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This paper describes the design and implementation of the MATE workbench, a program which provides support for the annotation of speech and text. It provides facilities for flexible display and editing of such annotations, and complex querying of a resulting corpus. The workbench offers a more flexible approach than most existing annotation tools, which were often designed with a specific annotation scheme in mind. Any annotation scheme can be used with the MATE workbench, provided it is coded using XML markup (linked to the speech signal, if available, using certain conventions). The workbench uses a transformation language to define specialised editors optimised for particular annotation tasks, with suitable display formats and allowable editing operations tailored to the task. The workbench is written in Java, which means that it is platform-independent. This paper outlines the design of the workbench software and compares it with other annotation programs.