TEI: Frequently Asked Questions

About the TEI

What is the TEI?

TEI is short for Text Encoding Initiative. The TEI is an international organization founded in 1987 to develop guidelines for encoding machine-readable texts in the humanities and social sciences. TEI is also used to refer to the TEI Guidelines themselves, and to the set of schemas they describe. The term is sometimes also used to refer to the TEI Consortium (TEI-C), which was established in 2001 to provide ongoing support for further development of the guidelines.

How is the TEI funded?

Since 2001, the TEI is organized as a member-funded consortium. Its funding comes primarily from membership fees, with additional support from its institutional hosts and from occasional grants. The TEI Guidelines are made available online free of charge, but the TEI also receives some income from selling printed copies of the Guidelines.

Who is involved in the TEI?

The TEI community is broad-ranging and international in scope. Many participants are located at academic institutions such as universities and research libraries. They may be involved in digital library programs, scholarly text encoding projects, computing support units, academic departments, independent research projects, and many other kinds of groups. Some participants are affiliated with standards bodies, funding agencies, governmental organizations, or companies, and some are simply interested in text encoding.

How can I support the TEI?

You can support the TEI in a number of ways. The TEI depends on financial support from membership and subscription dues, so by joining the TEI as an institutional member or an individual subscriber you will be making it possible for the TEI to continue developing and supporting the TEI Guidelines. You can also support the TEI by participating in its work: by contributing to a TEI special interest group, by using the Guidelines, by participating in discussions on the TEI-L discussion list, and by contributing stylesheets, tools, and sample texts to the TEI wiki.

About TEI membership

How can I join the TEI?

Please see our page “Join Us” for information about joining.

How can I get grant funding for TEI membership?

Some granting agencies, particularly in the USA, allow applicants to include the cost of TEI membership in the budget proposal for a digital project that will use the TEI Guidelines. The TEI encourages projects to do this, and provides advice and assistance in drafting the portion of the proposal that describes the project’s use of the TEI. For more information and to get help preparing the proposal, please contact the TEI at info@tei-c.org.

Can the TEI help me encourage my institution to join the TEI?

Yes, the TEI actively seeks to recruit new institutional members and is very happy to work with individuals and projects to build support for TEI membership at their institutions. If you think your institution should join the TEI and would like more information on membership benefits, the application process, or any other aspect of membership, please contact the TEI at info@tei-c.org.

My project joined the TEI at one membership level, but we would now like to increase (or decrease) our membership level. How can we do this?

This happens quite often: TEI projects may initially become members with funding from a grant but cannot sustain the membership level once the grant is finished. Similarly, an institution may join at a lower level when it first begins using the TEI, but may find after a time that its level of TEI participation has increased. In either case, to change your membership level, please contact the TEI at membership@tei-c.org and we can make the necessary adjustment. We encourage projects and institutions to increase their membership level when they have the resources to do so, and we understand that it may be necessary to reduce the membership level when funding is short. We would much rather have members continue at a lower level than discontinue their membership altogether.

Can I attend the annual conference and members’ meeting even if my institution is not a member?

Yes, the TEI annual conference and members’ meeting is open to all.

About the TEI Guidelines

When will the TEI Guidelines be finished?

The TEI Guidelines define an encoding language that is intended for use in encoding scholarly resources. Because our understanding of text encoding is evolving and progressing, and also because scholars’ use of digital resources is constantly changing, the TEI Guidelines require ongoing revision to remain current and to serve their intended purpose. Specific versions of the Guidelines are published and remain stable (with changes only as needed to fix errors). The current version is P5, released in November 2007; it makes significant changes and improvements over the previous version, P4, which was released in 2000. Support for P4 continues, but it is no longer being developed.

How can I create a customized TEI schema?

The TEI is intended to be customized by its users. To simplify the customization process, the TEI supports a tool called Roma, which provides a web interface through which you can make and preserve your customization choices and generate customized schemas and documentation. The chapter of the Guidelines on Using the TEI describes the customization process in more detail. You may also find it helpful to consult the materials provided at this site on how to get the Guidelines and on customization.

What is TEI Lite?

TEI Lite is a specific customization of the TEI tagset, designed to meet “90% of the needs of 90% of the TEI user community”. Due to its simplicity and the fact that it can be learned with relative ease, TEI Lite has been widely adopted, particularly by beginners and by big institutional projects that rely on large teams of encoders to markup their documents.

What is TEI Tite?

