TEI by Example Module 7: Critical Editing Ron Van den Branden Edward Vanhoutte Melissa Terras Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC) Centre for Data, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh, UK Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH), University College London, UK Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH), King’s College London, UK Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature Koningstraat 18 9000 Gent Belgium
ctb@kantl.be
Edward Vanhoutte Melissa Terras
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium Gent
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature Koningstraat 18 9000 Gent Belgium

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9 July 2010
TEI By Example. Edward Vanhoutte editor Ron Van den Branden editor Melissa Terras editor

Digitally born

TEI By Example offers a series of freely available online tutorials walking individuals through the different stages in marking up a document in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). Besides a general introduction to text encoding, step-by-step tutorial modules provide example-based introductions to eight different aspects of electronic text markup for the humanities. Each tutorial module is accompanied with a dedicated examples section, illustrating actual TEI encoding practise with real-life examples. The theory of the tutorial modules can be tested in interactive tests and exercises.

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Describing Text Witnesses

When creating, generating or digitising a critical edition, it is of crucial importance to document the text witnesses whose transcriptions it contains. This can be done in a listWit (list of witnesses) element, which can be put either in the sourceDesc section of the TEI header (when creating or generating a critical edition), or somewhere in the text, usually in the front section (when digitising an existing critical edition). The listWit element should describe each text witness in its own witness element. This element can contain a prose description of the witness in plain text, possibly enriched with a specialised element for bibliographic description (bibl, biblStruct, or biblFull). The witness definitions should provide a unique identification code in the xml:id attribute. This code is used as a sigil in the critical edition, in order to connect the textual variants with the respective witnesses in which they occur (see ). For example, the witness list for our critical edition of the TEI Guidelines could look as follows:

Sperberg-McQueen, M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P2 Guidelines for the Encoding and Interchange of Machine Readable Texts Draft P2 (published serially 1992-1993); Draft Version 2 of April 1993: 19 chapters. Available from (accessed October 2008). Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. TEI P3. Revised reprint. Text Encoding Initiative: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Bergen, 1999 Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P4: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. XML-compatible edition. Text Encoding Initiative Consortium: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Bergen, 2002 Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Revised and re-edited. Text Encoding Initiative Consortium: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Nancy, 2005 A list of witness descriptions for four versions of the TEI Guidelines

Such bibliographic descriptions of course are easier for printed works than for manuscripts; for the latter type of witnesses, some kind of description inside listWit is advised, preferably with a pointer (using ptr or ref) to a full description of the manuscript inside msDescription. For a full discussion of the msDescription element, see section 10.2 The Manuscript Description Element of the TEI Guidelines, and section 12.1.4.3 The Witness List for examples of describing manuscript witnesses in a digital edition.

In a critical edition, it may make sense to discern groups of witnesses that have many text variants in common in comparison to other witnesses and can often be conveniently summarised in one sigil. In the witness list, witnesses can be grouped by wrapping their witness descriptions in nesting listWit structures. The common sigil then can be provided as the value for an xml:id attribute of the group’s listWit element. The nested witness groups can be labelled with a head element. For example, in our sample text witnesses it may make sense to discern those versions of the TEI Guidelines dealing with SGML, and those dealing with XML. This could look as follows:

TEI Guidelines covering SGML Sperberg-McQueen, M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P2 Guidelines for the Encoding and Interchange of Machine Readable Texts Draft P2 (published serially 1992-1993); Draft Version 2 of April 1993: 19 chapters. Available from (accessed October 2008). Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. TEI P3. Revised reprint. Text Encoding Initiative: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Bergen, 1999 TEI Guidelines covering XML Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P4: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. XML-compatible edition. Text Encoding Initiative Consortium: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Bergen, 2002 Sperberg-McQueen, C.M.; Burnard, L. (eds.). TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Revised and re-edited. Text Encoding Initiative Consortium: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Nancy, 2005 Grouping descriptions of related text witnesses in listWit.
The different text witnesses included in a critical edition should be documented in a listWit element. Such a list may occur in the sourceDesc section of the TEI header (for digital editions created or generated from scratch), or in the text of the edition, usually in the front section (for digital editions digitised from an existing edition). Each text witness should be described in a witness element, containing either a prose description as plain text, possibly enriched with specific TEI elements for bibliographic description (bibl, biblStruct, biblFull). An xml:id attribute must be provided for each witness, which is used as the sigil for this witness in the edition. Witness groups can be distinguished in separate nested listWit elements.
Vanhoutte, Edward, and Ron Van den Branden. 2009. Describing, Transcribing, Encoding, and Editing Modern Correspondence Material: a Textbase Approach. Literary and Linguistic Computing 24 (1): 77–98. 10.1093/llc/fqn035.