Corpora of Early Modern English have been collected and released for research for a number of years. With large scale digitisation activities gathering pace in the last decade, much more historical textual data is now available for research on numerous topics including historical linguistics and conceptual history. We summarise previous research which has shown that it is necessary to map historical spelling variants to modern equivalents in order to successfully apply natural language processing and corpus linguistics methods. Manual and semiautomatic methods have been devised to support this normalisation and standardisation process. We argue that it is important to develop a linguistically meaningful rationale to achieve good results from this process. In order to do so, we propose a number of guidelines for normalising corpora and show how these guidelines have been applied in the Corpus of English Dialogues.