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Editions and apparatuses tend to use a lot of abbreviations and sigla. Unfortunately even within one and the same scholarly field there are often different, and even contradictory usages; nonetheless it seemed to make sense to list a few abbreviations and editorial signs that are often used.

1. Critical signs are used within the text to indicate editorial interventions or doubts. 


  • < … > addendum should be added to the text (but is lost in the archetype)
  • […] delendum should be deleted from the text (but stands in the archetype)
  • (…) is sometimes used for resolved abbreviations from the manuscript, like: eccl(esia)m. Usually only used when editing a single witness (cf. copy text)
  • ⌊...⌋ addendum ex interpretatione may be used to characterise text that was translated back by the editor from an old translation whose exemplar seems to have had it.

Note that brackets are especially prone to different usage. Philologists of the classical languages often use them as stated, but e.g. the Oxford Classical Texts series uses them differently:

  • < ... > addendum
  • { ... } delendum.

Maas (1960) recommends [[ ... ]] or { ... } as delendum, reserving [...] for mechanical lacunae.

Some other often used editorial signs:

  • † … † locus desperatus, unresolvable corruption, sometimes referred to as ‘crux’
  • *** lacuna 
  • ạḅ  dots below letters indicate uncertain readings
  • ⌊ ... ⌋ may be used for an addition based on a mediaeval translation in a different language than the text's (indirect tradition)
  • A¹, A² ... readings introduced by later hands (details should be explained in a section on sigla, usually right before the edited text) – cf. sigla.

Among the witnesses quoted in the apparatus criticus, manuscripts are usually abbreviated with capital Latin letters, early prints with minuscule Latin ones, and families (i.e. the readings of reconstructed hyparchetypes) by Greek capital letters.

2. Next to those critical signs, abbreviations are often used in the apparatus criticus, generally written in Latin.

Some commonly used abbreviations:

  • a.c. ante correctionem a reading in a manuscript before it was altered (be it by the same scribe or a later one)
  • a.m. alia manu written by another hand
  • conj. conjecit conjecture by a modern scholar (usually followed by his name)
  • corr. correxit corrected
  • del. delevit deleted
  • eras. erasum erased
  • exp. expunxit expunged
  • inv. invertit inverted
  • iter. iteravit repeated
  • lac. lacuna a lacuna in the witness
  • l. dub. lectio dubia hard to decipher reading
  • (in) mg. in margine written in the margin
  • om. omisit an omission in some manuscripts
  • add. addidit an addition in some manuscripts
  • p.c. post correctionem a reading in a manuscript after it was altered (be it by the same scribe or a later one). In case several layers of change can be identified, numbers may clarify to which one a particular change belongs (see sigla)
  • ras. sub rasura mechanically deleted in the manuscript by scraping off
  • s.l. supra lineam addition made above the line in a manuscript
  • superscr. superscriptum the same as s.l.
  • ut vid. ut videtur ‘as it seems’, for uncertain manuscript readings.
  • transp. transposuit transposed

A long list of signs and abbreviations can be found in appendix 1 of Bernabé and Hernández Muñoz (2010).

3. In the apparatus fontium, names of authors and titles, especially of Biblical books, are often abbreviated.


– Bernabé, Alberto, and Felipe G. Hernández Muñoz. 2010. Manual de crítica textual y edición de textos griegos. 2nd ed. Madrid: Akal.
– Maas, Paul. 1960. Textkritik. 4th ed. Leipzig: Teubner. – First ed. 1927.

In other languages

DE: Abkürzungen und Sigla
FR: abréviations et signes critiques
abbreviazioni e segni convenzionali 

PR (with help from CM)


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