Burnard’s description of the three ‘broad classes’ (compositional features, contextual features, and interpretive features) of information that should be included in text markup is sound. It seems remarkably prescient when, writing over twenty years ago, Burnard suggested that all digital markup information could be included within a ‘single encoding scheme’; this vision seems to have been borne out in the attempts to standardize digital markups using a common syntax (XML) and syntax guidelines from TEI, as described by Gailey. However, Gailey’s criticism of the available tools (e.g. the difficulty in annotating meaningful omissions and visual humor, and the difficulty encoding commentary in overlapping passages of text) is important in reminding us that the system is still imperfect and may call for some ‘creative’ problem-solving.


In addition to the digital encoding projects mentioned by Gailey, the Dickinson College Commentaries provide an interesting example of the benefits and difficulties of digital markups. For example, information about certain contextual features are lacking – we don’t have images of the manuscripts from which the critical edition has been developed, so we miss a lot of visual information (areas where a second hand has corrected mistakes, potential damage to the manuscript rendering the text unreadable, etc.). It is, however, an incredibly convenient resource for those who need an free, accessible text with commentary and vocabulary aid. The ‘About DCC’ page (http://dcc.dickinson.edu/about-dcc) engages with some of the issues brought up in Gailey – see especially the ‘Philosophy and Approach’ section for advantages and disadvantages to digital encoding.