California Institute of Technology
Einstein Papers Project

What We Do


Editorial Method

The following presents the editorial method of the series and incorporates modifications and supplements that have been introduced in previous volumes.

History of The Edition

Volume 1, The Early Years, 1879–1902, presented a variety of documents pertaining to Albert Einstein's family, childhood, and youth. Subsequently, the edition was divided into two series, Writings and Correspondence.

The five Writings volumes covering the years 1900–1921 (volumes 2–4, 6, 7) present in full text all of Einstein’s articles, books, and unpublished scientific manuscripts, including his notes as a student of physics, lecture notes for university courses that he taught, and research notes. Auditors' lecture notes, verbatim or in abstract, that supplement Einstein's course notes, as well as reliable records of his lectures, speeches, comments, or interviews, are included as full text or in abstract. All available letters written by Einstein before January 1922 are presented in full or as abstracts in the six Correspondence volumes for the years 1902–1921 (volumes 5, 8–10, 12).

A Cumulative Index, Bibliography, List of Correspondence, Chronology, and Errata to Volumes 1–10 was published as Volume 11.

Beginning with the current volume, the edition will present Einstein's writings and correspondence together in the same volumes, in chronological order. This format will facilitate a contextual understanding of Einstein’s life and work.


Einstein Envelope

All of Albert Einstein's writings and correspondence, whether previously published or unpublished, are included in the edition, either as full text with annotation, as an appendix, or as an abstract.

Prefaces to collective editions in whose composition Einstein took an active part are printed in full. Einstein's prefaces to works other than his own, or to translations of his own work, are generally presented in abstract.

When significant, statements cited in an interview and presented in an unbroken block of text without interjections from the interviewer are presented as full texts. Other interviews that contain substantial blocks of quotations by Einstein, but are in the more typical interview format, or juxtapose Einstein’s various pronounce- ments on a subject, are placed in an appendix (see, e.g., Appendix G).

All available letters are presented in full, or as an abstract in the Calendar of Abstracts. Letters addressed to more than one recipient are printed only once.

Authors and dates of known but unavailable letters are cited; if only an excerpt of a significant original letter is available, it is printed in full.

Einstein became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics (KWIP) in October 1917, and his correspondence in that capacity is substantial. Unless of par- ticular significance for the understanding of Einstein’s deliberations or actions, all letters to and from Einstein in his capacity as a member of the board of directors (Direktorium) of the KWIP, or from him to the board of trustees (Kuratorium) and to other members of the board of directors of the KWIP, as well as all third-party documentation of his role as director of the KWIP, are summarized in the Calendar, as are routine financial and administrative exchanges with Einstein, grant applica- tions, and correspondence with publishers and translators.

Einstein’s postscripts that serve only to extend greetings, have no independent character, or are appended to letters by other authors are abstracted in the Calendar.

On occasion, third-party letters and other documents (such as certificates and of- ficial reports) that are important for understanding Einstein’s development, milieu, and public activities are printed in whole, in part, or in summary. After completing the publication of documents pertaining to Einstein’s Berlin period, which ends in early 1933, all remaining undated documents and fragments that can be dated only to an approximate span of several years within that period (1914–1933) will be published together in supplementary volumes, observing the above selection criteria.

Establishment of Texts

Einstein Letter

It is our general policy to work initially from a photocopy of a manuscript or typewritten text, and then to perfect our transcription against the original, if available. If neither the original nor a photocopy is available, we base our text on a previously transcribed or printed version. If more than one such version is available, we select the one that in our opinion agrees most closely with features characteristic of the author's style, orthography, and punctuation, departing from the text only to correct unambiguous typographical errors.

In the case of published items, we take the first version published in the original language as our primary text. Variations in later editions of Einstein’s publications that were prepared during his lifetime are noted. If an original manuscript is available, small differences are recorded in endnotes. If the manuscript diverges substantially from the printed version, the dissimilar portions of the manuscript are presented as a separate text, preceding the printed version. When no manuscript, typescript, or printed version in the original language is available, a published translation is used. If in addition to a German original text, a translation into a different language was authorized by Einstein as the first or only published version, both versions of the text are printed. Where a set of discussion fragments in Einstein's hand exists, these will serve as the source of a text, rather than the published version of those remarks.

Significant variations in all available texts will be noted.



With some exceptions as noted below, all texts are presented chronologically. In the case of undated documents to which a date range has been attributed by the editors, the earliest date determines their position in the volume. An undated text enclosed with, or inserted in, a document follows the latter, unless evidence suggests a different placement.

Where a document is enclosed with a letter that serves only as a cover letter, with no independent character of its own, the two items are presented together. Documents that have come to the attention of the editors after the publication of the volume in which they would have appeared as a matter of chronology are presented at the front of a subsequent volume.

Within a given volume, each document is given a sequential number. Where the original or a copy of the original is not available, transcriptions of text fragments from dealer or auction catalogs are presented, if available, together with interspersed editorial comments.

