Concepts of Scholarly Text Encoding
Stanford University, 2007-03-16

Julia Flanders & Syd Bauman, Brown University

This seminar was the first in a series of NEH-funded seminars and workshops on scholarly text encoding. It was hosted by the Stanford Humanities Center. This page lists the resources that were presented and provides some additional links. More information is available at the web site for the seminar series as a whole.


Session 1 (9:30-10:45): What is Text Encoding?

Presentations and discussion on the fundamental concepts of text encoding and its role in scholarly research, addressing the following topics:

  • What is markup? what is its function? why is it important?
  • Basic concepts of XML
  • What is the role of standards and the TEI? why do we need markup languages?

Session 2 (11:00-12:30): The Role of the TEI

An overview of the TEI as an organization and as a text encoding standard through presentations and group discussion, addressing the following topics and issues:

  • The TEI's situation within the landscape of digital humanities scholarship: what are its intellectual affiliations and commitments?
  • How does the TEI function to support the creation of digital humanities texts? what is its role in defining how texts should be represented?
  • How is the TEI currently used, and how is it evolving?
  • What are the alternatives to the TEI? what are the advantages and risks of using a detailed encoding system like the TEI?

Session 3 (2:00-3:30): Encoding as Disciplinary Practice

Presentation and discussion of the encoding process focusing on the varieties of markup and how it represents the text, looking at samples from a variety of projects and addressing issues such as:

  • How does one decide which textual features are important?
  • How much detail is appropriate, useful, necessary? what are the strategic tradeoffs with a more detailed encoding?
  • What disciplinary assumptions does the encoding reflect? Is it possible to have a discipline-free representation of the text? if so, what would it look like?
  • How will scholarly communication be affected by these technologies? what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • How is scholarly research being changed by the use of digital resources? How do we see it developing in the future?
  • What are the next steps? How can participants learn more?

Session 4 (4:00-5:30): Innovative Research with TEI Documents

Presentation and discussion of some compelling models of TEI publication, examining how new interface tools are opening up innovative ways of working with digital texts, and addressing the following questions:

  • What new interface features seem most useful to humanities scholars?
  • What specialized features are needed by scholars from particular disciplines?
  • Do these new features change scholarship or simply facilitate it?
  • What kinds of encoded information are necessary to support the kinds of functions and interpretive work envisioned by these projects?
  • How does a knowledge of text encoding affect how we use such resources?


  1. What is Markup, TEI Source, HTML
  2. What is XML, TEI Source, HTML
  3. What is the TEI, TEI Source, HTML
  4. Publication, TEI Source, HTML

The following additional materials were not actually presented at the seminar, but may be useful as context:

Projects shown during the seminar

Links to resources and documentation

Colophon (for slides)

The slides are written in a customized TEI P5 markup language that is still under development. Feel free to read (and copy, modify, etc.) the ODD customization file; feel free to read the documentation for this language or to look at and use the resulting schema, but they should not be modified directly. (Change the ODD file and submit it to Roma.)

Instructor contact information

Send mail to Julia or Syd.