TEI (Guidelines)

The Text Encoding Initiatives (TEI) Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange had been developed since 1987 as an international cooperative project under the joint sponsorship of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, the Association for Computational Linguistics, and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing. By the late 1990s, it was felt that a more stable organizational structure was needed for the further development and long-term management of the Guidelines, which by that time had gained wide recognition as the foremost standard for the encoding of scholarly relevant textual resources in virtually every field of the Humanities. Institutions with a strong investment in TEI were taking the necessary legal steps and formed the TEI Consortium, which formally started its work in 2001 with the first Members Meeting in Pisa (Wittern et al. 2009, 281).

The first public proposal for the TEI Guidelines was published in 1990 as P1 (for Proposal 1). The further development of the TEI Guidelines was done in four Working Committees and 17 Working Groups, one of which was the working group on Text Criticism (TR2) chaired by Peter Robinson, and another one on Manuscripts and Codicology (TR9) chaired by Claus Huitfeldt. The TEI community took these guidelines through several rounds of testing, debates, and revisions, to the monumental P3 Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange, which was first published in 1994 as a 1292 page documentation of the definitive guidelines (Vanhoutte 2004, 10-11).

The TEI guidelines apply just as well to creating new texts as to transcribing old ones, but other approaches may be a better choice for some highly-structured collections of information: for example, the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) DTD is designed for archival finding aids, of the sort that an edition might create in the course of its work, and a finding aid in this form would be more useful to a library than a TEI-encoded description. Similarly, the MASTER DTD is specifically adapted for encoding descriptions of manuscripts; it is also based on the TEI DTD, and indeed is now under consideration for incorporation into a future version of the TEI guidelines. A project that involves the creation of new software might choose to use the DocBook DTD for that software’s documentation, as it is a DTD designed for that purpose and there are existing tools for using such information in ways that users of software need (Walsh and Muellner). In cases of this sort, there’s good reason to adopt a practice that was developed for a specific kind of writing or scholarship and that produces encoded information that is as well-documented and robust as TEI data; following such standard practices is likely to increase the utility of these specialized kinds of information (Lavagnino 2006, 334-335).

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