Handwriting: additions and deletions

addition deletion handwriting
add addSpan del hand resp

Even projects dealing exclusively with printed texts sometimes encounter handwritten annotations or revisions. In representing these features there are several issues to consider:

The TEI provides a simple way of encoding annotations, with additional provisions for more complex information if necessary. Handwritten additions to the text are encoded using the add element. This element can go in a wide variety of places (within paragraphs and paragraph-like things, and also within phrase-level elements like name). It is not permitted directly within elements like div or titlePage, which may pose problems if your document contains annotations which are not insertions into the text stream but are simply written on the paper of the document—perhaps on a blank verso, or in an empty space on the title page. In these cases, it may be necessary to modify the TEI DTD to allow add in a wider range of places. The DTD customizations that accompany this guide include this modification.

Some annotations constitute a deletion, and these are represented using the TEI del element, which surrounds the words being deleted. If any of the deletion is unclear or illegible, the unclear and gap elements should be used.

To indicate the annotation’s author, and to describe any important characteristics of the handwriting (the ink, writing style, etc.), use the hand attribute on add. This attribute simply points to a hand element in the TEI header, which documents the details of the handwriting; see Handwriting: the hand attribute for more information.

To indicate the position of the annotation on the page, the TEI provides a place attribute on add. If your encoding also represents complex renditional information using the rend attribute, you may find it simpler to use the place() keyword within the rend attribute; see Rendition ladders: common keywords and values and Renditional keywords: place.

If the added material contains textual features that you would ordinarily encode (such as names, dates, bibliographic references, etc.), you can nest the necessary elements within add. See Example 2.

If the added material contains graphical content, such as a drawing or a non-textual doodle, you will need to think about how precisely to represent it. Drawings can be encoded using the figure element, nested inside add; within figure, you can include a link to an image of the drawing, and also a description of it (using figDesc). Some doodles may be representable using Unicode characters: for instance, arrows, geometrical shapes, copyediting marks, and a wide range of other non-alphabetic characters.

If an addition or a deletion is very long, or overlaps the boundary of a textual structure that is represented in your encoding (for instance, paragraphs, sections, quotations, or any other encoded feature), then it may not be possible to use add and del, since they are intended only for additions and revisions that are brief and structurally simple. The TEI provides two other elements specifically to capture long or complex spans of added and deleted material: addSpan and delSpan.

addSpan is used to mark the beginning of a long addition that cannot be encoded with add. The endpoint of the addition is marked using an anchor element. The anchor element carries an id attribute, and the addSpan element points to the anchor using the to attribute. See Example 3.

The delSpan element works in the same way; it carries a to attribute which points to the id of an anchor element that marks the endpoint of the deleted material.

With all of these elements, if you wish to record the identity of the editor who takes responsibility for the identification of the handwriting, you can do so using the resp attribute.

Finally, the TEI provides a cert attribute on all of these elements, which can be used to indicate the level of certainty with which the handwriting is being identified in this particular instance. For most projects, this will be an unnecessary level of detail, but in cases where there are multiple hands in the document and their identification is central to the project’s work, this may be a useful piece of information to record.


Example 1.

<handlist><hand id="unknown.zzx">
<p>                <hand id="mfidler.neu"></p>
<p>How lovely are the mountain woods! How <del hand="mfidler.neu">lovely</del><add hand="mfidler.neu" rend="place(supralinear)">lonely</add> their aspect! I shall never know greater <del hand="unknown.zzx">un<gap reason="deleted"/></del> than in their embrace.</p>

Example 2.

<p>Today we raced to the top of Mount Weatherby for a picnic with the Smiths <add place="supralinear" hand="mfidler.neu">and the <name>Duncans</name></add>, but when we reached the summit we found it fogbound and desolate.</p>