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A Guide To...Critical Editions

Starting points for learning about and using classical critical editions at College of the Holy Cross
Welcome! This guide is designed to get you started with.... 
  • Recognizing important characteristics of critical or scholarly editions;
  • Identifying and defining important terms related to scholarly editing;
  • Distinguishing between scholarly and non-scholarly editions;
  • Interpreting a critical apparatus.

Getting Started

Catalog Search Tips

Searching for books is often best done by either Keywords or Subject Headings. Start with a Keyword search and identify some relevant books. Use the Classic Catalog or CrossSearch to search for books. Some suggested keywords include...

"critical editing"
"scholarly editing"
"scholarly publishing"
"textual criticism"
"textual scholarship

Then look at the subject headings for the books that you find. You can follow the subject heading links in the catalog to find similar books, or you can use the terms in the subject headings to revise your search strategies.

Examples of subject headings:

Bibliography, Critical.

Criticism, Textual.


Scholarly publishing.

Transmission of texts.

Books at Dinand Library are arranged by Library of Congress Call Number. Call Numbers are used to find books in the library. Each book is assigned a call number made  up of letters and numbers, which acts like an address and tells you what shelves to look on.

  • Reference Books are in the Main Reading Room. These books must stay in the library.
  • Books whose numbers begin with letters A through G are on the Mezzanine level (1 floor down from the Main Reading Room).
  • Books whose numbers begin with letters H through Z are mostly on the Ground (bottom) level.
  • Books whose numbers begin with are in the Music Library in Brooks Hall.
  • Books whose numbers begin with Q, R, S or are in the Science Library in Swords Hall.

See the handout attached below to learn more about how the library is organized, and where you should begin looking for books.

You can also watch  this video  to learn more about how call numbers work. Or, check out the Library of Congress Classification Outline for a detailed breakdown of our call number system. 


In general, critical editions will be shelved with literature for their subject area. So, for example, a critical edition of a Latin text would be located in the same area as all of the other Latin literature. Generally speaking, you can find Ancient Greek literature in call number range PA3050 to PA4505, and Latin literature between PA5000 to PA5660.  

Suggested Reading

These books are solid introductions to concepts and problems related to scholarly editing and critical editions. 


This guide was originally created in 2011 under the supervision of Kevin Gunn, Coordinator of Religious Studies & Humanities Services. The guide was designed for the use of the Religious Studies & Philosophy Library at The Catholic University of America. It has been copied and adapted with permission, and with many thanks!