EBBA is fully mounted dually in SQL and XML so that the project will be forward-compatible. XML documents, available for download on the “Text Transcription” view for each ballad, were developed in compatibility with TEI standards and include EBBA’s own transcriptions of the ballad text, as well as all relevant bibliographic data and archive metadata. Because these documents mirror all information available in EBBA’s SQL database, they contain a level of detail not immediately visible on the site under the citation page’s catalogue headings. For example, they include data that EBBA has archived to maintain more supple search features, such as modernized ballad titles, together with an accurate history of the archive’s development, such as EBBA editorial credits.

The ballads in EBBA conform to the standards of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). The TEI is maintained by the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, jointly administered by University of Virginia, Brown University, Oxford University, and the University of Bergen. The TEI consortium describes the TEI as “an international and interdisciplinary standard that helps libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars represent all kinds of literary and linguistic texts for online research and teaching, using an encoding scheme that is maximally expressive and minimally obsolescent.” The primary benefits of the TEI, that is, are that it is a non-proprietary text format that minimizes the potential for obsolescence and standardizes the efforts of literary, linguistic, and textual scholars who are engaged in the encoding of electronic texts. TEI tags define elements of a literary text in terms of meaningful and searchable content rather than visual format. Within the EBBA ballad collections, for example, TEI tags identify the poetic and bibliographic elements of ballads explicitly as stanzas, lines, refrains, publisher, author, publication date, and so on.

Since its inception in 1987, the TEI has emerged as the most widely-used international standard for the electronic encoding of scholarly, literary texts. Its standards have been endorsed by the US National Endowment for the Humanities, the Modern Language Association, and the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Board. In Electronic Textual Editing (2006), a volume co-sponsored by the Modern Language Association's Committee on Scholarly Editions and the Text Encoding Initiative, the TEI is described as “the encoding scheme of choice for the production of critical and scholarly editions of literary texts, for electronic text collections in digital libraries, for scholarly reference works and large linguistic corpora, and for the management and production of item-level metadata associated with electronic text and cultural heritage collections of many types.” EBBA relies upon these benefits of the TEI in the development of its own unprecedented cultural heritage collection of broadside ballads.