The Wörterbuch der tibetischen Schriftsprache has the objective to present the vocabulary from a linguistic-historical perspective. Essentially, it is based on two groups of sources: Tibetan original sources and local dictionaries.
The Tibetan source texts cover a time period from the 8th to the 19th century and include all literary genres. In decades-long work, they were analysed in Munich. The local dictionaries were composed in Tibetan-Sanskrit or Tibetan-Tibetan. Findings recorded in specialist publications, especially the ones in Tibetological text editions including glossaries are taken into consideration as well.
The entries in the Wörterbuch der tibetischen Schriftsprache are arranged according to the Tibetan alphabet (for details see Article Structure).
A special feature of the Munich dictionary should be pointed out: It does not only provide information on the meaning but also cites for each entry, if possible, instances from source texts in Tibetan and translates them to German. Within a given lemma, the sources are listed in chronological order, and they also provide quotations from various literary genres. Taken into account are semantic changes, orthographical and grammatical versions as well as sentence constructions. For the first time, the dictionary presents the development of words in historical and literary context, thus becoming a fundamental work for the research of Tibetan language history.
Since 2005, the dictionary is published in continuous fascicles. Since 2020, parts of the dictionary are also available online.