site upgrade; new access to a definitive RST document;

William Mann bill_mann at SIL.ORG
Sun Nov 16 21:50:03 UTC 2003

Dear RST List members:

This messages announces some changes in the RST website,  There have been some small changes that simplify the site, but the major change is new access to the definitional description of RST, and new examples for the relations.

As many of you are aware, the definitive publication on RST was an article in Text 8(3), in 1988.  This paper has turned out to be very hard to access for many people.   Also, because of space limitations when it was produced, some of it was much briefer than it could have been. 

That paper was derived (almost entirely by selective deletion)  from a much longer report, a research report submitted to the sponsors (DARPA, NSF and AFOSR). 

  a.. That report is now available in several forms.  It can be purchased on paper or microfiche from the U.S. government.  Details are now on the website and also below.   It can also be purchased from distribution organizations in several European and Asian countries. 

  a.. It can be viewed on the website in a kind of electronic form.  (Unfortunately, the electronic text sources have been lost, and the diagrams were never electronic.  This form is in page scans, which are somewhat awkward, but it is all there.)  Look for a new line on the home page:   Access to RST Documentation. 

  a.. The set of images can be downloaded in a zip file from the same part of the website. 
Examples of the use of all of the relations have been added,  adjacent to the relation definitions. 

In the time since the website was designed, Internet access and search engine capabilities have changed dramatically.  Because access is now so good, keeping the bibliographies up to date is no longer being attempted. The bibliographies that exist will remain on the website.   A much more current array of items can be found by giving Google or some other engine a search string such as

"RST Mann Thompson Rhetorical"

Dozens of RST-related publications continue to appear each year, so the search engines have a particularly up to date view.  Citation index tools are still effective.  RST-related work can be found through both Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index.

If you encounter any problems with accessing the report or with the content of the website,  please let me know.   

Happy reading. 

Bill Mann

Here are details on purchasing the report:

The report is identified as follows: 

      a.. Title: Rhetorical Structure Theory: A Theory of Text Organization 
      b.. Authors: William C. Mann and Sandra A. Thompson 
      c.. Reporting Organization: University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute (ISI) 
      d.. Date: June 1987 
      e.. Report number ISI/RS-87-190 
      f.. NTIS Identifying Number ADA 183038 
 It is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). They can be telephoned at (703) 605-6000, or toll free in the USA and certain other places at 800-553-6847. They can be contacted by email at helpdesk at or on the net at Their identification number for this report is ADA 183038. In the USA, the microfiche form of this report costs about $25; a paper copy is $44.50. Ordering from the US office for overseas delivery, the paper form of this report costs about $80. 

The report can also be purchased from NTIS partner organizations' distribution sites in Canada, Denmark, Finland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Sweden and Taiwan. Details are available on the web site above -- look for International Distribution. Prices are probably different at those sources. 

William C. Mann
bill_mann at
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