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A bit late to the party. Been trying to send this for the last day...

If you aren't using the <abbr> element to surround the part of the word that is visible in the document, then surrounding with <expan> is very useful for demarcating the extent of the abbreviated word. It also serves as a container for the <am> (abbreviation marker) element. 

It's possible to use a script as James has already described to put in the full encoding for the expan/abbr/ex cluster if words are unambiguous, or to fill out the tags and supplement ambiguities by hand.

It's easier for encoders to only use the <ex>, and perhaps should be part of encoding practice, but that shouldn't necessarily determine the resulting encoding. 

 --elli

[Elli Mylonas
 Senior Digital Humanities Librarian
 and
 Center for Digital Scholarship
 University Library
 Brown University
 library.brown.edu/cds]

On Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 10:44 AM, Sebastiaan Verweij <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear all

A brief question: I’m considering not using the <expan> tags while transcribing a large body of seventeenth century mss. I note that the TEI P5 guidelines give a range of examples for <ex>, which we will use, and it seems optional to surround the entire expanded word with the <expan> tags (to mark its boundaries in some way). E.g., 

exa<ex>m</ex>ple
or
<expan>exa<ex>m</ex>ple</expan>

Our rationale is mainly around time saving, so I was wondering if you have a view on this in terms of TEI practice. Is there a good reason to retain <expan> if this will not add any functionality to our project? Have you omitted these tags in the past and wished you hadn’t? Thanks so much.  

Sebastiaan

Dr Sebastiaan Verweij
Lecturer in Late-Medieval and Early Modern English Literature
University of Bristol 
(+44) (0) 117 92 88090