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Empty XML files are useful for creating metadata templates and for creating metadata documents describing resources that are not available online. For example, you might create an empty XML file and then use a metadata editor to add information describing a paper map, an atlas, or data that has been archived on tape.
To manually create an empty XML file:
<?xml version="1.0" ?>
Do not name the file "metadata.xml"; ArcCatalog will assume it contains metadata describing the folder in which it was saved. Also, do not use more than one file extension; with a name like "myFile.txt.xml" XML files will not appear in the Contents list because ArcCatalog assumes the file contains metadata describing an item that is already listed.