The Renaissance Electronic Texts series consists of old-spelling, electronic editions of single manuscript or printed copies of early English works, encoded in Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) syntax. Normally, two tagsets are employed: the RET one, and HTML. Often these two appear in the same document. Initially, RET volumes include only introduction, text, and appendices. Full annotation is postponed.

Both paper and electronic editions may be read, but only the second can be transformed into other forms easily, such as concordances, collations, and specialized kinds of edition. RET editions enable researchers to experiment with the texts and to use the software of their choice. If accompanied by digitized images of the source, however, electronic editions also take on an archival role, preserving something of the original and providing readers a way of checking transcriptions. An image base can assist in understanding books, language, and literature, and help to increase knowledge by an computer-based analysis of the texts. The electronic edition is a sound basis for future work on primary texts. Drawing on palaeography and bibliography, it supplies historical scholars with a flexible medium for studying them.

The first volume in the Renaissance Electronic Texts series is Certaine Sermons or Homilies appointed to be read in Churches, In the time of the late Queene Elizabeth of famous memory, published in 1623. The second volume in the Renaissance Electronic Texts series is Edmond Coote's The English Schoolmaister (1596). Shake-speares Sonnets, published in 1609, is the third.

The principles of RET editions are as follows:

For further discussion, see the RET encoding guidelines.

December 1997