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Theoretically, any type of edition can be published in electronic format (in the past on CD-ROM, nowadays on the web). A major distinction must be made, however, between static, digitised editions (reproducing the features of an edition in printed form) and dynamic, truly digital editions (taking full advantage of the digital medium) (Sahle 2013).

The vast majority of digital editions that exist, are documentary editions (see Pierazzo 2014), probably because their methodology (linking the image of a single document to a transcription and an edited text) was more suited for the electronic format. Only few "truly critical and truly digital" editions exist so far, and they mostly reproduced in electronic format the traditional critical apparatus (see Fischer 2013 for two different examples, see also Andrews 2013 and Robinson 2013).

Many new features are possible in the digital medium: there are no limitations of space and of paper format, linking is much easier and on the whole the edition is no longer constrained to a single dimension of reading. A few examples show some of these new possibilities:

Example 1: A tradition with much variation

Wolfram of Eschenbach's Parzival, project led by Michael Stolz, University of Bern. Features include a synoptic view of edited text and manuscripts, clickable apparatus entries, synoptic views of recensions or manuscripts.

Example 2: Glosses 

For editing glosses to a text, a digital edition can be very advantageous as the manuscript containing them can be visualised beside the edition instead of only being described. E.g. Heidi Eisenhut's "Die Glossen Ekkeharts IV. im Codex Sangallensis 621",

Example 3: Incorporation in metacorpora

Richard Rufus's texts are currently being edited by a team led by Riga Wood (Princeton University). Their text is integrated into the metacorpus "Corpus Corporum", This allows it to be searched and compared with other text, besides enabling features like clicking words to visualise dictionary entries about them.


– Andrews, Tara L. 2013. “The Third Way: Philology and Critical Edition in the Digital Age.” Variants 10: 61–76.
– Fischer, Franz. 2013. “All texts are equal, but… Textual plurality and the critical text in digital scholarly editions.” Variants 10: 77–91.
– Haugen, Odd Einar, and Daniel Apollon. 2014. “The Digital Turn in Textual Scholarship: Historical and Typological Perspectives.” In Digital Critical Editions, edited by Daniel Apollon, Claire Bélisle, and Philippe Régnier, 35–57. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
– Macé, Caroline, and Jost Gippert. Forthcoming. “Textual Criticism and Editing in the Digital Age.” In Oxford Handbook of Greek & Latin Textual Criticism, edited by W. de Melo and S. Scullion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
– Pierazzo, Elena. 2014. “Digital Documentary Editing and the Others.” Scholarly Editing: The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing 35.
– Robinson, Peter M. W. 2013. “Towards a Theory of Digital Editions.” Variants 10: 105–131.
– Sahle, Patrick. 2013. Digitale Editionsformen: Zum Umgang mit der Überlieferung unter den Bedingungen des Medienwandels. 3 vols. Norderstedt: Books on Demand.
– Shillingsburg, Peter L. 2006. From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic representation of literary texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
– van Zundert, Joris. 2015. “By way of conclusion: Truly scholarly, digital and innovative editions.” In Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches, edited by Tara L. Andrews and Caroline Macé, 335–346. Turnhout: Brepols.

In other languages

DE: digitale Edition / Ausgabe
FR: édition électronique / digitale
IT: edizione elettronica / digitale


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