Encoding Guide for Early Printed Books


Rendition: Encoding the Document’s Appearance

In much of the digital world, the question of rendition is chiefly one of styling: of controlling the appearance of the document as it is displayed to a reader in some form of output such as an online document. The TEI Guidelines, however, were designed not as an output format, but rather as a way of representing source documents responsibly and powerfully. Furthermore, their overall emphasis is on the structure and content of the text—on its character as an intellectual utterance—and they make the representation of the document’s appearance dependent, for the most part, on the structural encoding of the text.

In this respect, then, a TEI-encoded document looks in two directions, by two different mechanisms. It looks backward, towards the source text and its particularities, and seeks to represent those (at whatever level of detail the encoder finds appropriate) using renditional encoding. And it also looks ahead towards future forms of output, by providing the basis for multiple forms of presentation. Those presentational formats will typically be created through stylesheets that rely (at whatever level of fidelity the designer finds appropriate) on the document’s structural and renditional markup to guide the appearance of the final result. Thus, for example, the source document might include quotations from Shakespeare that are set in italics. The TEI transcription would encode these using the quote element, with the rend attribute indicating that these quotations are italicized in the original:

<quote rend="italics">Be not afear’d, the isle is full of noises</quote>

When the encoded document is to be published electronically, the interface designer might choose to regularize the appearance of all quotations and present them uniformly within quotation marks, ignoring the original rendition. He or she might equally design a stylesheet that reads the value of the rend attribute and uses it in styling the output, so that each quotation is presented as it is in the source text.