Title T³ – Typesetting TEI Using TeX. A Plea for High-quality Typesetting in the Humanities1

Encoded by   Vanessa Hannesschläger

Encoded by   Daniel Schopper


The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License applies to this text.


Nowadays, a large and increasing number of editions are "born-digital" , i.e. they are a result of applying IT standards, techniques, and software at (almost) all research stages. XML and the TEI in particular (both organization and standard) paved the way for many academic software tools using XML as an exchange and output format.

However, there are still a significant number of projects, which have to step back into the "old world" when the richly annotated data are supposed to be published as a printed book (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Typesetting XML data for a printed publication. XSLT can be used to transform XML into an appropriate intermediate format. This is then turned into a PDF with the help of a typesetting engine.

Why that? Having a closer look at the latest generation of typesetting engines – both open-source and commercial, it becomes quite obvious, that the requirements of scientific typesetting have not been taken into account to the needed extent. The main reason is that the "X-technologies" 2 are primarily industry-driven and therefore corresponding software consequently meets only the requirements of a specific – admittedly large – non-academic target group. Those requirements motivated from a rather academic perspective, however, regularly get much too little attention.

As a consequence, modern virtual research environments like FuD3 or ediarum4 started to integrate established non-XML-based open-source typesetting tools like TeX to provide a formatted version for proofreading or even a camera-ready copy for a printed publication. There is even a long-standing direct connection between the TEI format and TeX, namely teitolatex, a XSL stylesheet to convert TEI documents into LaTeX equivalents. Unfortunately, the XSL stylesheets5 don’t seem to be very well-known among researchers.

In my talk, I will demonstrate why the "dinosaur" TeX is still needed in a modern XML world and how the community can benefit from more than 30 years of scientific typesetting experience.


  • FuD – A Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities.
  • ediarum – an easy tool for editing manuscripts with TEI XML.
  • Apache(tm) FOP – a print formatter driven by XSL formatting objects (XSL-FO) and an output independent formatter.
  • LaTeX – A document preparation system. [2016-07-20].
  • XML-Print: typesetting arbitrary XML documents in high quality.