Best Practices > EpiDoc


The EpiDoc Guidelines are a tool produced by the EpiDoc Community that suggests recommendations for encoding scholarly and educational editions of ancient documents. They contain accurate descriptions of the textual, descriptive, and other features expressed with EpiDoc and the corresponding TEI elements, attributes and values used to encode them.

The Guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort and, as such, are constantly implemented: the current version is always available at:


Because of its practical function, the Guidelines are built on examples of ongoing projects based on EpiDoc. Corrections and additions to the Guidelines are made possible thanks to the discussion among community members via:

the Markup List

used by the Community to discuss questions of content, method, development and practice. The responsibility of every section is also indicated at the bottom of each page.

The EpiDoc Guidelines Homepage is contains the following sections:

Introductory section

This section points to different pages:

Tables of contents by transcription style

This section aligns guidelines of specific projects or transcription styles to the general EpiDoc Guidelines.

For transcriptional features, the EpiDoc markup is based on the Leiden Conventions. Through the different EpiDoc Example Stylesheets, the encoded text is, in the final output, rendered according to the Leiden transcription styles appropriate for the ancient documents edited (e.g. Greek and Latin inscriptions or papyri, Egyptian documents, Mycenaean tablets).

Thematic lists of guidelines pages

This section contains the description of all the elements used for the markup of text and metadata, for the insertion of images, and for the semantic markup for indexing and searching purposes.

The page Descriptive and historical data collects information about the metadata (description of the text-bearing object and its ancient and modern history), how to build an apparatus, how to provide a translation of the text into modern languages and how to write a commentary and a bibliography.

Information about how to encode features of the text itself and to express editorial interventions (supplementation, regularization, interpretation of numerals…) is provided by the Text Transcription page.

A third page Images and Figures provides recommendations about how to make reference to photographs, drawings and images of squeezes.

The last page Vocabularies and Indexing Terms offers guidelines about how to encode semantically relevant information in the text, such as personal names, geographical names, titles and offices, but also how to index elements from the metadata and how to use external or internal authority lists, taxonomies, vocabularies to classify and standardize terms. Individual pages are organised by epigraphic or papyrological concept, rather than by TEI element name, but sometimes it can be difficult to browse this section: a useful tool, therefore, is also the search mask in the top left corner, which allows a more immediate search. This is probably the most important section for the EpiDoc encoder. Each page of this section contains in the upper left corner a little box with a link to the corresponding TEI Guidelines with further explanation of the element taken into account. In the main body is a text with a description of how to use the specific element according to the EpiDoc Guidelines and examples showing real cases in which the element has been used in ongoing projects and how this feature is expressed in different transcription styles. These examples are useful to show how from a single XML input multiple outputs can be obtained depending on the project’s specific needs. At the bottom of the page, there are links to other pages in which the element is also mentioned.


The section ‘Appendices’ contains:

Externally maintained guidelines for specialized communities

Here some useful tools for epigraphic training are linked to:

  • the EpiDoc Leiden Cheatsheet a list of the main transcriptional features alongside the Leiden symbols and the corresponding EpiDoc element used to encode them
  • the EpiDoc Structure Cheatsheet, a template of an EpiDoc document followed by a table with explanations about single sections

In addition, this section links to external Guidelines specifict o projects based on EpiDoc.

Other material

Additional tools, EpiDoc tutorials, training materials and information on EpiDoc workshops can
be found on the EpiDoc GitHub page

EpiDoc has a page on The Digital Classicist Wiki, with links to projects, tools and other resources related to the EpiDoc community.

Resource list

EpiDoc Guidelines 9.4: https://epidoc.stoa.org/gl/latest/

EpiDoc on SourceForge: https://sourceforge.net/p/epidoc/wiki/Home/

GitHub page on EpiDoc: https://github.com/EpiDoc/

EpiDoc on Digital Classicist: https://wiki.digitalclassicist.org/EpiDoc


Vagionakis, Irene. EpiDoc Tutorial: Introduction to EpiDoc Guidelines, 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK8S-olT34k