Titles of other texts

title citation biblical reference phrase-level encoding
bibl title

Encoding of titles in bibliographic entries and in running prose, using title, including criteria for identifying titles

The title of the text you are encoding is captured with docTitle on the title page, but the titles of other texts which may be referred to in passing, or cited in a bibliographical reference, are encoded with title. This encoding not only allows for the capture of whatever renditional distinction the title may carry, but also provides a means of tracing the intertextual universe within which the text is located. This would be especially useful in cases where you’re encoding a substantial collection of texts in which reference to other works is frequent: it would make it possible to see what readings the various authors or texts had in common, and to produce thereby a sense of the cultural canon in operation at the time.

Titles are usually easy enough to identify that it makes sense to encode them wherever they appear: in running prose, in notes, and in bibliographic references (for instance, following a quotation). If you do not plan any special analysis on titles, then title alone is sufficient. If you are dealing with more complex references, or wish to be able to distinguish different kinds of works (articles, books, journals, etc.), then the level attribute may be used. The TEI includes five possible values for level, as follows:

  1. a: analytic items such as articles, poems, anything which was published as part of a larger item
  2. m: monographic items published independently, such as books
  3. j: journals
  4. s: series
  5. u: unpublished materials

It is worth giving some thought to the kinds of encoding you wish to permit within titles: for instance, names, the titles of other works, dates, foreign-language words, and so forth. By default title may contain a wide variety of phrase-level encoding, including all of the features just named. If you encode these features elsewhere in the text, it is probably best to encode them within title as well. However, being enclosed within a title alters the significance of these things; for instance, the existence of a second title within a title does not imply that the author has read or is interested in the enclosed title. Similarly, the inclusion of a foreign-language word in a title does not imply that the author is familiar with the word’s meaning, and the word does not function linguistically as part of the main text. For this reason, you should think about how your user interface represents this information so as not to license faulty conclusions.