TEI Tite is a constrained customization of TEI designed for use when outsourcing production of TEI documents to vendors (who use some combination of OCR and keyboarding). While the canonical version is maintained by the Council, a derived version is used in the AccessTEI program.

What is AccessTEI?

AccessTEI is a partnership between the TEI Consortium and Apex CoVantage, LLC. TEI member institutions receive a special rate on scanning of print or microfilm items (if desired) and on encoding according to a derived version of TEI Tite.

TEI Lite doesn’t have the tag I want: how do I add it?

(or TEI Lite has too many tags I don’t want: how do I get rid of them?). In either case, the answer is the same: to create a new TEI customization based on TEI Lite, you need to take the customization file that produced the TEI Lite DTD or schema, and modify that file, then generate a new DTD or schema. You should not modify the TEI Lite DTD or schema itself directly. The specification file for the P5 version of TEI Lite is available. Information on how to customize a TEI P5 schema with Roma is also available; see also Getting Started with P5 ODDs. The customization files for the TEI Lite are also available.

How can I find out whether the TEI includes tags for the concept I want to encode?

The TEI Guidelines include an alphabetical list of all elements defined in the Guidelines. You can also browse the full text. If you need further guidance, try sending a query to the TEI-L mailing list or contact a nearby TEI project.

How can I propose a new topic to be covered by the Guidelines?

The chief mechanism for extending the TEI’s coverage is by means of chartered TEI workgroups. Proposals from workgroups are made available for public discussion, and reviewed by the TEI Technical Council, before they become part of the standard.

For an overview of the currently chartered workgroups and links to the work in progress, visit the TEI Activities pages.

About using the TEI

What are some projects that use TEI tagging?

There are too many to list here, and we continually hear about more. A few high-profile examples include the British National Corpus, the Wittgenstein Archive, the Women Writers’ Project, Perseus, many commercial systems and publications, and nearly every electronic text project funded by NEH. The TEI maintains a list of TEI projects; if you would like to add or update information about your project, please send email to web@tei-c.org.

Is the TEI difficult to learn?

The TEI is a very extensive encoding language and is intended to support very complex encoding of very complex documents. However, it is not intrinsically difficult to learn. The basic concepts are straightforward and the encoding required for a simple document is no more difficult or complex than HTML. If your documents are simple and the encoding you want to do is basic, you can learn to use the TEI in the course of a short workshop (2-3 days), or you can teach yourself within a week or so. If you need to describe very complex structures, it will take longer to learn the necessary tags, and it may also take longer to decide how they should be used. In very complex text encoding projects, where the markup is used to express complex editorial constructs, encoders may be trained for a year or more before they feel fully competent, but this training includes not only the markup itself but also the editorial expertise necessary to apply it appropriately.

How can I learn to use the TEI?

For some people, the simplest way to learn the TEI is to read the TEIGuidelines. However, the Guidelines are not primarily intended as a training document, and many find it easier to work with a tutorial or to attend a workshop. Workshops are taught at intervals in various places and also through the Education SIG. The TEI also maintains a list of online tutorials and other training materials. However you choose to begin, the best way to learn is to do some actual encoding: choose a text that interests you, get an XML-aware text editor, and try your hand at encoding it. (For information on tools to support text encoding, see below.)

Where can I see samples of TEI encoding?

The TEI maintains a small set of sample texts that may be used for experimentation or as models to learn from. Sample texts are also being collected at TEI by Example at the Centrum voor Teksteditie en Bronnenstudie. Many projects will also share sample texts informally upon request.

What can I do with my TEI-encoded text?

TEI markup supports a wide range of useful functions including online publication, searching, text analysis, and conversion into other formats. There are many tools for manipulating, presenting and querying XML documents available and listed in the TEI wiki. The TEI does not directly endorse any of these, however, there is a TEI Tools Special Interest Group where experiences with these tools are discussed.

What tools can I use to author my TEI documents?

Although you can use any text editor to edit TEI documents, there are more sophisticated tools available which allow you to validate your encoding against the TEI schema and perform other useful functions. The TEI does not directly endorse any of these. However, the TEI wiki contains a list of software that is commonly used.

Where can I archive my TEI texts for posterity?

If you have created a valuable academic resource that conforms to the TEI Guidelines and you want to ensure that a copy will be available in the future, you may wish to investigate the possibility of depositing your texts with an electronic text archive, quite independently of any plans you have for distribution of it yourself. The Oxford Text Archive is one of the oldest such archives and is always on the look-out for scholarly digital resources.