers that start with "additionally" is a bad idea as it means it needs to be read in sequence with some other answer but answers change position based on the votes they receive.

Each answer you write should stand on it's own as a complete response.

(12 Jul '10, 13:10) TomH ♦♦

Just for the future readers of this thread I would like to mention the Russian version, which describes, besides others, some Russia-specific objects:

(14 Jul '10, 13:29) GranD

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question asked: 12 Jul '10, 12:36

question was seen: 7,470 times

last updated: 19 Nov '13, 18:29

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum