Concordancing is one of the most basic tasks in corpus inspection and analysis as it allows a selective and structured view on corpus data. The KWIC (key-word-in-context) concordance is probably the most widely-known and used type of concordance and is extremely useful as it offers the user a view of the data that can reveal interesting patterns underlying the context of occurrence of any lexical item. Concordancing is by no means a new approach to linguistic and textual data. The oldest concordances date back as far as the Middle Ages; the earliest specimen are hand-crafted concordances of the Bible. Later concordances of non-religious texts include for example concordances of important literary works such as the works of William Shakespeare. For a brief survey of the history of concordancing, see links below.

Among the software that allows users to query and inspect electronic corpora, programs that can generate concordances from a corpus based on user queries are probably among those users encounter early on in their corpus work. Concordancing software typically offers a variety of functions including most basically a query language allowing the user to query the corpus for single words or phrases, a functionality for creating word lists (alphabetical, frequency, reverse etc.), sometimes additional functions such as context or collocation query, key word analysis etc.

The following table offers a list of popular concordancing software that are discussed in these tutorials at various levels of detail.

Concordancing software

Software Developer Licence Description
AntConc Lawrence Anthony Licence
SimpleConcordance Program Alan Reed Licence
Concordancer for Windows 3.0 (WConcord) Institut für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft, TU Darmstadt
WordSmith Tools 7.0 Mike Scott commercial (OUP)
IMS Open CorpusWorkbench open source
ANNIS2 SFB 632 Information Structure - Project D1 open source