While researching the evidence for a word we begin to develop a picture of its broad range of meanings and usages, including, for instance, the period, text types, and contexts in which it is found, the other words with which it often appears, the other words to which it is related, and so on. Using this kind of information as a guide, we will prepare a draft entry by working systematically through the collected evidence. We do this by establishing the etymology and the headword or ‘lemma’ form for the item, separating and defining the distinctive senses that can be identified, structuring their presentation, and selecting a suitable range of quotations to illustrate the usage. When appropriate, related words (e.g. adjectives and their derived adverbs) are treated in ways that respect the linguistic relationships.
Frequently in the course of this process we find further areas for research and so we seek additional evidence (e.g. by checking an original manuscript or by looking for other earlier or later quotations) to clarify what has already been found or will consult specialists in the relevant area.
Once the initial draft of a set of entries is complete they undergo an intensive process of review and revision, designed to ensure not only the accuracy of the Dictionary but also its helpfulness to its users.