Readers of this book do not need to know the languages or scripts of the ancient Near East; although contributors sometimes use ancient words or texts, they alway provide English translations. The languages written in cuneiform script may be rendered alphabetically in two different ways: transliteration, which is an alphabetic representation of cuneiform signs; and transcription or normalization (these words are synonymous), which is an alphabetic representation of the language that does not give any information about the signs used to write the original text.
In alphabetic normalization in this book, we write both Sumerian and Akkadian words just like any foreign language: in italics with no hyphens or full stops or superscripts (e.g. Akkadian ṭupšarru ‘scribe’ and Sumerian sanga-priest).
In transliterations of Akkadian, the syllabic signs are presented in lower-case italics and separated by hyphens (e.g. ṭu-up-šar-ru), while logograms (signs representing whole words) are written in small upper-case letters and separated by full stops (e.g. dub.sar, a logographic writing of ṭupšarru). For transliterations of Sumerian, this book uses lower-case bold face, separating signs with hyphens (e.g. dub-sar ‘scribe’). For both languages, determinatives are written in superscript lower-case, with no connecting punctuation (e.g. lúdub.sar and lúdub-sar). Sign names are transliterated in capital letters, and signs within signs joined with × (e.g. tu₆ = KA×LI = šiptu ‘incantation’, where KA×LI means ‘the sign KA with the sign LI written inside it’).
In transliteration, normalization, and translations, square brackets enclose restorations of missing text, while uncertain translations are marked with question marks or set in italics.
See Veldhuis and Weeden in this volume, and Robson (2009, listed in the references to the Introduction) for more on Assyriologists' typographical conventions for representing cuneiform script.