Originally published April 15, 2021

This is the 67th article in the Profiles in Knowledge series featuring thought leaders in knowledge management. Heather Hedden designs, creates, and edits taxonomies, thesauri, metadata, and ontologies for indexing and tagging content to support content retrieval, search, and findability. She trains others to create taxonomies and wrote the book The Accidental Taxonomist. I have met Helen at KMWorld.


Heather Hedden is an information management professional, with a specialization in taxonomies, ontologies, metadata, and indexing. She started her business Hedden Information Management in 2004 and has offered various services over the years: small website design and information architecture, back-of-the-book indexing, website A-Z index creation, web indexing training, taxonomy and controlled vocabulary design and creation, taxonomy evaluation and consulting, and taxonomy creation training. The focus of her business currently is taxonomy training.

Heather has alternated full-time independent consulting with employed experience and is currently employed as a Data & Knowledge Engineer with Semantic Web Company, providing taxonomy and ontology modeling services for the clients of PoolParty Semantic Suite software.

Other past employment includes:

  • Senior Vocabulary Editor at Cengage Learning, developing discipline taxonomies and metadata for higher education educational products, and at Cengage’s Gale division, managing and updating the subject thesaurus and other controlled vocabularies for indexing content for library research databases.
  • Senior Taxonomy Analyst at the consulting company Project Performance Corporation, providing custom taxonomy design and development services to clients in varied industries.
  • Taxonomy Manager at First Wind Energy, creating taxonomies for document management and search in SharePoint.
  • Information Taxonomist at the software developer Viziant Corporation, developing taxonomies integrated into a search tool.

Heather independently teaches an online course in taxonomy creation and previously taught it through the Continuing Education Program of Simmons University — School of Library and Information Science. She has given numerous conference workshops and presentations and published many articles on taxonomies, indexing, and other information management topics and has written two books: The Accidental Taxonomist, published by Information Today, Inc. in 2010 and the second edition in 2016, and Indexing Specialties: Web Sites, published jointly by the American Society for Indexing and Information Today, Inc. in 2007. Heather also has a background in writing and editing, including reference book essays, abstracts, technical documentation, and magazine and newspaper articles.

Heather is skilled at using taxonomy management software PoolParty, Synaptica, and Smartlogic Semaphore. She lives in Carlisle, Massachusetts.


  • Princeton University, M.A., Near Eastern Studies, 1987–1990
  • The American University in Cairo, Center for Arabic Study Abroad, 1988–1989
  • Cornell University, B.A., Government (comparative politics and international relations), 1983–1987




Articles by Others






  • Knowledge Graph Conference, May 3–6, 2021 — Four days of virtual knowledge tech perspectives covering tools, techniques, case studies, and more from industry experts.
  1. Speaker Profile
  2. Tutorial — Foundation for a Knowledge Graph: Taxonomy Design Best Practices

Enterprise Search Summit

Taxonomy Boot Camp

  1. Taxonomy Fundamentals Workshop1015_Hlava.pptx
  2. Pecha Kucha: Taxonomies & Ontologies1515_Hedden.pdf

Taxonomy Boot Camp London

  • 2019
  1. W1: Taxonomy and metadata design — getting to grips with the basics
  2. A101: Managing taxonomies for successSelecting software for taxonomy, thesaurus and ontology management
  3. B204: Taxonomy interoperability, linked data and VocBenchA brief introduction to knowledge graphs
  • 2018
  1. W1: Taxonomy Fundamentals
  2. A204: Taxonomy standards and architectureA Brief Introduction to SKOS
  3. B201: State-of-the-art taxonomies for information retrievalTaxonomies in Support of Search
  4. B103: Taxonomies and SharePoint
  • 2017
  1. W1: Taxonomy fundamentals (full day)
  2. A101: Doing taxonomy right: advice from two expertsA Tale of Two Worlds: Designing Controlled Vocabularies to Meet Specific Business Needs
  • 2016
  1. Workshop: Taxonomy Fundamentals
  2. A103: The nuts and bolts of taxonomiesSynonyms, Alternative Labels, and Non-preferred Terms




Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/