Drafting is the preparation of the text of a dictionary entry in a preliminary form, which is subsequently reviewed and revised.
The starting point for every entry is the collected evidence. Looking at each quotation in its context helps us to find out what the word in question means. As research and drafting proceed, we group quotations together into similar meanings or senses, and these are in turn grouped and ordered to form the overall entry. Within this process, we aim to give a definition for each sense of each word and to be as precise as possible about what the word means that allows to it appear in the contexts where we have found it. Each entry starts with the basic meaning of a word and is built up in a logical order of senses. Often, related specialist senses, like usage in legal or medical texts, are grouped together within an entry. (When dealing with technical terms we regularly ask specialists for guidance.)
In parallel with the preparation of definitions we select quotations to illustrate the senses we have identified. We aim to provide representative evidence of the use of a word in any given sense and to document all the spellings we have found of each word.
Etymology is also a crucial part of the drafting process. We examine the history of a word and especially where it entered the Medieval Latin language from, and we use what we find to determine the grouping of quotations into entries, to decide the headword form or forms for those entries, and to point to the basic or original meaning that the structure of senses should begin with.
We use an XML-based electronic system to support all aspects of our drafting work. Using this editors create fully and consistently formatted entries. They can also, as necessary, manage notes on individual entries, senses, and quotations relating to the research that has been done or remains to be done.