Internet Shakespeare Editions

Plays and Poems: Help

This page provides tips and tricks for researching and navigating our collection of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. The menus at the top of each page allow for quick navigation. The toolbox provides access to additional information about the play.

Navigating the Plays and Poems

There are multiple ways to navigate a single text and between versions of the same text using the menus at the top, bottom, and left of each page.

The drop-down "View" menu allows the text to be displayed in three ways: 

To jump to a specific scene number in a play or stanza in a long poem, select scene or stanza from the "View" drop-down, choose an option from the "Section" drop-down, then click "Go."

You can also navigate directly to a specific line number using the TLN field (TLNs are Through Line Numbers; they record the lines from the start of the play or poem to the end without starting again in a different scene or section. TLNs are taken from those created in the First Folio of 1623). Enter the TLN, then select "Go."

To view a facsimile image of the text you are currently viewing, click on the name of a facsimile from the "Facsimiles of this work" section in the left-hand menu. Additional instructions for navigating the facsimiles are located on the Facsimile help page.

To navigate between different editions of the same text, choose an option from the "Texts" drop-down menu, just below the play title. Depending on the edition you are viewing, both a modern-spelling edition and old-spelling transcriptions of the Folios and Quartos may be available.

Toolbox

Our toolbox, located in the menu on the left side of the page, provides additional research tools that enable students and scholars to make the most of the digital environment.

Search

Search within the work you are currently viewing for a particular word or phrase using the “Search This Text” function. You may also search the entire site using our “Site Search” function. 

Annotations

Modern editions of our texts contain two levels of annotative notes. The first level provides a brief explanation of words and phrases. The second level provides a more in-depth discussion of the issues the passage raises. 

To view the annotations, select "Show notes on the text" from the left-hand toolbox. All annotated words and phrases in the text will be underlined. Select an underlined word or phrase to open a pop-up window with the annotation. For your convenience, the pop-up windows can be dragged around the page, and enlarged or shrunk with the [+] or [-] button in the top corner.  Multiple annotation windows can be opened at once. To close the window, click on the link again or on the [x] button in the top corner of the popup.

Not all of our modern texts have annotations, but our editors are working hard to prepare their notes to include in every text.

Friends of the ISE can generate a print-ready view of the annotations by selecting “Print all notes” from the toolbox. 

Collations and Variants

The ISE provides a way of viewing all major variants between the most important versions of a text. In some cases, early versions differ one from another, sometimes by just a word or two, sometimes by whole passages. Versions may also differ due to errors that are the equivalent of our modern typos. 

To access a collation of the text (one which shows all the variants), select "Show variants” from the left-hand toolbox. Words or passages with variants will be underlined. To see all the variants side-by-side in the text itself, select "Display variants inline" from the Toolbox. Different versions of the text will be distinguished by color. In either view, click on an underlined or colored phrase to open a pop-up window that lists all the variants and their sources.  For your convenience, the pop-up windows can be dragged around the page, and enlarged or shrunk with the [+] or [-] button in the top corner.  Multiple annotation windows can be opened at once. To close the window, click on the link again or on the [x] button in the top corner of the popup.

Textual Analysis

Several other analysis tools are available by selecting "Textual analysis tools" from the Toolbox. Expand or limit the analysis to specific editions by choosing the text(s) (F1 for the first folio, M for the modern version) to be analyzed, and then select a tool from the menu. 

Each analysis tool generates a specific view of or statistics about each play. Show all the speeches for a single character, with cue lines, by selecting “Character Scroll.” This view is ideal for performers preparing for a role. View the number of times each character speaks in each section of the text by selecting “Character Appearance.” Ideal for collecting quantitative data, the "Section Statistics" option displays the number of stage directions, number of speeches, average speech length, and the longest speech lines in each act and scene. Generate the number of lines spoken by each actor arranged by act and scene by selecting the “Lines Spoken Statistics.”  

For more information about our collection of texts, visit the Plays and Poems homepage. 

We welcome your feedback! Contact us to submit questions, comments, and ideas.