Guidelines for the Submission of Critical Editions


This article describes how critical editions can be prepared in a conventional text editor, allowing the author to work in the editor he has grown familiar with. Using this method, the copy can be converted automatically to a format that is readable by our typesetting system. After conversion all features of critical editions (lineation, multiple footnote apparatus, etc.) can be applied.


The following four rules sum up the required treatment of notes:

  1. All notes to be contained in one of the footnote apparatus should be marked up as foot- or endnotes or both. [1]
  2. All notes should have automatically numbered references.
  3. The text of each footnote should be preceded by a letter (A, B, C, etc.) assigning the note to an apparatus, followed by a square bracket. For example, an author may refer to the critical apparatus with A, to the explicative apparatus with B and to the apparatus for parallel texts with C. [2]
  4. In case of critical notes, the reference letter is followed by the lemma (i.e. the phrase in the main text to which the note applies). The author is allowed to supply the complete lemma, or suffice with the first and last word(s), separated by an ellipsis (...).


These rules will be elucidated by the following example, taken from an existing critical edition. The first figure shows the intended result and features two apparatus, the first containing critical notes, the second containing commentary. [3]

The second figure shows the way copy should be marked up in your text editor, in this case MS Word. For brevity's sake, the example contains only two critical and two commentary notes.

Notes 2 and 4 are commentary notes; hence they are preceded by the mark-up B] (non-bold in the actual document, of course). Notes 1 and 3 are critical notes which is why they are preceded by A]. Note that the length of the lemmas differ: the lemma of note 1 contains one word lemma ('contrariam') and the lemma of note 3 is a whole phrase ('modo agens ... patiente intelligatur').

Non-greedy matching

Note that our conversion program tries to match the smallest passage that is in accordance with the lemma. So if in note 3 the author had specified the lemma 'de ... intelligatur' it would have been considered to refer to 'de patiente intelligatur' and not 'de agente dictum est, idem de patiente intelligatur'.

Error handling

Although the rules are quite simple, it is hard to hand in copy with flawless marked-up notes. In order to ensure a proper conversion of the author's text, our program creates a special log file, containing all problems encountered during the conversion. If for some reason or another a lemma is incorrectly marked, it will be notified by our conversion program and measures can be taken to fix the lemma.

Further adjustments

In a standard set-up, the lemma will be typeset as specified in the footnotes of the submitted copy. However, we are well aware of the different ways critical apparatus are designed. In the example note 1 'A] contrariam] AB contrarium OL I' does not appear as 'contrariam] AB contrarium OL I', as expected. Due to further automatic processing, ordered by the author, we moved the sigla 'AB' to the other side of the bracket. All sorts of additional adjustments can be applied without much effort.


[1] In case you have only two apparatus, it may be convenient to use footnotes for one apparatus and endnotes for the other apparatus.

[2] If reference letters like A, B, C etc. turn out to be confusing, you can choose other reference symbols, like numbers or special characters.

[3] The bold letters A, B, E and OL I are not to be confused with the letters mentioned in rule 3, above. The letters in the example (so-called sigla) refer to manuscripts.