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Digital text

A lot of research in the humanities revolves around textual analysis. More and more literary texts, printed media and historical sources are available in digitized form nowadays. Researchers can also digitize sources themselves. Digitization has several advantages:

  • Availability: vulnerable and rare texts in digitized form can be accessed by researchers all over the world, regardless of their location.
  • Searchability and new opportunities for analysis: digitized texts can be searched in various ways and lend themselves to computer-assisted text analysis.
  • Special types of publication: digitized texts can be published digitally, in ways that are not possible in traditional printing. Digital editions can include dynamic hyperlinks to information outside the text, leading to innovative ways of using the traditional system of footnotes and endnotes. A digital copy of an ancient manuscript can also be systematically linked to a transcript and/or a translation. This makes it easier to make the results of textual analysis and editing accessible to an interested public.

This section summarizes the different types of digitized text files, what applications they have and in what ways they can be stored (the so-called file format, which largely determines what you can do with a digital text file and how this can/should be done). Finally, there are some remarks on the annotation that may be added to digitized text.

You can find more information about digital text files in:

Willett, Perry. "Electronic Texts: Audiences and Purposes". Chapter 18 of A Companion to Digital Humanities. Eds. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth. Oxford, Blackwell, 2004.

Other topics in this section: Types   File formats   Annotation