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Keywords

Updated 14-November-2022



Overview

A keyword is a short phrase attached to a title (e.g. movie / series / episode) that describes it in some way. The main purpose of keywords is to allow entertainment fans to easily search and discover titles.

  • A keyword can be a single word (e.g. waterfall) or a phrase with words separated by a dash (e.g. world-war-two; running-away-from-home)
  • Keywords should be lower-case.
  • Please check to see what already exists before contributing a new keyword. A list of the keywords currently being used can be displayed by clicking on the gray list icon ( ) next to the keyword field.

Keyword Categories

You can specify which category a keyword belongs to when contributing it. For example, the category "subgenre" can be selected for the "jungle-adventure" keyword on Jumanji (1995) to signify that it belongs to the jungle adventure subgenre. Likewise, the category "plot detail" can be selected for the keyword "stampede" on The Lion King (1994) to signify that a stampede occurs in the plot.

If your contribution is approved then you will see the keyword under a subheading corresponding to the category you selected. Besides making the keywords more digestible, these categories are also helping entertainment fans to discover and decide what to watch. For example, the subgenre and plot timeframe keywords are currently being used to power games in the IMDb What to Watch app on Amazon Fire TV devices.

It is possible to select different categories for the same keyword on different titles. For example, Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996) can have the "stand-up-comedy" keyword with the category "subgenre," while Seinfeld (1989-1998) can have the same "stand-up-comedy" keyword with the category "plot detail."

It is not yet possible to select different categories for the same keyword on the _same title_. For example, The Godfather (1972) cannot have two "organized-crime" keywords - one with the category "subgenre" and the other with the category "plot-detail." In these rare cases we prioritize the subgenre over the plot detail, so The Godfather (1972) should have only one "organized-crime" keyword, with the category "subgenre."

Please note that keyword categories are currently only displayed in the IMDb iOS and Android apps - they are not yet displayed on the IMDb website. It is also not yet possible to vote on keywords in the apps. However, we are aware that these are popular missing features.

The following keyword categories are currently supported:


Subgenres

Used to specify which subgenres apply to the title. For a subgenre to be valid, it should play a meaningful part in the overarching plot/setting/medium of the title. For example:

  • An adventure film that has one scene in a jungle should not have the subgenre "jungle-adventure."
  • A comedy that has one joke about death should not necessarily have the subgenre "dark-comedy."
  • A CG-animated film that has one 2D-animated scene should not have the subgenre "2D-animation."


Expand the lists below to see suggested subgenre values. It is possible to contribute other values not listed below, however please only contribute another value if an equivalent suggested value does not exist. For example, please use the suggested keyword "dark-comedy" instead of "black-comedy," and use the keyword "disaster-action" instead of "disaster" for a disaster movie/series belonging to the action genre.



Plot Timeframe

Used to specify what timeframe the title's plot is set in.

  • The level of precision can be either period, century, or decade and all applicable precisions can be contributed to a title. For example, Fences (2016) is set specifically in the 1950s, so should have the keyword "1950s" but can also have the keyword "20th-century."
  • If the plot moves between multiple timeframes, then the title should have a keyword for each. For example, Back to the Future (1985) moves between the 1950s and 1980s, so should have the keywords "1950s," "1980s" and "20th-century."
  • The timeframe keyword should only be applied to the plot of the title, not the decade that the title was produced and released. For example, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope was released in 1977, but shouldn't have the keyword "1970s" applied to it, as it isn't set in the 1970s.

Expand the lists below to see suggested plot timeframe values. It is possible to contribute other values not listed below, however please follow the same format:

  • Plot Timeframes should no longer be prefixed with "timeframe-." Selecting the "Plot Timeframe" category is sufficient.
  • Centuries should be ordinal (i.e. 1st/2nd/3rd/4th etc.) and suffixed with "-century."
  • Decades should be the full year (e.g. "1990s" not "90s") ending with "s."

Plot Details

A plot detail is any notable object, concept, or action that takes place during a title. Plot details do not include other types of keywords that have their own dedicated categories, such as subgenres, moods and plot timeframes. Plot detail keywords are open-ended - they are not constrained to a specific list of words. However, please adhere to the following guidelines.

Invalid plot details

Please avoid the following:

  • Plurals: Use singular words. For example, trains should be train
  • Episode-specific keywords submitted to the TV series page: Keywords submitted to the TV series page should be relevant to and describe the entire series. Keywords that are specific to a particular episode should be added to that episode only.
  • Accented words: For example, café should be cafe
  • Non-English words: Keywords should be in the English language
  • Repeating the title: For example adding shawshank-redemption as a keyword to the title Shawshank Redemption. If the movie Shawshank Redemption is mentioned or referred to during a title, you can use the keyword reference-to-shawshank-redemption
  • Repeating genres: For example, we have the genres Romance and Drama so you can submit these as genres to the title rather than submitting the keyword romantic-drama. For an exceptional genre on an episode that does not relate to the overall series, please see the -episode special keywords below.
  • Production Company: The production company for a title will not be accepted as a keyword (e.g. amazon-studios)
  • Distribution Company: The distribution company for a title will not be accepted as a keyword (e.g. netflix)
  • Names without context: This includes actors/actresses/crew members/real life people (e.g. marilyn-monroe or barack-obama). Exception: We do accept name keywords with a relevant descriptive signifier (e.g. reference-to-barack-obama, marilyn-monroe-parody, john-williams-satire, jennifer-lopez-sketch, viola-davis-interview).

Other

Used to capture any keywords that do not fit into the above categories. IMDb may create dedicated categories for some of these keywords in future. Please note that the "Other" category is currently only displayed on the title keywords subpage and not the main title page.


Special Keywords

The following keywords trigger specific display functions on the site:

CategoryKeywordUsage
OtherreenactmentUsed for a Documentary so that actors portraying scripted people are not listed as 'Self' if they have a character name.
Othernon-fictionUsed for a non-Documentary title, like a Talk-Show, to indicate that the people are portraying themselves.
Othertv-specialAffects the display of a title; it will say 'TV special' instead of 'TV movie' at the top of the page. Also acts like the non-fiction keyword.
Othertv-mini-seriesAffects the display of a title; it will say 'TV miniseries' instead of 'TV series' at the top of the page.
Plot Detailshardcore | sexThese two keywords, combined with the Adult genre, will restrict the display of a title to those people who have chosen to see adult titles
Other-characterUsed to denote a character's appearance in a title. The formatting should be presented as the name of the character first, followed by "-character." So, for Star Wars, we'd list Han Solo as "Han-Solo-character." This can be used for both fictional characters, and fictional portrayals of real life people (including when someone is playing a fictionalized, scripted portrayal of themselves). Please note that if the character is recurring in a series the character keyword should only be added to the parent and not individual episodes.

The following keyword have specific meanings:

CategoryKeywordUsage
Otherf-ratedUsed for any title which is either directed by a woman and/or written by a woman.
Othertriple-f-ratedUsed for any title which is directed by a woman, written by a woman and features significant women on screen in their own right.
Other-episodeUsed on an episode of a series to assign a genre where that particular episode is "out of the ordinary" and is unlike most others in the series i.e. "musical-episode" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, with Feeling. Especially useful for anthology series.

Duplicate Keywords

To report a duplicate keyword please go to our contact form and let us know the details of the keywords you think should be combined.


Tracking Your Contribution

You can now track the status of your keyword submission and if it does not show as approved in your Contribution History, we'll tell you the reason why.

More information on how to do this can be found on our Contribution History help page.

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