Although it is an essential tool for analyzing imagery, themes, and style as well as for locating specific passages, a concordance must be used with due regard for its editor’s choice and handling of the base text(s). Specifically, researchers must evaluate the following:

Those using a concordance for extensive analysis of an author or work will do well to spend an hour with Howard-Hill, Literary Concordances (U5680).

Some concordances are listed in Brewer, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Other Word-Related Books (U6020).

General Introductions


Howard-Hill, T. H. Literary Concordances: A Guide to the Preparation of Manual and Computer Concordances. Oxford: Pergamon, 1979. 97 pp. Z695.92.H68 802′.8′5.

An examination of the principles and practices of editing a concordance, with discussions of selection and preediting of a base text, arrangement of entries, organization of entries under headwords, selection of entries, statistical information, preliminary and subsidiary matter (such as statistical tables), and special forms of concordances. Concludes with an appendix by Robert L. Oakman on the now-outdated COCOA program, a selective bibliography, and a glossary. Indexed by persons and subjects. Although now dated in its treatment of computer hardware and software, Howard-Hill remains the best introduction to the principles and techniques of editing a concordance and is essential reading for both prospective editors and those evaluating published concordances. Reviews: Serge Lusignan, Computers and the Humanities 14.2 (1980): 129–30; Michael J. Preston, English Language Notes 18.4 (1981): 321–24.

See also

Sec. U: Literature-Related Topics and Sources/Computers and the Humanities.