The Text Encoding Initiative is an international committee supported by a wide range of scholarly societies, which is developing guidelines for the encoding of texts for a range of scholarly and commercial purposes. The TEI is a joint European/American project involving scholars all over the world. While not yet near completion, it has already committed to the use of SGML as a basic text description language. TEI guidelines are expected to include standard tags for units commonly of interest, and explicit Document Type Definitions for various kinds of standard documents, as well as definitions of how to extend the guidelines when new content objects need labels (DeRose et al. 1990, 11).

Het TEI werd in 1987 gesticht met de specifieke opdracht om een standaardformaat te ontwikkelen voor de uitwisseling van machine-readable teksten en om specifieke aanbevelingen te doen voor de aanmaak en markup van elektronische teksten. Het werk van verschillende werkgroepen bestaan de uit experten uit bepaalde domeinen resulteerde in 1990 in de eerste versie van de Guidelines (PI voor “proposal one”): 280 A4-bladzijden (Vanhoutte 1998, 121-122).

Shortly after the SGML standard was published, a diverse group of 32 humanities computing scholars met at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York (11-12 November, 1987) and agreed on a set of methodological principles–the so called Poughkeepsie Principles–which formed the basis for the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). The TEI soon came to adopt SGML as its basis because it was believed that SGML offered a better foundation for research oriented text encoding than other schemes (Vanhoutte 2004, 10).

TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), now collectively defines a standard XML format for the scholarly representation of all kinds of texts in digital form. It also provides solutions for enriching the transcribed text with information on the material and structural features of the sources, as well as for instance on performative, genetic, revision-historical, linguistic (phonetic, orthographic, lexical, syntactic), editorial and comparative layers of the text. The document as text can then be presented with metadata and explanatory features, as well as links to manuscript images […], different manuscript variants or even audio and visual material for more recently recorded examples (Katajamäki et al. 2013, 12-13).

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is one of the longest-lived and most influential projects in the field now known as the Digital Humanities. Its purpose is to provide guidelines for the creation and management in digital form of every type of data created and used by researchers in the Humanities, such as source texts, manuscripts, archival documents, ancient inscriptions, and many others. As its name suggests, its primary focus is on text rather than sound or video, but it can usefully be applied to any form of digital data. Crucially, it was created and is maintained by the scholarly community for the use of that community (Burnard 2014, 7).

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