Encoding Guide for Early Printed Books

About this Guide

This Guide provides an overview of text encoding for projects dealing with early printed books. It is aimed at a non-technical audience seeking a strong grounding in text encoding and related concepts. Its focus is on the encoding guidelines published by the Text Encoding Initiative , but some of the information and reflections included here have a broader bearing on issues of project management and information design.

The Guide is based on the research and practical experience of the Women Writers Project. It is thus focused on the areas where our knowledge is greatest: the encoding of printed books in the Anglo-American tradition. Where possible, we include pointers to other projects with relevant expertise and accessible documentation. We welcome comments and suggestions for additional topics the Guide should cover, problematic cases which are not addressed or which require a different approach, and useful comparanda of all sorts. The Guide seeks to be advisory rather than authoritative: it documents rationales and practices that may be useful above all in helping others evolve their own. In particular, this Guide does not speak for the TEI. Its authors have been closely involved with the TEI for many years, but in writing this guide we speak not as TEI representives but as TEI practitioners and supporters. For information about the TEI itself, the most authoritative source is the Text Encoding Initiative web site, and in particular the TEI Guidelines themselves.

One challenge in writing this Guide and keeping it current is the steady evolution of the TEI itself, and of text encoding practice more generally. The stable version of the TEI Guidelines during the initial preparation of the Guide was P4, and the discussion and examples were initially based on a P4 encoding. However, with P5 now officially released, there is a clear need to address the areas in which its approach is different. The Guide is being updated as necessary to reflect these differences. In many areas, the two versions of the Guidelines are so similar that the differences do not affect this Guide.

The table of contents at left gives a sense of the overall scope of the document. The introduction provides a context for thinking about text encoding and for using this Guide. The section on Strategy and Workflow addresses some project management issues that have particular importance for text encoding work. In High-level Issues we address some topics with broad relevance across a range of text encoding issues. These may be particularly useful for readers unfamiliar with text encoding, as a way of getting acquainted with the underlying issues and strategic problems. In the section on Encoding we address the specifics of encoding early printed books in detail. The final section on Technical Advice and Magic provides some sample files, templates, schemas, and other technically oriented materials that you can take and adapt for your own use.