Digital Humanities Guide: Creation



At the heart of humanities research is the descriptive, analytic, or interpretive text that results from working with sources.  For the closely allied fields of the creative and performing arts, the artifact or text is even more central.  Increasingly, too, in the digital age, scholars, researchers, and artists have the opportunity to create and publish content that goes far beyond the traditional work, whether as a supplement to the latter or as a free standing resource making the sources of their field or discussion surrounding them available to a broader community.  For all these reasons, we seek to support the creation of new material, whether through writing, designing, programming, translation, or web development.


  • Word Processors

    For the basic and still central process of scholarly writing, Columbia Libraries provides access to and assistance in using features of Microsoft Word, including its ability to use macros for mass text transformation.

  • Plain Text Editors

    For analytic work and programming, a text editor is usually to be preferred to a word processor, as it produces a machine readable plain text file. A host of these products are available. At Columbia Libraries we recommend and can answer questions about Visual Studio Code by Microsoft.

  • Specialized Markup Editors

    For information for tools for enhancing the power of your texts through structural and analytic markup, see the section on Annotation elsewhere on this site. At the libraries we provide access to oXygen for XML markup.

sound and images

Columbia Libraries makes available or provides support for many tools for creating images, objects, sound files, and designs for publications, we pages, or computer interfaces. some of the most important of which are listed below.

  • Two-dimensional images: Adobe Photoshop (Mac and PC), Gimp (Mac and PC), and Adobe Illustrator (Mac and PC).
  • Three-dimensional images: Auto-CAD (PC), Blender (Mac), and Maya (PC). For other 3-D tools and 3-D printing, consult with our Emer
  • Animated images: Adobe Flash, Adobe After Effects, PowerPoint, Prezi, and the various video editing tools.
  • Page and interface design: Adobe FireWorks, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Visio, Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Powerpoint.
  • Sound and music files: For full support, consult the Digital Music Lab

computer languages

By learning to program, a humanities scholar can create their own scripts or tools for analyzing, transforming, and presenting their sources or their own work. There are dozens of commonly used programming languages, but we list below some of the ones most widely used at Columbia and in digital humanities research in general, which we support and recommend.

  • General purpose and analysis
    • Python
    • R
    • UNIX
  • Web development
    • JavaScript
    • HTML/CSS