Notes: encoding the note itself

note anchor endnotes footnote
note bibl att rend ref label

Encoding the text of a note, including details of the WWP’s changes to the content model of note, and discussion of the various things that appear in notes

This entry describes the encoding of the contents of a note (whether footnote, marginal note, endnote, or inline note).

If the note is linked to the text with a mark of any sort (asterisk, number, letter), the mark as it appears in the note itself is encoded using the pre keyword on the rend attribute. This approach is preferable to treating the anchor mark as part of the note’s content (i.e. as the first character within the note) because it gives you control over the appearance of the anchor mark. You can display the original mark if that is desirable (to give users a more detailed sense of the appearance of the source text) but in many cases it may be more useful to generate the anchor mark and use a standard system of numbers or a standard icon. Some anchor marks in the original text may be difficult to duplicate in modern fonts, and some may be dependent on the source text’s pagination (for instance, having the anchor numbering restart from 1 on each page), in which case retaining the original numbering may simply be perplexing to users in the digital context. Using the rend attribute allows maximum flexibility in display.

The TEI’s content model for note in P4 is fairly simple, consisting of character data, phrase-level elements (such as names, citations, dates, and so forth) or paragraphs and similar elements (such as quotations and lists). These elements may be mixed together as appropriate. For some projects, however, this model may not be sufficient to represent more complex notes, which may have a more substantial internal structure. The content model for note in the WWP DTD customization that accompanies this guide allows for this more complex structure. A detailed discussion of how to encode notes using the WWP DTD is included at the end of this entry.

A few general points about encoding notes:

  1. Notes which consist solely of a bibliographic citation should contain a bibl (or, rarely, a more fully structured bibliographic format such as biblStruct if you want to capture very detailed bibliographic information).
  2. Notes which provide a quotation (for instance, giving a fuller version of a brief quotation in the text) and a bibliographic citation should contain a cit to group together the quote and the bibl.
  3. References to the text (such as verse, line, or page numbers) that serve as an indicator of the passage being annotated are encoded using ref. The ref does not need to point explicitly to the main text; the target on note is sufficient for this.
  4. Note the difference between ref and label. ref is for references to other places within the same text (in this case, most often to the location of the noted phrase). label is used for numbers or words which identify the note itself (similar to the numbers in a numbered list). Note the difference between this kind of label (which is typical in endnotes that are linked to the text through a quotation or line number rather than by an anchor mark) and the anchor mark which prefaces a typical footnote. The anchor mark should be encoded with the rend attribute on note, but the labels on endnotes may be more sensibly encoded as if the notes were a numbered list, following your general practice for list numbering elsewhere in the text. If you use the n attribute on item, then using n on note is also appropriate. If you use label within item, then label within note is appropriate.

In the WWP DTD, the following is a general description of what may go inside note:

  1. Note top elements which can only occur at the beginning of the note element: label, ref, head, opener. One or more of these may appear, in any order.
  2. Note component (or notecomp) elements which can occur alone, or after the opening elements (if any): anchor, bibl, biblFull, biblStruct, castList, cit, l, lg, list, listBibl, note, p, q, quote, seg, sp, stage. These are essentially the chunks of which the body of the note is made up. Note that character data by itself is not permitted directly inside note, but must always be wrapped inside some element (typically one from this set).
  3. Note bottom (or notebot) elements which can occur only after one or more of the notecomp elements: respLine, closer, trailer. The elements are those containing the concluding gestures.
  4. The top of the note (consisting of any notetop elements) must be finished before any element from the notecomp group is begun. Similarly, the body of the note (consisting of elements from the notecomp group) must be finished before any element from the notebot group is used. In this respect, the structure of notes is similar to the structure of the TEI div element, in having a top, middle, and bottom portion.
  5. A note can also consist solely of a respLine element, which is useful in cases where the note is simply providing an authorial citation.
  6. Character data is not allowed directly within note; hence at the very least (if there is no other appropriate element) all notes must contain a p, or some other element from the note component group.


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&mdash;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>