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I'm currently encoding a city archive with death, birth, and marital certificates, I'm encoding names, dates, etc. my problem is this: I want the rendered text to be true to the original (linebreaks etc) so I encode every line with the <l>-element, but now I've encountered a refering string which spreads across two lines, how do I encode this since the </rs>-tag can't be placed after the </l>-tag
<l>citoyens, font comparus en la maison Commune, <name type="person" reg="Jean Pierre Haenegraef">Jean Pierre</l>
This is not really the correct usage for the <l> element. which is defined as containing lines *of verse*, not typographic lines. The easiest solution to your problem is to use the empty <lb/> element to mark the beginning of each written line.
<lb/>citoyens, font comparus en la maison Commune, <name type="person" reg="Jean Pierre Haenegraef">Jean Pierre
Your processing software will have to do more work but the result will be valid TEI.
Incidentally, the @reg attribute you are using is not available in TEI P5. You might like to check out the improved facilities (@key and @ref) offered by TEI P5 to deal with problems of normalisation