Repetitious text fragments and unrelated text or equations appearing in a draft are omitted, but their existence is mentioned in the descriptive note. Original drawings are scanned in or redrawn. For the improvement of legibility, some facsimiles will be digitally restored by the editors.

German, French, or Italian language passages from a draft quoted in the endnotes as text variants are not translated in the endnotes. Translations are only provided if a passage is quoted for the purpose of commentary.

Editorial comments on a set of discussion fragments, which together comprise a document, are set in a smaller font size to distinguish them from the text. The editorial comments precede the Einstein text and also serve to summarize the content of a paper, lecture, address, or statement to which the Einstein text is a response.

References to significant events in Einstein's life and work and general chronological information not available in specific documents are contained in the Chronology.

An Alphabetical List of Texts, Calendar of Abstracts, Chronology, Appendixes, Literature Cited, Index, and Index of Citations are presented at the end of each volume.



Einstein Tapes

Published writings are presented in the order of their completion, submission, reception, or publication, whichever is available in this order. These writings are introduced by a title page that contains (a) the document number; (b) an English title; (c) the document’s short title ascribed by the editors according to the date of publication and used in the Literature Cited; (d) the date of completion, if known; otherwise the date of submission, reception, or publication; (e) the source of the published version; (f) republished versions of the text with revisions or annotations that can be ascribed to Einstein.

Each text is presented in facsimile and includes the original pagination, note placement, and running heads. Parts of texts not relevant to this edition but appearing on the same page as Einstein’s text are reproduced in a lighter type.

If an original text of a later supplement to a paper was printed immediately following the paper, then this presentation is retained. Both dates are noted in the List of Texts, on the relevant title page, and in a textual note.

Editorial endnotes are indicated by consecutive numbers in square brackets placed in the margins of texts, directly adjacent to the line containing the passage or equation upon which the note comments. Annotation begins after the last page of each full text document.

Unpublished manuscripts are given a title that is either a translation of the original title or a title given by the editors. Its presentation begins on a new page and otherwise follows the rules for the presentation of letters explained below.


Letters are titled by the name of the author or recipient other than Einstein; Einstein's name as author or recipient is omitted.

For any single date, outgoing letters by Einstein are presented first, followed by incoming letters. They are presented in alphabetical order by receiver or sender.

Einstein Handwriting

For Einstein's outgoing correspondence, the recipient’s address is placed in the descriptive note. For incoming correspondence, all handwritten, printed, or typed letterheads are placed in the descriptive note. If address information is repeated at the foot of a document, it is omitted from the transcribed text. Printed information on an otherwise handwritten document or on the verso of a postcard is generally omitted.

A dateline is placed flush right above the text, regardless of its position in the original. Editorial additions or corrections to the dateline are placed in square brackets. Date uncertainties are indicated by question marks. The designation "circa," abbreviated "ca.," indicates uncertainty within a few units of the designated day, month, or year.

The salutation is placed flush left beneath the dateline, and the first paragraph is indented. The first word in the first paragraph is usually capitalized. Each letter is followed by a descriptive note which consists of a descriptive symbol (see Descriptive Symbols, pp. xciv–xcv) and the location of the original (in parentheses). If no provenance is specified, the source is the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. If the location is unknown, the source of the photocopy or transcript used is given. For symbols of documentary repositories, see Location Symbols (pp. xci–xciii).They are followed by previous publication data; the archival call number assigned to the letter in the Albert Einstein Archives, within square brackets; a transcription of the letterhead and the addressee; a note commenting on textual or physical characteristics of an original when they affect legibility—whether it is cropped, perforated, obscured, or incomplete. If a source from which one or more texts are drawn (e.g., a notebook or an official report) contains additional material, that material is briefly described at this point; such omitted material may be published elsewhere in the edition. Textual features such as original pagination and instructions to turn a page are silently omitted. In the case of postcards or envelopes, a transcription of address and sender lines, a description of the postmark, and a note about the contents of a docketed postmark are included if the date cannot be established otherwise.

Signatures are placed flush right. Postscripts are placed flush left beneath the signature.

Editorial endnotes, indicated by raised Arabic numerals enclosed in square brackets, follow the descriptive note.

The Calendar of Abstracts includes in chronological order any letters that are not presented as full texts. The entries summarize the contents of the document in question and provide their provenance (see the introductory paragraph in the Calendar of Abstracts for a more detailed description).


We aim in our transcriptions to maintain substantial faithfulness to the original texts. No corrections, additions, deletions, or changes of characters, punctuation, or arrangement are made except as set forth below.

Einstein Transcription

Non-Latin scripts are transcribed into Latin type, with the exception of Cyrillic. In transcribing Japanese texts, diacritical marks are used when they appear in original texts but are neglected in annotations.

