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:

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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”>


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

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


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


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>


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


metadata data that describes other data; the file properties given in an operating system, such as when the file was created, modified, and so on, are a basic form of metadata


Nest  an element that opens and closes inside another element (its parent) is nested within it, so date is nested within lang here:  <lang name=”Latin”>Sepultus erat <date value=”3-10-1609”>tertio die Octobris</date></lang>

Opening tag

Opening tag the first part of an element, bounded by angle brackets, eg <p>


Parent the immediate ancestor element of another element

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