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Symbols and Abbreviations Used in

Explanatory Notes
Abbreviations and other terms*
| [straight line] page break
4to, 4tos quarto, quartos
a after TLN 1st half or part of a line (see TLN)
Anon., anon. anonymous, sometimes with nom de plume
apud according to, used when a CN comes from someone other than the original author
b after TLN 2nd half or part of a line
BL British Library, London; formerly at the British Museum
Bod. Bodleian Library, Oxford
c. circa (in date); copy (in shelf number)
Cent. Century Dictionary
CN commentary note
conj. conjecture. Not found in the text of an edition; found either in a CN or in a work other than an edition
DP, dp Dramatis Personae, the cast of characters
ed. editor, edition
eds. editors, editions
eds. of Ham. see table of eds. listed by siglum
F forte; strong conjecture in mtby (Thirlby ms. notes) CNs
F Folio
F1 First Folio, 1623
F2 Second Folio, 1632
F3 Third Folio, 1663/64
F4 Fourth Folio, 1685
F. Q. Spenser’s Fairy Queen
Families of Editions
(see editions bibliography for further information)
Many of these families have the same siglum except for a numeral: rowe1, rowe2, rowe3; wilk1, wilk2, etc.
Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, early editions, 1604-1637
F1, F2, F3, F4, folios 1623-1685
Q6, Q7, Q8, Q9, Q10, players’ editions (PQ), 1676-1703
john1, john2, john3, v1773, v1778, v1785, mal, v1793, v1803, v1813, v1821 are all related. Editors include Johnson, Steevens, Malone, Reed and Boswell.
Fol Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, as in mtheo3Folc.1
fol(s). folio(s), i.e. leaf(ves) in ms(s) and early books
fsql weak conjecture in mtby CNs
Ham. Hamlet, the play
Ham. Hamlet, the character
highlight(ed) italics, bold, brackets and other means to emphasize
ital. italics
m before a siglum means manuscript notes
MED Middle English Dictionary
ms(s) manuscript(s)
mtby manuscript notes by Styan Thirlby in eighteenth-century editions
mtby1 notes in a copy of rowe1, missing (reward for discovery)
mtby2 notes in a copy of pope1, Beinecke Library, Yale, New Haven, CT
mtby3 notes in a copy of theo1, Folger Shakespeare Library
mtby4 notes in a copy of warb, Folger Shakespeare Library
nb; n.b. nota bene; note
OED Oxford English Dictionary
P. L. Milton’s Paradise Lost
p., pp. page, pages
Q1 Ham. First Quarto, 1603
Q2 Ham. Second Quarto, some copies dated 1604, others 1605
Q3 Ham. Third Quarto, 1611
Q4 Ham. Fourth Quarto, 1623 (before F1)
Q5 Ham. Fifth Quarto, 1637
Q6 Ham. First Players’ Quarto, 4-line imprint on title page, 1676
Q7 Ham. Second Players’ Quarto, 5-line imprint on title page, 1676
Q8 Ham. Third Players’ Quarto, 1683
Q9 Ham. Fourth Players’ Quarto, 1695
Q10 Ham. Fifth Players’ Quarto, 1703
r recto, the first side of a leaf with signature numbers. See “sig.” and “v” = “verso”
Shakespeare's Plays
Ado Much Ado about Nothing.
Ant. Antony and Cleopatra.
AWW All's Well that Ends Well.
AYL As You Like It.
Cor. Coriolanus.
Cym. Cymbeline.
Err. The Comedy of Errors.
1H4 1 Henry IV.
2H4 2 Henry IV.
H5 Henry V.
1H6 1 Henry VI.
2H6 2 Henry VI.
3H6 3 Henry VI.
H8 Henry VIII.
Ham. Hamlet.
JC Julius Caesar.
Jn. King John.
LLL Love's Labour's Lost.
Lr. King Lear.
Mac. Macbeth.
MM Measure for Measure.
MND A Midsummer Night's Dream
MV The Merchant of Venice.
Oth. Othello.
Per. Pericles.
R2 Richard II.
R3 Richard III.
Rom. Romeo and Juliet.
Shr. The Taming of the Shrew.
TGV Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Tim. Timon of Athens.
Tit. Titus Andronicus.
Tmp. The Tempest.
TN Twelfth Night.
TNK The Two Noble Kinsmen.
Tro. Troilus and Cressida.
Wiv. The Merry Wives of Windsor.
WT The Winter's Tale.
Shakespeare's Poems
LC A Lover's Complaint.
Luc. The Rape of Lucrece.
PhT The Phoenix and Turtle.
PP The Passionate Pilgrim.
Son. The Sonnets.
Ven. Venus and Adonis.
References within CN
xref (cross-reference), references to other TLN in Ham.
// (parallel), reference to Shn poems or plays aside from Ham.
analogue reference to a non-Shn work. If written before Ham., it may or may not be a source for Sh.
S&A source and/or analogue
SD stage direction
Sh. “Shakespeare” and all other spellings
Shn “Shakespearean” and all other spellings
sigla codes used for editions, often an abbreviation of the editor’s name, an abbreviation of the publisher or series name, the number in a series (Q2, Q3, etc.), or the year of publication (especially for variorum editions, v1821, v1877)
sig. signature, combinations of letters and numbers used instead of or in addition to page numbers in early texts, such as 4tos and folios; see recto and verso
SP speech prefix, naming the speaker of what follows
St Statute; stanza
(subst.) substantive(ly). A word found mainly in TNM, in the list of sigla that = Q2, discounting immaterial variants
TCC Trinity College Cambridge, England
TLN Through-Line-Number(s) as in the Hinman First Folio published by Norton, used by permission
TNI textual note, immaterial; see forthcoming textual issues essay for parameters
TNM textual note, material; see forthcoming textual issues essay for parameters
v. vide, see
v verso, the overside of a leaf that has a signature number rather than (or in addition to) page number; see “r” = “recto,” “sig.”
