Each feature dataset is accompanied by an introductory chapter. You can browse the Atlas for some examples.

It can be convenient to write a draft in a google doc in your feature folder, but ultimately the text will have to be formatted in Rmarkdown. You can download a template for formatting a chapter here and the cheat sheet here.

Structure of the text

Below is a list of recommended sections and points to address in the text.


  • Briefly explains what the feature is
  • Gives a general characterization of how it is expressed in East Caucasian
  • Gives a general characterization of how it is expressed cross-linguistically
  • If applicable: describes how the classification in TALD differs from WALS (e.g. our chapter on the Standard of Comparison shows more sub-types of spatial comparatives)
  • Describes the goal of the text / map in one sentence: “Our goal is to classify the languages of Daghestan according to the type of spatial form used to mark the standard of comparison.”


  • Summarizes the different types/values you discovered; types identified in the text should correspond to values shown on the map. If you want to fuse multiple types into one category, be sure to explain this decision in the text.

A hypothetical example:
Comparative constructions are usually based on spatial case forms, which consist of a localization and a directionality. Let’s say Chiara only cares about directionality, because differences in localization occur more rarely and do not show an interesting distribution. She can choose to create general categories based on directionality (e.g. essive and elative), and mention in her text that elative includes both super-elative and cont-elative forms.

  • Provide examples
  • Identify which types are more or less common


  • Does the distribution of different types show a genealogical and / or areal signal?

Literature references

For the chapter, you will have to compile your own list of references using this table template.

The references should be in bibtex format. You can find a list of entry types and their arguments here. Our literature database is an example of a table of references in bibtex format.

When adding values to the TITLE and BOOKTITLE fields, you need to surround capital letters that are not at the beginning of the word with curly brackets, for example Volume {IV}. This is necessary so that such cases do not change to Volume Iv after rendering.

In case you cite a source from our library in your chapter, all you have to do is copy the information from the literature database to your own table.

When you are done, upload the table with references to your feature folder using the following filenaming convention: name of your feature *_bib*, e.g. standard_of_comparison_bib. Note that the column headers should be in uppercase.

The table will be converted to a .bib file for the website automatically.


Avoid spending a lot of time on formatting examples and compiling lists of abbreviations and references in your google doc draft version. Ultimately you will have to format your text in Rmarkdown, which will do a lot of the more annoying work for you.

Don’t be scared if you are not very experienced with R: all you need to format a chapter is R + RStudio and our chapter template.