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Symbols and Editing

A guide to the editing symbols used by the Darwin Manuscripts Project

‹ › = deleted text  

« » = interlined text   

BOLD = text added





The reason why we lavish our Full Text transcriptions of Darwin's scientific manuscripts with attention is that we are trying to capture Darwin's texts as he composed & revised them. He often later added to his texts as he sorted and reused them for new purposes. 'Later' could mean very close to the original time of composition or it could have been years afterwards. In some cases he evidently wrote with a contrasting marking crayon, pencil, or pen immediately at hand. So the essence of transcribing Darwin—beyond just reading his handwriting—is to clearly record the layers of his writing and his streams of consciousness.

The two most important revisions found in the base layer—that is, in the original composition layer, are deletion and interlineation. We record these revisions by using twin symbols in the running line of text:

‹deleted text› and «interlined text». (Interlining is explained below.) Any portion of text that we have good evidence was a new or added inscription, is transcribed in bold. This is a very simple and unobtrusive way of recording the basic revision process. But besides these three fundamental actions: deleting, interlining, and adding, there are usually other textual features or physical characteristics to record. We do this by means of textual notes: t1, t2 give editorial comments on a text's details and revisions. 

Full Text uses a number of defined terms.

Textual notes:
deleted  ‹text›
Text to be dropped, cancelled

interlined  «text»
New text introduced, typically by means of a caret (^)
Typically interlined means placed above, and sometimes below, the writing line. But this should not be taken literally, as CD's writing can trail off down the edge of a page and he can 'interline' in the margin. Also he does not always use a caret to interline. The interlining symbol « » captures all the foregoing cases. Darwin sometimes writes a caret without interlining anything. This is the only case where the caret is transcribed. 

Represented by bold face text and used for text thought to be additional to an initial passage.
Best used where the writing material changes (ink, pencil, brown crayon), rather than just the size or direction of the handwriting. Added text is frequently interlined: «text». It can of course include deletions.

Block of text inserted, usually by letters or numbers such as (AA) (1), from a verso, another sheet, or loose slip.

Block of text transposed within a single page, usually by bubbles, lines, and carets

After CD used, or else wanted to reject, a passage or a page, he would draw one or more straight or wavy lines through it. No meaning is ascribed to the number or geometry of crossings.

Passage marked off by one or more vertical lines, usually in the margin.

Editorial Lingo:
All you need to know to follow the descriptions of a Darwin manuscript is on the following list.

Ms, Mss, MS, MSS

Ms p 1A
Page numbered (1 by CD

One side of a piece of paper

sheet, leaf, folio 
Synonyms for a piece of paper

recto (r), verso (v)
Top and bottom sides of a sheet

modified image (-mod)

Designates an image that has been rotated or inverted
e.g. DAR 1: 1-mod

writing material
Brown ink is the silent default

upright:  |
Marks line break in a list
(uprights used for page breaks are being removed)

Further terms, including Full Text and Clarified Text, as well as the rationale and assumption underlying their use are found in Edited Manuscripts: the Big Picture.