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HoP content and format
The basic aim of the Handbook is to provide easy access, for scholars with widely divergent backgrounds but with converging interests in the use and functioning of language, to the different topics, traditions and methods which, together, make up the field of pragmatics, broadly conceived as the cognitive, social, and cultural study of language and communication. For detailed information about the scientific scope, read the Introduction to the Handbook of Pragmatics online.

The Handbook is not intended as a textbook, nor as a forum for new research, but as a state-of-the-art report. The governing principle of the Handbook is that it will not be a once-and-for-all ready presentation of what goes on in the field of pragmatics, but that it is to be a continuously updated reference work. In principle this will be a process taking place over an indefinite time span. Updating does not imply that earlier research and ideas will be discarded as soon as they become less fashionable. Rather, the growth of the field should be progressively recorded. Just as history is treated with due respect, so is an attempt being made to avoid an unwarranted geographical bias. Though the Handbook is published in English, a conscious effort is made not to restrict the treatment of topics, methods, and traditions to an Anglo-American context.

The main body of the paper version of the Handbook is in a loose-leaf format. It was preceded by a bound Handbook Manual which contains overviews of linguistic traditions and methods (updating of which now becomes easy thanks to the online version). The paper version of the Handbook is sold on a subscription basis, starting with the Manual as the first installment. For the online version, both individual and site licences are available. 

The structure of the Handbook of Pragmatics 
The paper version of the Handbook consists of two parts: 

The Manual.
 Published in 1995; a clothbound book containing:
  • a general introduction on 'The pragmatic perspective' by Jef Verschueren (in order to give you a good idea of the precise scope of the Handbook, and of the range of topics of interest to IPrA in general, this article can be consulted in the Handbook of Pragmatics online)  
  • articles on linguistic and related traditions relevant to pragmatics
  • articles on linguistic methods
  • articles on notational systems  
Annual installments. In 1995 the publication was started of the main body of the Handbook, consisting of detailed articles of various sizes -- the average size of an article being ca. 5,000 to 10,000 words. The articles range in generality: some give a general overview of a particular field, others discuss a specific topic in quite some detail. There are also biographical entries on scholars relevant to the field of pragmatics. Articles present a state-of-the-art overview of what has been done on the topic. Often they also mention what has not been dealt with extensively (e.g. acquisitional and diachronic aspects), thus suggesting topics for further research. Important research in progress may also be mentioned. In addition, some references to major works are always provided. This main body of the Handbook is organized around entry-like key-words, alphabetically presented. Articles are not consecutively paginated, because of the loose-leaf format. Every new installment is accompanied by an updated user's guide (also loose-leaf). This guide also cross-references to the Handbook Manual and serves as a complete reference guide.

Table of contents
An up-to-date table of contents can always be found in the Handbook of Pragmatics online.