Referencing strings (the rs element)

table of contents printer bookseller name phrase-level encoding
mcr rs key

Use of the rs element

The idea of the referencing or referring string in TEI represents a move away from the specificity of names (personal names, place names, organizational names) and into the more general domain of reference. As a strategy for encoding all references to people, places, and so forth in the document, the TEI rs element is extremely low-function: it allows one to say very little about the reference in question. And if one does want to say something more specific, there are good arguments for using a more specific element instead. Just as name type="person" may be more usefully expressed as persName, so rs type="name" can be expressed as name, allowing one the option of further categorizing personal, place, organizational, and other types of names.

However, once the elements in which one has a detailed interest have been encoded, there may still remain a residuum of textual phenomena which also deserve a more general encoding: perhaps of interest because they are renditionally distinct, or perhaps because they serve some function in the text, or because one wishes to link them to glossary entries. The rs element can be a useful way of handling these features.

Some examples of places where rs may be useful (assuming that you encode names with name or with more specific name elements like persName, placeName, etc.):

For many of these uses, it will not be necessary to provide any sort of typology for rs using the type attribute. However, if you do so, you should include the permitted values for type in your DTD, or else constrain your encoding very carefully so that you do not get accidental variances in values.