A SINGLE manuscript is chosen as the basis of each text, and neither its readings nor its spellings are altered if they can reasonably be defended. Where correction involves substitution, the substituted letters are printed in italics, and the actual reading of the manuscript will be found in the Footnotes (or occasionally in the Notes). Words or letters added to complete the manuscript are enclosed in caret brackets 〈 〉. Corrupt readings retained in the text are indicated by daggers † †. Paragraphing, punctuation, capitals, and the details of word division are modern, and contractions are expanded without notice, so that the reader shall not be distracted by difficulties that are purely palaeographical. A final e derived from OFr. é(e) or ie, OE. -ig, is printed é, to distinguish it from unaccented final e which is regularly lost in Modern English.
The extracts have been collated with the manuscripts, or with complete photographs, except Nos. IV (Thornton MS.), VIII b, XI a, and XVII, the manuscripts of which I have not been able to consult. The foot-notes as a rule take no account of conjectural emendations, variants from other manuscripts, or minutiae like erasures and corrections contemporary with the copy.