Transcribing historical texts with HisTEI:

Quickly and easily transcribe historical texts in a computer searchable and widely-used standard format: XML/TEI.Pick from a wide range of editing options, link pictures to transcriptions, store meta data, customize for own use

HisTEI is a framework designed for the Oxygen XML editor. This custom framework, designed specifically with historical, archival documents, can help you produce detailed transcriptions using the TEI, without the hassle of having to manually type all the XML-tags when encoding your texts. A wide range of buttons and short cut-keys allows for error free and rapid encoding. HisTEI also allows you to link images or PDFs to your transcriptions, making it easy to access the original facsimiles while working with a text. HisTEI is open-source, so the basic frameworks offered can be tailored to fit your own specific needs.

What can you do with HisTEI? Some key features:

Transcribing and encoding in a word processor like view:
HisTEI is equipped with a set of toolbars supplying you with a wide range of encoding buttons which allows you to document important features of the original manuscript in great detail. The visualized mark-up makes it easy to keep track of the edits you are making; line breaks, deletions, etc. are visualized in the author mode. This more visual approach in the author mode is much more reader friendly than the actual xml-tags that are displayed when editing XML in the text mode:

Author mode with visualized edits

By clicking a button HisTEI inserts an XML tag behind the scenes as seen in text mode.

The buttons work the same as in Word: You can simply undo a mark-up action by selecting the relevant text and by clicking the button again. This method is a lot easier and less error prone than having to delete tags manually.

Wide range of buttons to mark-up edits

A selection of some of the available edits buttons:
deletions, illegibilities, unclear readings, insertions, abbreviations and expansions. The buttons are supplied with tooltips, so you can conveniently see what function each button has and what the corresponding short-cut keys are:

Below is an excerpt of a letter where the transcriber was not sure of the reading of the second word. There is also a gap in the text due to damage:

Your encoding will be visualized clearly: 

You can convey additional information, for instance, the reason why a reading is uncertain, or why there is a gap in the text:


Encoding and visualizing contextual information

You can simply click on a button to enrich your text with meta-data, such as geographical references, time references, and persons:

Below a person name has been marked up with a person tag:


Easy access to image of the original:

You can insert page breaks by using a button, so that each transcribed page corresponds with the physical page breaks of the original. Within the page breaks you can link to the corresponding image of the original page. This way you can effortlessly pull out the image of the original and check your transcription.

Efficiently store and link contextual information

The currently available frameworks offer templates that are tailored to different historical text types, such as letters, ordinances, depositions and journals. These templates also contain headers that allow you to record the contextual information belonging to a file i.e. archival information, images and other documents, but also information regarding the origin of a text and its author. Additionally, there are templates where you can store contextual information centrally. In other words, when you insert the name of an author in the header attached to a file, HisTEI creates a link to a central person file where you store all relevant info about all authors used in your database i.e. place of birth, life dates etc. This way you only have to make updates or revisions in the central file, instead of having to go through every single header to update your contextual information:

Once a person is stored in the person file you can simply choose the name from a dropdown menu, or add a new person to the central file by clicking on the pencil icon:

This is just a sample of what HisTEI has in store for you. There are many features within HisTEI that can only be experience once you get started.

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