RET consists of old-spelling electronic editions of works in the Early Modern English period (1450-1700), encoded in SGML for on-line World-Wide Web browsers and as well in COCOA for DOS-based text-analysis programs like TACT and Oxford Concordance Program. The series also issues supplementary transcriptions of Renaissance texts and studies about electronic editing for this period.

While both paper and electronic editions may be read, only the second can be transformed interactively into concordances, collations, and other specialized kinds of edition or combined with other electronic materials into hypertexts of many kinds. If accompanied by digitized images of its source, an electronic edition takes on an archival role, preserving something of the original.

The electronic edition is the basis of future work on primary texts. Drawing on palaeography and bibliography, it supplies historical scholarship with a valuable tool for the understanding of the texts with which it deals.