V&A archives at the Victoria and Albert Museum
VN variant note
Wilson, John Dover
MSH Manuscripts of Shakespeare's Hamlet 1934
WHH What Happens in Hamlet 1935
Symbols in Textual Notes (TNI and TNM)
^ punctuation absent
~ in a note saying that punctuation varies: disregarding verbal form of lemma
. . . ellipses, in TNI strings, refer to (as yet) uncollated editions (generally after hud3)
. . . in a TN variant means a significant pause
Explanation of three-part structure of Commentary Notes (CN)1
18572 fieb3
24215 wagge6 ] Fiebig7 (ed. 1857)8 : “To wag, to shake, to move; to wag the tongue against one, to attack him with harsh words, or elsewhere, with ludicrous speech.”9
1858 col3
col3:10 Soames
242211 Collier (ed. 1858): “See an able pamphlet (which we believe we are warranted in imputing to Mr. C. Soames) entitled ‘Hamlet: an Attempt to ascertain whether the Queen were accessory before the fact in the murder of her first Husband,' 1856, 8vo. The point has been contested with some warmth among the commentators, but we entirely concur in the views of the writer of this tract, as to the innocence of the Queen. He avails himself, with excellent judgment, of the new evidence derived from the 4to, 1603, not formerly in the hands of the editors of Shakespeare.”
1805 Seymour12
2424-3113 That . . . glowe] Seymour (1805, pp. 184-514 ): <p.184> “The text, as here exhibited [see TNM], is preferable to that of the quarto, as it gives a stronger and more familiar sense. Both heaven and earth, says Ham- </p.184><p.185> let, are affected at the enormity of what you have done; the sun is inflamed with anger, and the earth, contemplating your unnatural crime, is sorrowful and sick, just as she would be at the approach of the general dissolution of the world.” </p.185>15
Symbols used in Commentary Notes (CN)
[ ] insertion by editors
[[ ]] brackets in the original CN
< >, </> beginning and end of pages, signatures, notes
<n>, </n> beginning and end of notes appended by the author of a CN
<p>, </p> beginning and end of pages; volume numbers, if any, are in parentheses with date after the author’s name
. . . omission of commentary by the editors; sometimes [. . . ] for clarity
Symbols in second line of CN
“=” An equal sign between the CN’s siglum and that of another writer means the two are exactly alike
Note: Generally the work named on the right of the equal sign is the latest that could have been used; often, however, the given work had used some prior ed. For example, mal = v1785 means that Malone might have used v1785 or any prior edition in the Johnson-Steevens family of editions that is the same as v1785 (e.g. v1773, v1778)
“≈” an approximate sign means the named works are equivalent
“without attribution,” found in 2nd line of some commentary notes, means that the idea is equivalent to (≈) or that the exact wording comes from (=) a prior source, which is not credited. For various reasons, without attribution may not mean plagiarism. For example,
1) it might not be the work’s practice to assign credit for notes. This is true of many school editions;
2) the similarity may be accidental or the gloss may have become standard, a word that can sometimes be found in the second line.
When writers assign attributions for some CNs but not others, they imply (sometimes misleadingly) that unattributed ideas are their own.
“:” a colon means the work to its left refers to that on the right of the punctuation
“; ” a semi-colon separates items in a list of references when necessary for clarity
* Many of the symbols derive from our work on the New Variorum Hamlet edition, in process, for which we acknowledge the general editors and the New Variorum Handbook.
1 Reach CN by clicking on line number in the Browse section of the web site or in the Enfolded Hamlet.
2 Date of publication or writing of note; when the date is uncertain, a minus sign before a date means before and including the date, while a minus sign after the date means the given date and after.
3 The siglum (plural sigla), or code name of the edition.
4 The siglum repeated in hanging style; the absence of other sigla means that Fiebig’s note is original, as far as we know. This second line offers a rough genealogy of the CN’s descent, or genealogy.
5 Through Line Number of CN (see Enfolded Hamlet, “Introduction”).
6 The lemma, the word or phrase at issue. The bracket after it indicates that it comes from Q2, our basic text. A lemma without a bracket indicates that it comes from Q1 or F1 or later edition.
7 The full surname of the editor. Double click on the name for a record of all the occurrences of that name in CNs. See editions bibliography (not yet available) for publishing information.
8 (ed. 1857): this CN is from a Hamlet edition published in 1857.
9 The quotation marks indicate an exact quotation. We sometimes paraphrase entries after 1877.
10 Colon after siglum in 2nd line indicates that the author refers to another work or writer.
11 No lemma means that the note concerns the whole line.
12 The absence of small caps indicates the source is not an edition.
13 The note concerns a range of lines; if the range does not include whole lines, the first and last words concerned in the note are given,
14 Most works that are not editions have page references. Exceptions are dictionaries and works arranged by topic. Forthcoming are an alphabetically arranged bibliography, a bibliography of bibliographies, and a bibliography of dictionaries and glossaries.
15 When there is more than one page reference in a CN, the beginning <p. 184> and end </p. 184> of pages are indicated so that users who quote the material may refer to correct pages.