Notes, endnotes, and footnotes: overview

note footnote endnotes
target id corresp note add hyperDiv

General overview of encoding notes, including footnotes, endnotes, marginal notes, and inline notes, and giving a summary of how notes are linked to the main text

The TEI note element is used to encode all kinds of notes and note-like text components, including endnotes, footnotes, marginal notes, marginal symbols such as maniculae (little pointing hands), and callouts. Comments that intervene in the text (for instance, a bracketed insertion indicating that the lines following are by another author) may also be encoded as note, since they are conceptually (though not structurally) hypertextual.

For manuscript annotations (that is, handwritten additions to the text) we recommend using add, but if the content of the annotations is note-like and constitutes a commentary on the text rather than being a revision or an unrelated marginal doodle, then it may additionally be encoded as note within add.

In the content model provided in P4, a note is a fairly simple structure of paragraphs and paragraph-like features. For texts in the early modern period, this model is sometimes inadequate, since notes often have a more elaborate internal structure. To accommodate this structure, the WWP has developed an alternate content model for note which is included in the DTD that accompanies this Guide. In P5, the TEI has adopted a more complex model as well. For details, see the entry on encoding the contents of the note.

Notes may be encoded where they are anchored in the flow of the text, and in some ways this is the simplest approach. However, it has a few disadvantages. First, it introduces an appearance of false proximity in the relationship between the note and the text which may affect the behavior of features like searching. The words of the note are represented as more proximate to the anchor point than the words immediately following that anchor point. A properly designed search mechanism can compensate for this fact, but some attention must be paid in order to get the right results. Secondly, this simple approach does not represent the hypertextual connection between the note and the anchor point explicitly through the encoding, but instead makes it implicit in the placement of the note element, which is a less informative and less powerful mechanism.

The alternative to this approach is to gather the notes into a separate space within the text—one that is hypertextually related to it, rather than being part of its main flow. The WWP has developed an element for this purpose which we call the hyperDiv, which is the first child of the text element, before the front. This element is included in the DTD that accompanies this Guide. In a more conventional TEI encoding, the same results could be achieved by creating a div type="hyperDiv" that would be placed either as the first element in front or the last element in back. For more information see the entry on hyperDiv. The hyperdiv is intended for notes that are located in a hypertextual relation to the text; endnotes and inline notes should not be placed in the hyperdiv, since they are located within the main text flow and (in the case of endnotes) may even have a specific section of that flow devoted to them.

Most notes are anchored to a specific point in the text which is marked in some way, usually with a small number or other textual marker. The note element carries an anchored attribute (with values yes or no) that should be used to indicate whether there is an explicit anchor in the text; this can be useful in determining whether the scope of the note’s reference is precisely known. The default value can be set to yes if most notes are anchored.

The connection between the note and the anchor point in the text is represented as a link, using the target attribute of the note element, which points to the id attribute of an anchor element at the anchor point. For greater representational power, a corresponding link should also be made pointing from the anchor to the note. These links can be processed in various ways: to produce a navigable hypertext link in the text itself, to support proximity searches (so that the content of the note is understood as sprouting out from the text at the point of the anchor), and to enable various kinds of analysis, such as research on citation and annotation practices. For more detailed information see the entry on encoding the links between the note and the text.

While many notes are anchored at a simple point in the text (marked by the anchor mark), notes often annotate a particular word, phrase, or other textual feature. In these cases, it is desirable to represent the note’s scope of reference by encoding the anchoring word or phrase and linking the note to it. This is useful for practical purposes (since it provides a hook in the encoding that can be used to create a clickable link), but is also useful for analysis, since it makes explicit the unit of information that serves as the occasion for the note. Knowing which texts and authors tend to annotate names, or quotations, or other textual features, is potentially valuable in studying citation patterns and discursive habits. If the note points to a word or phrase that already carries some encoding (for instance, a persName or a quote), the note’s target value will point to the id attribute of the element which surrounds the text segment being noted. In cases where the note simply points to an arbitrary segment and no other encoding is appropriate, the seg element can be used to mark the segment being noted. Determining the exact scope of the annotated phrase may be difficult in some cases. In some texts, the note repeats the target phrase. In other cases, the scope may be indicated by the content of the note (for instance, if it provides a comment on a concept mentioned in the text). If the scope of the target text cannot be determined, it may be better simply to use the empty anchor element to mark the point at which the note is anchored.

Some notes, notably marginal notes, do not have any explicit anchor mark in the text, but refer instead by proximity to a region of text. In some cases it may be clear from context what the note is pointing to (for instance, a biblical quotation for which the note provides a chapter and verse reference, or a name for which the note provides a gloss). In these cases, the note can be linked to the text using the mechanisms described above. In cases where the marginal note provides a general comment on a region of text and no specific anchor point can be identified, the marginal note may be anchored using some convention that you apply consistently throughout the text. We recommend placing the anchor element at the start of the line that is aligned with the top of the note, on the theory that the note’s position indicates its scope of reference. However, this practice may be varied as appropriate (particularly if there are numerous marginal notes in a tight space, so that position may be constrained by other factors).

In order to support links in both directions (from the note to the anchor point, and vice versa), we recommend encoding explicit bi-directional links using the target attribute on note and the corresp attribute on the anchoring element. These point to the id attribute in the corresponding element, as shown in the examples. For more information see the entry on linking the note to the text.

Some special topics concerning the encoding of notes are covered in separate entries in this guide:


Some examples of notes illustrating the different kinds of structures and how to encode them. For clarity’s sake, id, target, anchored, and rend have been omitted.

Example 1.

An example of a reasonably verbose note with all the usual parts:

<note><ref>Verse 1, line 3. <quote>Fairest Autumn fades</quote></ref> 
<p>This line echoes the delightful, though too little known words of our national poet: 
<quote><lg type="couplet">
<l>Though fairest autumn fades, let none deny</l> 
<l>That spring in all its bliss is ever nigh.</l> </lg></quote> 
<bibl>Gutworth, Scenes of Country Life, ll. 578&ndash;579.</bibl>
However, our present author has given the sentiment greater point.</p> 
<respline>The Editor</respline></note>

Example 2.

A very simple example illustrating the need for a p directly inside note, even if the p is very short:

<note><p>A duck.</p></note>

Example 3.

Another example of a simple note, this time with only a bibliographic reference:

<note><bibl>Pope, The Rape of the Lock.</bibl></note>

Example 4.

Another type of simple note, with just a respLine:


Example 5.

In the following example, the first quotation is the one repeating the noted phrase from the text, and is contained within the ref element; the other quotations are from other sources which are being used to explain the noted phrase. Note that the p element does not start till after the initial ref element. (This is from Anne Francis, Song of Solomon, p. 67.)

<note><ref>Ver. 15. <quote>As pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.</quote></ref> 
<p rend="break(no)"><quote part="I">Doubtless</quote> (says Mr. Harmer) <quote part="F">his legs being like pillars of marble, refers to the breeches [or drawers] of fine linen he wore; such garments being ordered to be worn by the priests of God, whose vestments were appointed for glory and beauty.</quote> <bibl>Exod. xxxiii.2, 42.</bibl>
<bibl>See Outl. p. 117.</bibl> Sandys says of the Turks, that <quote>they wear next the skin a smock of calico...</quote> <bibl>Lib. i. p. 49.</bibl></p></note>