Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Help: Commentary on Shakespeare's Works

This window gives further information on using the two kinds of annotations our editors provide for a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's works.


Annotations, or notes on the text are available in two levels of detail.

  1. Brief explanations of words and phrases,
  2. In-depth discussions of issues the passage raises.

To access the notes, click on the link [show] beside Annotations. You will see words and phrases underlined in the text: click on these to open a window with the explanation. To close the window, click on the link again, or click on the "close" icon on the notes window (an "X").

You can make the notes window larger for longer notes by clicking on the "grow" button ("+"); click on the "shrink" button ("-") to return to the original size. The window can also be dragged to a different place on your page by clicking on the heading, and dragging. You can have multiple annotation windows open at the same time.

Click [hide] to remove the annotation links.


As our editors work through the original, old-spelling version, they will need to solve a number of puzzles. In some cases, early versions differ one from another, sometimes by whole passages, sometimes by just a word or two. In other cases, the original may be in error, through the equivalent of a modern typo. In all these instances, the editor chooses which version to use, after referring to other important editors who have had to make similar decisions. All major variations are recorded in what are called "collations."

You can access these collations by clicking on the link [show] beside Collations. In the text on the screen you will see, color-coded, the variants inserted in the appropriate place. If you click on one of these, you will see a window like the one for the annotations, listing all the variants and their origings. You can manipluate this window in the same way.

On the left of the menu item Collations, you will see a [+] sign. Click on it to see a list of all the editions that have been collated, showing the color scheme for each.