Indentation is made where an author used a vertical line to indicate a new paragraph, where the paragraphing is ambiguous but was probably intended, and where the author’s style is to start a new paragraph by placing the first line flush with the left margin.

A closure in a letter is printed as one continuous text, and commas are silently provided in a closure where appropriate.

Unusual or confusing abbreviations are expanded within square brackets. Where letters are obscured or difficult to read, a probable reading is placed within square brackets, with an assumption of correct spelling, grammar, and syntax. Where no probable reading is possible, for each illegible word three dashes within square brackets are inserted. When the author uses square brackets, it is noted. Author's deletions deemed insignificant are omitted without comment. Those deemed significant are placed within angle brackets preceding the revised text. The text of a deletion within a deletion is crossed out within the angle brackets. If a portion of a text greater than one line has been deleted as a whole, the deletion is noted by a diagonal line running from the upper left to the lower right. When the author cancels part of an equation for calculational purposes, this is noted with a diagonal line running from the lower left to the upper right. In mathematical research notes and calculations, deletions and cancellations may also be given graphically in a way that imitates the original.

Superscript and subscript interlineations are brought down to the line; interlineations are noted when significant.

Authors' emendations are silently inserted into the flow of the text; where placement is significant, or where the emendation serves as a comment on the text but does not fit in seamlessly with the main text, the emendation is noted in endnotes. Words or sentences marked by the author for insertion, but physically placed elsewhere on the page, are silently inserted into the text, unless significant information may be lost. Passages not clearly marked for insertion are placed at the end of the document, with a note indicating the original placement.

Facsimiles of diagrams are inserted into the transcription as close to the original placement as the layout of the page allows.

Text omissions are indicated by ellipses in square brackets.

In typed documents, typographical errors are retained. In overstrikes, the letter spacing is conventionalized.

In the dateline of outgoing letters, Einstein's Berlin street address is omitted. Towns and cities underlined in addresses at the head of documents and on envelopes and postcards are transcribed without the lines.

Underscored words are italicized.

Words in all-capitalized letters are rendered with first-letter capitalization. When two parallel dashes (short "equal sign") were used to indicate a hyphen, they are rendered as a hyphen.

Einstein Papers Project

Einstein Papers Project

Einstein’s handwritten abbreviation symbol for the conjunction “and” is transcribed as an ampersand.

The double consonants "mm" and "nn" abbreviated by placing a bar over the single consonant, as well the abbreviated endings "ung" and "ungen," are transcribed in full.

The use of "J" for "I" in typed originals or transcriptions is rendered in its modern usage, "I." As Einstein does not differentiate between a Latin "I" and a gothic "I," both are rendered in Latin, except where otherwise indicated in scientific notation.

When combinations of gothic and roman "s" are used to indicate "ß," they are transcribed as "ß." However, when they are used to indicate both "ß" and "ss" (e.g., as written by Maja Winteler-Einstein), they are transcribed as "ss." The old convention of separating with an apostrophe an adjectival indicator of a proper name from the name itself is modernized: for example, "Tetrode'sche" is rendered "Tetrodesche."

Where lack of punctuation might prove confusing in understanding a passage, an extra space is inserted in the text. Quotation marks are transcribed according to conventional usage in each language. Where Einstein uses a superscript × and an * for the same purpose, it is uniformly rendered as *.

Spaced type ("Sperrdruck") in the original is rendered in italics, except in proper names, where it is rendered in roman font with first-letter capitalization. Proper names in all capital letters are transcribed with first-letter capitalization. Where place names or official phrases appear in italics or in all capital letters in the salutation, dateline, or closure of an original, they are rendered in roman font with first-letter capitalization.


The Introduction and Editorial Notes discuss the content and context of a text or significant themes common to several texts.

The annotation to documents presented as full text elucidates references to persons, places, scientific developments, organizations, events, and literary references that were familiar to the author and to the intended audience of a text, but not necessarily to the current reader; wherever possible, contemporaneous sources are cited for such information. Endnotes are also used to correct factual errors in the text, to identify words or phrases given in dialect or in foreign languages, and to comment on textual problems such as confusing spelling, ambiguous prose, and illegible passages. Corrections or emendations in a hand other than the author’s are omitted from the text, but included as endnotes if significant.


In undated texts, an endnote to the bracketed dateline explains the dating. Editors' references to page numbers of documents reproduced in facsimile always refer to the original pagination.

References to Einstein's writings are cited by author and date (in case of papers these are given as the "permanent short title"), as well as by volume and document number.

References to letters published in earlier volumes of The Collected Papers cite the names of author and recipient, the date, volume, and document number.

Bibliographic references are cited by author and date ("short titles"). These citations with full bibliographic information are listed alphabetically in the Literature Cited section at the end of each volume. This Literature Cited does not constitute a complete bibliography of all extant secondary works on Einstein.

If a cited printed document is also in Einstein's personal library, it is so noted.