Much of the success of modern dictionaries depends on the accessibility of their macro- and microstructural information. In order to evaluate the methods which lexicographers employ to improve dictionary accessibility, the concept of guide structures was introduced by Hausmann and Wiegand (1989). Since the appearance of that article, various academics have written articles and read papers on guide structures in print dictionaries, but few studies have focussed on the tremendous potential of guide structures in electronic dictionaries. In this article it will be shown that electronic dictionaries add dimensions to the implementation of guide structures not possible in print versions. The role of two of the guide structures in the transfer of information in CD-ROM dictionaries will be discussed. The access and mediostructures of the Microsoft Encarta World English Dictionary and the Elektroniese Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal will be analysed and critically evaluated to illustrate the advantages of electronic dictionaries over print dictionaries and the urgent need for metalexicographical discussion of this publication medium.
Keywords: access structure, active cross-references, cd-rom dictionary, dictionary accessibility, encyclopaedic dictionary, guide structures, inner access structure, inner search path, internet, mediostructure, multimedia, outer access structure, outer search path, passive crossreferencing, user-friendliness