Page numbers


For Brill MRWs, the XML files are often used as the source of both print and online publications. In print, page numbers make sense. In online, less so, because of unpredictably changing screen sizes. Nonetheless, it can be necessary to display page numbers online, for example if the print was published first and the page numbers are part of canonical references. Usually, it is not possible to add page numbers during the content creation process and they have to be included after typesetting.


There is no chapter on page numbers in the TEI Guidelines. There is Chapter 11 Representation of Primary Sources, which offers some advice on page numbers, but in a slightly different context than that of Brill MRWs. The most relevant section is Chapter 3.10.3 Milestone Elements.


In TEI, milestone element mark elements that do not form part of the primary structural hierarchy. For example, a collection of poems may have a primary structural hierarchy of collection-poem-stanza-line. This structure does not necessarily correspond to a grammatical structure of sentences and clauses, as a line may contain more or less than one sentence. In such cases, milestone elements are used to mark the sentences. The same applies to scholarly texts, where lines are usually considered to be a (typographical) feature of a particular (print) edition rather than a structural characteristic.

The milestone element for pages is <pb/> in TEI. It is a closed element, but can take an @n attribute to encode the page number. Remember that "pb" stands for page beginning, not page break, meaning it should be placed ahead of the page it is indicating. @place and @type are also perfectly acceptable attributes. Brill also uses the @ana attribute to encode the volume number. Lastly, @ed is used to indicate the work containing the pages.

For the sake of completeness, here are some other milestone elements: <lb/>, the line beginning which we already encountered in the section on verse; <cb/> or column beginning (which may be encountered in the less fortunate form of pb@corresp in Brill TEI XML files); <gb/> or gathering beginning, something that applies to the transcription of codices; and the neutral <milestone>.


<pb ed="ASD" ana="4" n="60"/>

Milestone elements

  • Tag one structure of the text with <div> and other elements, like <l>. This may be the logical structure of the text, but it could also be a dominant physical structure.
  • Tag the other structure(s) with a milestone element, to wit <milestone>
  • We use <l> instead of <lb/>, even in prose etc. This is because we need to unambiguously indicate the span of the line, and because milestone elements are closed so cannot sit in the middle of an x-path.
  • we only use <milestone> but not the other milestone elements
  • There are four mandatory attributes of <milestone>:
    • @unit. The value is always "section".
    • @ed. The value is the name of the edition or the name of the editor.
    • @type. The value is free.
    • @n. The value is free, but usually a number.


<milestone ed="Wiston" type="chapter" unit="section" n="1" />

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