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About compound objects

Compound objects are two or more files bound together with an XML structure. If working with any related item sets, such as multiple pages for an article, a book or a yearbook, ingest them as compound objects. 

Two types of compound objects are available to add using CONTENTdm Administration or Project Client:

  1. Documents: A set of related items, such as multiple pages of a report, journal, or photo album. These are flat compound objects without chapters or sections. They are referred to as regular compound objects.
  2. Monographs: Compound objects that have hierarchical structure, such as a book with chapters and sections.

When creating compound objects in Project Client or CONTENTdm Administration, two additional types are available: Picture cubes and Postcards.  These types are deprecated, meaning you can still create them, but they show no distinction from other regular compound objects in the end-user interface.  Postcards are displayed as two-page objects and picture cubes are displayed as six-page objects.

Project Client provides the most functionality to handle compound objects, while the CONTENTdm Administration porivdes limited functions for compound objects.  See Web based compound object creation for more information.  

Additionally, CONTENTdm provides the capability to create PDF compound objects from multiple-page PDF files.  To create PDF compound objects this way, you do not use the Compound Object wizard.  For more information, see Work with PDF files

Add compound object(s) in Project Client

The Add Compound Objects wizard in Project Client guides you through the decisions necessary to create a compound object. The wizard allows you to:

See Add a compound object for more information.

Compound objects added to a project in the Project Client are added to the project spreadsheet like other items. You can open them in separate tabs to edit and preview before uploading to the pending queue.

Compound Object Wizard

When to use:

  • Add one item at a time to the Add list. Then, add all compound objects in the Add list at one time to the Project Spreadsheet. Tab-delimited text files are optional.
  • If you are using tab-delimited text files with identical field mapping. The wizard leads you through the steps necessary for creating compound objects.
  • Ideal if you are importing only a few compound objects and want to process them all at once. Tab-delimited text files are optional.


  • Can be used with or without tab-delimited text files.
  • All files making up the compound object must be in one directory.

Multiple Compound Object Wizard Using Directory Structure

When to use:

  • Use if you have separate directories for each compound object with each directory containing a tab-delimited text file containing both compound object and page-level metadata.
  • Use if you have many compound objects with page-level metadata to import and already have compound objects in separate directories.
  • Ideal if your third-party scanning vendor delivers files in this format.


  • Each compound object must be in a separate directory.
  • Each compound object subdirectory contains at least a scans directory and a tab-delimited text file.

Multiple Compound Object Wizard Using Object List

When to use:

  • Use if you have one text file that lists all the compound objects to add. The tab-delimited file lists compound object-level metadata. You do not have page-level metadata to add.
  • Ideal to use if you have collections with compound objects that do not require page-level metadata.


  • One tab-delimited text file must list all the different compound objects to add.
  • Each compound object must be in a separate directory named with the title listed in the tab-delimited file.

Add a compound object in CONTENTdm Administration

See Web based compound object creation for information on adding a compound object using a web interface in CONTENTdm Administration.

Web-based Compound Object Creator

When to use:

  • Use if you have only one or two compound objects to create and do not have ready access to a Project Client.


  • All items to be incorporated into the compound object must already exist in the collection.


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