The Auchinleck Manuscript. Back to home page
King Richard f326 *

Editorial and Transcription policy

National Library of Scotland -


The intention of the editors has been to produce accurate and consistently transcribed and edited texts for this electronic edition. The aim has also been to provide texts that are readily readable and suitable to be searched with the dtSearch software.

The description below details the ways in which features of script, layout and punctuation have been represented and lists cases of editorial regularisation.

Representation of letters

In addition to the standard Roman alphabet are the characters upper case thorn <Þ>, lower case thorn <þ>, upper case yogh <> and lower case yogh <Š>. The use of the graphemes <i>, <j>, <u>, <v>, <&> and <ff> all follow the manuscript form. However, no distinction is made between different palaeographic letter forms: so long and short versions of s are both represented as <s> and likewise for the different forms of <r>, <e>, and so on. Enlarged and coloured manuscript initials are not themselves represented. However, as they are taken to represent a textual division, a blank line is inserted into the edited text at these points. Paragraph signs are represented as ¶ and, again, as they are taken to represent a textual division, a blank line is inserted in the edited text (see Layout below).

Notes on electronic representation: The transcription pages substitute lower case yogh for upper case yogh to enable effective text searching.

Different browsers and operating systems may or may not display and/or search for the yogh character.
Yogh (text character) Š If the text character does not look the same as the graphic image, users may download and install the specially created Auchinleck font.
Yogh (graphic image of character) Yogh (image)


Scribal abbreviations are silently expanded in the edited texts of this edition. The use of abbreviations by the Auchinleck scribes is highly conventional.


Capitalisation has been regularised in line with standard modern practices. So, the first letter of a line or sentence, proper nouns (including 'God') and nationalities ('French') are all capitalised, but other letters, though they may be capitalised by the scribe, are in lower case.


The layout of column and line generally follow the manuscript. So, for example, the edited texts follow the manuscript by dividing the long lines of The Nativity and Early Life of Mary, Seynt Mergrete and Seynt Katerine. There are two cases, however, in which the editors have slightly modified the manuscript arrangement in order to provide a text which is more clear and easily readable. Firstly, the short 'bob' lines in Þe Simonie are, in the manuscript, positioned at the end (the right-hand side) of the preceding line, whereas in the edited text each is presented as a new line justified to the left in the conventional way. Secondly, The Legend of Pope Gregory has been copied with two lines of verse on each manuscript line with a punctus mark between them (to give the effect of long lines). In the edited text these lines are divided.

Blank lines have been inserted into the texts at certain points by the editors in order to indicate a textual division. So, where a text is written in stanzas, each new stanza is preceded by a blank line and where a text is written in couplets, a blank line precedes every point at which the manuscript text has a paragraph sign or an enlarged initial (see Representation of Letters above). There are a few exceptions to this, according to the idiosyncrasies of particular texts; for example, in the Harrowing of Hell blank lines are used to separate speaker labels; in A Clerk who would see the Virgin stanza divisions reflect the perception of the scribe (who sometimes sees a 12-line stanza and sometimes alternating 8 and then 4-line stanzas); and in some of the shorter, couplet texts it has been found most appropriate not to insert blank lines before paraphs but to include them before speeches.

In the case of misplaced lines, where the scribe indicates the intended, correct position of the line then it has been restored to this position. However, where there is no such indication the line is retained in the position it appears in the manuscript and a footnote indicates the error.


All punctuation in the manuscript has been ignored and replaced with punctuation which follows standard, modern practices. As a general policy, punctuation has been used sparingly and the aim has been to produce texts which are lightly and consistently punctuated. Dashes are only used in a truly parenthetic sense.

Word spacing and hyphenation

The word spacing of the manuscript has been regularised. This is important as it minimises the potential number of variant forms of a word and this, therefore, makes electronic searching of the texts much more straightforward and precise without loss of linguistic information. For the same reason, hyphenation of compounds has been avoided.

The following lists specify how a number of common variant forms have been regularised in the edited texts:

Cases where a space is always removed
Manuscript Forms Edited Text
in to / into into
al so / also also
for Šiue / forŠiue forŠiue
for Šete / forŠete forŠete
wiþ inne / wiþinne wiþinne
wiþ out / wiþout wiþout
man kynd / mankynd mankynd
Cases where a space is always retained
Manuscript Forms Edited Text
for to / forto for to
him selue / himselue him selue
her of / herof her of
þer of / þerof þer of
whar þurw / wharþurw whar þurw
þer wiþ / þerwiþ þer wiþ
Cases where a space is added
Manuscript Forms Edited Text
Indefinite article + noun, e.g. akniŠt a kniŠt


Examples of elided words such as þerl ('the earl') and þemperour ('the emperor') are transcribed in their manuscript form.

Use of italics

Italics are used for non-English words, such as the lines of Latin in Dauid þe King (or, Psalm L) and the Latin assignments in The Harrowing of Hell.


Titles are not included within the lineation of a text. Lines of French or Latin that are integral to a text (such as appear in The Speculum Gy de Warewyke and The Sayings of the Four Philosophers) are included within the lineation and treated no differently to any other lines of the text. Where a scribe copies a line twice, the second line is excluded in the edited text and a note is given. In cases where lines have been lost but it is uncertain how many, then these lines are not included within the lineation. Other examples where lines are excluded from the lineation (such as the stub lines in The Harrowing of Hell and the speaker labels in The Thrush and the Nightingale) are recorded in the headnote to the text. In the case of The Nativity and Early Life of Mary, Seynt Mergrete and Seynt Katerine, the lineation respects the 'long line' construction of the stanza even though, in the manuscript, these long lines have been divided.

Scribal errors and editorial corrections

Where a scribe has crossed out or underdotted a letter, word or line this is omitted from the edited text and a note is given. Where a letter, word or line is written superscript, or inserted above the line with a caret mark, or written subscript, or written in the margin and inserted with a symbol, this has been noted but the word, letter or line has been restored to its correct position.

Where the scribe has incorrectly copied an additional word or letter then this word or letter is included enclosed within curved brackets ( ). Where the scribe has written completely the wrong word then the editors have corrected the error and a note is provided giving the manuscript reading.

Where a letter, word, line or group of lines is missing from the manuscript text for some reason then this missing material has, where possible, been reconstructed by the editor and is enclosed within square brackets [ ].

Transcriber's notes and observations

Notes and observations made by the transcriber or editor appear next to the line in which they occur (and can be viewed by holding the mouse over the notepad icon). These usually involve details of scribal errors, corrections or inconsistencies. Editorial notes within the text itself (usually regarding sections lost from the manuscript) are enclosed within curly brackets { }.