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If the collation is done manually, a collation exemplar or reference text (sometimes referred to as a base text for collation which is distinguished from a base text used for an edition) is chosen, against which the other witnesses are compared. Especially with broad textual traditions collatio collation can be very exacting. A traditional method to cope with this difficulty is to procede proceed by singling out and then collating a limited number of variant locations or loci critici (selecti) (this . This is for example the method carried out by Federico Sanguineti in his edition of Dantis Alagherii Comedia (2001).

It is possible nowadays to collate the witnesses is in a semi-automated way, but this requires that every witness is first transcribed (see the explanation of the procedure by Tara Andrews in Macé 2015, 332-335).  A number of collation software programs have been developed over the past years, see for example CollateX.