Digital Tools Glossary

Digital Tools Glossary

Most specialist terms are explained the first time they occur, but here are a few which are only mentioned in passing:

Browse the glossary using this index

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Ancestor a collective term for the elements within which a child element is nested; thus the root element is the ancestor of every other element in an XML file


assign to assign a variable is to give it a value


Attribute a container for information about the contents of an element, held in an opening tag,  separated from the element name by a space and followed by an equal sign, eg. <date style=”new style”>; elements can have multiple attributes

Attribute value

Attribute value attributes are fixed but their values can vary in each instance, they follow the equal sign and must be within quotation marks, eg <person id=”123456”>



Boolean a data format in Python that can only have the values true or false. More generally, Boolean operators create logical structures by combining statements with and, not and or.


Character data

Character data text that is ignored by the XML editor or other software; this means that characters such as & or < will be ignored and need not be rendered as entities


Child the immediate descendant of an element, i.e. an element nested directly within another

Closing tag

Closing tag the second part of an element, denoted by a forward slash after the opening angle bracket, eg  </body>


codepoint a unique number that defines a character and the number of bytes needed to encode it


concatenation the joining together of multiple things: strings, variables, files, etc.


Crowdsourcing the use of volunteers to contribute to a research project



Descendant an element nested inside another, at however deep a level – so all other elements in an XML document are descendants of the root element


DocBook an XML format for encoding books and papers


DTD Document Type Definition, a declaration which specifies which elements and attributes are allowed in an XML file, and how they can be used



EAD (Encoded Archival Description) an XML markup scheme for encoding archival finding aids


EEBO (Early English Books Online) a project to photograph all books published in England or English between the beginning of printing and 1700. Originally a microfilm product, EEBO is now published on the web by ProQuest.


EEBO-TCP a project to take a selection of page images from EEBO and produce lightly encoded TEI-conformant XML transcriptions of the texts


Element a discrete piece of markup, usually consisting of an opening and closing tag

Entity reference

Entity reference an encoding for a particular character that begins with & and ends with a semi-colon, eg  &amp;. Used in HTML for reserved characters, they also have wider applications.



Join a database manipulation technique to combine multiple tables into a new table

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