[Electronic Text Center] [Introduction to TEI]

Guidelines for SGML Text Mark-up at the Electronic Text Center

David Seaman, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia

A Practical Introduction to the Tag Set

Large Scale Divisions and Small Scale Elements

The TEI guidelines draw a distinction between two broadly defined classes of structure: the major "structural division" markers (such as a chapter) and smaller "elements" (such as paragraphs, italicized phrases, verse lines, or individual speeches in a play).

The Major Structural Divisions

This category includes the major partitions of the text beginning with descriptions of the largest partitions: the "TEI" document, the "TEI" header, the "text", the "body" of the text, "front" and "back" matter; and ending with descriptions of partitions within the textual body itself: volumes, chapters, sections, acts, etc.


Tags can be further expanded and defined through the use of "attributes", which are descriptive components within the opening tag.

General Guidelines for Attribute Usage

Common Attribute Definitions for Major Structural Divisions

The following are typical "type" attributes for major divisional structures in prose and poetry:

Tagging of Smaller-Scale Elements

Unlike the tags that mark the larger structural hierarchy, this second class of tags identify individual aspects of a text. They are not part of a numbered hierarchy. Common examples include tags to mark typographical elements, titles, paragraphs, or lines. Examples of element tags are listed in the sections below, and a far more extensive list can be found in the Text Encoding Initiative's Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange.

Examples of the use of these smaller-scale elements can be found throughout the other sections of this guide.

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