Summary of the project editorial and transcription policy

Overview of the edition

This aim of this edition is to provide a fully browseable, searchable and annotated online hypertext archive of the complete correspondence of William Herle. The current edition - Edition 2, released March 2006 - includes 302 letters in English to and from Herle. The letter transcripts have been stored as XML files in order that they fulfil the following functions: to be suitable for online publication, searching, hypertext linking, customisation and generation of multiple versions; to be in a format that allows the possibility for future exchange; and to be suitable for long-term preservation and deposit with the AHDS. The transcripts are accompanied by a series of indexes and by editorial apparatus that introduces, illustrates and enhances the ability to navigate the corpus. The indexes were automatically generated as XML queries from a database containing a complete catalogue of the letters. The XHTML and PDF transcripts were generated from the original XML files in a single off-line batch transformation using XSLT and XSL-FO. The search facility is a custom-written utility developed at CELL that enables free-text searching of the online XHTML content. Images of the documents are stored as high-resolution TIFF files, optimised as JPEGs for online viewing. All editorial documentation has been authored by the project team.

Encoding of the transcripts

Each Herle letter has been transcribed and encoded as an individual XML file. A customised DTD written for the project ensures an exact match between the XML and the data to be encoded. At the completion of the project, if required by the AHDS, a transformation will be performed to convert the XML into a format compatible with the TEI guidelines. The XML mark-up defines the structure of the letter transcript, of which the main elements are: the editorial commentary; the address leaf, within which are the superscription, sign manual, endorsement(s), plus later notes and additions; and the letter transcript itself, within which are the postscript, subscription, plus later notes and additions. Various other features of the document have also been marked up, as described below in the 'Transcription Policy'.

Editorial commentary

At the head of each letter is an editorial commentary. This contains a record of any unusual features of the letter's appearance or copying, as well as a statement of who the letter is to and from.

Transcription policy


The aim has been to produce transcripts that are clean, accurate, accessible and faithful; they must also conform to a consistent policy and be suitable for online searching. 'Clean' requires that the transcripts should not be overly cluttered with editorial commentary that intervenes in the text. 'Accurate' requires the transcripts to have been checked a minimum of four times by at least two different project members who have examined the XML as well as its outputs. 'Accessible' refers to the necessity that the online outputs conform with current accessibility standards as defined by the W3C. 'Faithful' means that the transcripts should reflect and record the content of the original document including any meaningful features of its visual or material make-up that are potentially significant for its interpretation. In order to achieve all of these, the following guidelines have been followed.

Spelling and punctuation

Transcriptions follow the original spelling, word spacing and punctuation of the letters, apart from u/v, i/j and Ff/ff which have been modernised (although in Latin phrases, 'i' has been retained rather than amended to 'j'). The standard Roman alphabet has been used and alternative letter forms (for example, the difference between single- or double-compartment 'a') have not been recorded. Special symbols and additional characters (ampersand, apostrophe, asterisk, caret, the symbol denoting the monetary unit 'crowns', dagger, emdash, endash and quotation marks) are encoded using the appropriate character entity codes according to Unicode standards. Transcripts are in UTF-8.


Standard contractions used by Herle have been silently expanded, for example, dl/d > deliver/d, lre/s > lettre/s, Mat[ie, tye, ty, ties, tyes, ts] > Majestie, Rx/d > Receive/d, Sr > Sir, ye > the, yor > your, etc. These are a very regular feature of the letters and their expansion fulfills our aim that the transcripts be 'clean', 'accessible', readable texts without loss of information valuable to interpretation. This aspect of regularisation also improves the searchability of the letters. Abbreviations that have been retained include: B (Bishop), C (Count), D (Duke), E (Earl), H (Honorable), K (King), L, LL, Lp, Lps (Lord(s), Lordship(s)) P (Prince), Q (Queen), R (Right), Sp (Spain). Wherever possible names have been expanded where they are contracted, for example, Tho: (Thomas), Ch. (Charles), Xpofer (Christopher). Where a correspondent refers to 'Wm' this has been expanded to 'William'. However, where Herle signs himself as 'Wm' the contraction has been retained. Herle abbreviates in a consistent manner to all correspondents, regardless of status. There are no examples where he does not use abbreviations, or abbreviates substantially more or less, for whatever reason - haste, status or space. Unique or unusual contractions are not expanded and are noted in the editorial commentary.

Changes of script and hand

XML mark-up records changes of script. Changes of hand are not recorded within the transcript but are noted in the editorial commentary at the head of each letter.

Emphasis, underlining or deletions

XML mark-up is used to record any sections of text which have been emphasised visually in some way by the scribe, or underlined, or deleted. In the output XHTML transcripts, deletions are in square brackets with the word deleted, where as in the PDF transcripts they are indicated using strikethrough. In both the XHML and the PDF, emphasised text is indicated with italics and underlined text with underlining.

Spatial layout

XML mark-up records the following features of the spatial layout of letters: the use of paragraphs; line breaks; lists; the start of a new folio. Herle's letters uniformly begin at the top-left of the folio page, leaving a gap of about an inch. Where a letter diverges from this a note has been given in the editorial commentary at the head of the letter. No attempt has been made to present a literal replication of these kinds of spatial anomalies.


Marginalia is transcribed in full at the point in the text to which it refers. XML mark-up identifies this as marginalia and records the author and the position on the page where it appears.

For further details

Download the instructions for transcription and encoding [PDF] used during the project.

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