The Complete Works have been published hitherto in 360 volumes, including a large part of the artistic works. The volumes which have not been published yet demand special intensive care, because it is difficult to piece together the incomplete documentation or records.
The Complete Works have been conceived as a Reading and Study Edition, accompanied by biographical, bibliographical and historical references to the text. It has come into being through decades of work with diverse text bases, very different editorial approaches and scopes.
Due to the fact that Rudolf Steiner gave his lectures speaking freely, he left no handwritten records of his lectures, with the exception of some scattered notes and sketches. The lecture texts we use are written transcripts by listeners (particularly in shorthand). The edited volumes of the Complete Works are therefore based on these written records and only very few lectures and publications have been reviewed by Rudolf Steiner himself. These texts, like other philosophers works (e.g. Aristotles' teachings or Hegel's lectures) have not necessarily been written, nor authorised by the author.
The Rudolf Steiner Verlag (Publishing Press) and the Rudolf Steiner Archive have committed themselves to keep the works permanently available. Out of print volumes are, as far as possible, continuously reprinted. Ocassionally this is associated with a renewed effort, specially in the case of lecture editions. Sometimes the reissue of a volume implies re-comparing the text with a new text basis, that had perhaps only recently become accessible or which had been newly received by the Archive. In some particular cases, a partial or complete new transcription from the original stenographs become necessary. The elaborations and additions which are part of the references accompanying every volume require wide and time-consuming research.