Salutes and signatures

salute opener closer signed

Encoding of salutations and signatures in letters using salute and signed

A salute is a salutation or greeting, either preceding a textual unit such as a foreword, or included within the opening or closing of a letter. The TEI’s description of salute and signed (TEI Guidelines, section 7.2.2) makes salute and signed sound as if they are almost interchangeable; however, we recommend distinguishing more closely between them. The salute contains words addressed to (saluting) the reader or to the addressee of a letter, appearing either at the beginning or end of a div or a letter. The signed contains words naming the writer or writers, usually containing a persName. A single signed element may contain multiple names. Both should always be enclosed within an opener or closer element, together with any other opening elements such as dateline. See examples 1 and 2.

Phrases referring only to the letter-writer, particularly phrases that include the signature itself, should be encoded using signed rather than salute. Phrases that gesture toward the addressee should be encoded using salute. In cases where the two are intermingled, we recommend encoding the phrase using salute. See examples 2 and 3.

Note that although the person signing the letter is the author of the document, you should not use author instead of persName here, since author is meant to be used only in a bibliographic way. Often it is somewhat difficult to tell whether or not the prose preceeding the signed is a salute or not, so think carefully when you mark up openers and closers. Example 4 shows a case with no salute element. Example 5 shows a more complex case.


Example 1: A simple opener with place, date, and salutation

    <placeName>Hardscrabble Hall</placeName>, 
    <date>12 July 1814</date>
  <salute>To the most illustrious Lord Denby of Denby,</salute>

Example 2: A simple closer with a salutation and signature

  <salute>MADAM, Your Majesty’s most Loyal, most Humble, 
          and most Obedient Servant,</salute>
    <persName>Mary Chudleigh</persName>.

Example 3:

  <salute>I have the honor to remain, Sir,</salute>
  <signed>Your most humble and obedient servant,<persName>Mary

Example 4: A closer with no salute:

  <dateline>Written in the Inquisition-Prison 
    in the Isle of <placename>Malta</placename>.</dateline>
    <persName>Katharine Evans</persName>.
    <lb><persName>Sarah Chevers</persName>

Example 5: a more complex example from Familiar Letters by Katherine Philips, page 141.

<closer rend="slant(italic)">
  <salute rend="indent(1)"><rs rend="slant(upright)case(allcaps)">Madam</rs>,
    <lb>Your Ladiships most faithful Servant,
    <lb rend="indent(2)">and passionate Friend,
  <signed rend="slant(upright) align(right)">
    <persName rend="case(allcaps)">Orinda</persName>.
  <dateline rend="slant(italic)">
     <date value="1658-06-25" rend="slant(upright)">June <hi
     rend="slant(italic)">the</hi> 25th</date>.
     <placename> Priory of <hi rend="slant(upright)">Cardigan</hi></placename>.