The Women Writers Project’s internal documentation has been written over a period of ten years, starting when the TEI first published P3 (the first published version of the TEI Guidelines) in 1994. At first it was intended only to document the differences between the WWP’s encoding and what was recommended in the Guidelines, but it has come to include instructions which clarify or add to the information in the TEI, as well as information on identifying particular textual features or making difficult encoding decisions. It is not a substitute for the TEI Guidelines themselves, and is intended to be read in tandem with them. It is now published in a revised and updated form, in the hopes that it will be of public use, through the generous support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

The corpus for which this encoding is designed is a collection of early modern printed books in English. They date from roughly 1450 to 1850, and are published in Great Britain and North America. The genres covered include verse, drama, fiction, and non-fiction of all sorts, including scientific, religious, historical, autobiographical, ethnographic, and political documents. Some genres are not covered, including dictionaries, almanacs and other reference works, and documents whose emphasis is on illustrations.

The encoding practice documented here differs from the predominant practice in several ways. It is typically more detailed: we capture more information about the text than many other projects, including detailed renditional and structural information as well as content features such as names, foreign-language words, special terminology, and the like. Our practice is also more apt to capture typological and generic distinctions, for instance, in recording verse structures, stage directions, and types of subdivision. Finally, we are fairly conservative in our transcription of the text, and rely on detailed encoding of illegibility, uncertainty, and typographical errors in the original to maintain distinctions between what was printed on the page and what we can imagine was intended by the author or printer. Because our intended audience is both scholarly and broadly interdiscipinary, our encoding is designed to support significant and wide-ranging analysis, which would not be possible using a simpler encoding. For all of these reasons, our encoding may be unnecessarily dense for many projects. However, even projects which do not intend to follow our practice may find it useful to read the rationale behind our decisions. Our guidelines on how to recognize certain features, or distinguish between similar phenomena, may also be helpful regardless of what encoding is to be applied.

Comments on these materials are very welcome and may be sent to wwp [at] neu {dot} edu.

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