The Walt Whitman Archive's goal is to encode and to provide digital images of all the documents in Whitman's vast oeuvre, including manuscripts, letters, notebooks, daybooks, and published work. We do this by providing machine-readable transcriptions of manuscript and published items. Basically, a transcription is a typed representation of a text in plain text characters, which is then later marked up in XML in order to be displayed on a webpage.

A staff member transcribes and encodes the text and validates the markup against the Archive's encoding standard. As the transcription is prepared, it is added to the tracking database, and subsequent editorial interaction with the manuscript image and transcription takes place through the tracking database files. A more senior staff member or editor then reviews, corrects, and verifies the encoding and transcription by proofreading against the image. He or she flags for review textual cruxes, uncertain encodings, etc.