Our goal with this project is to produce basic transcriptions of our materials - we are not looking for perfection from our volunteers! When transcribing, do your best to record exactly what you see.
New to transcribing? Take a look at the tips below to get started, and check out our frequently asked questions for more advanced transcription guidelines.
Transcribe each page and save progress
Begin your transcription by clicking inside the transcription text box. It is important to save your work as you go. To save your work, click on the “save” button periodically.
Transcribe exactly what you see
Do not modernize words or correct spelling and punctuation. Roman numerals and other special characters or abbreviations should be typed as written.
Copy original capitalization:
Transcribe capitalization as it appears in the original document.
Stay true to the original text formatting:
Using the editor available on the site, do your best to copy the original formatting of the document (such as bolded, italicized, and underlined words).
Do not use superscripts:
Transcribe superscripts as if they were on the same line as the other words around them (for example: the "th" in “19th century”).
Use one space between a period and the start of a new sentence.
Indented paragraphs and large spaces:
Ignore indents at the start of paragraphs. Do not insert multiple spaces to mimic the appearance of spacing or gaps in the handwriting.
Follow line breaks:
Keep the same line breaks and tabs as found in the original document. Use your best judgment for the order of notes in the margins.
Ignore words with strike-throughs:
Only transcribe the corrected word.
Inserted words on the same line:
Type inserted words on the same line as the rest of the text. Do not use the carat (^) or any other characters.
Images, illustrations and blank pages
Type [blank page] in the transcription text box for page images with no text or illustrations.
When you come across an image(s) on a page, and the image seems of significance, you can mention it in brackets using this format: [image: short description of image]
Use brackets when unsure:
Note each word you cannot read with brackets and a question mark: [?]. If you can read part of the word, include those letters in the brackets (such as [tho...?] or [th...r]). If portions of the text are missing (due to damage or missing pages), note that with brackets and ellipses: [...].
Research words when unsure:
Some words used in the documents may no longer be commonly used. If you are reading the word correctly but do not recognize it, try looking the word up to see what it means.
Return to previous work:
As you transcribe, it will become easier to read the handwriting. When you finish a document, it is beneficial to review previous work to see if you can correct anything you weren't able to read.
This information is best transcribed by creating a table within the transcription. See instructions for creating tables below, in the “commands” section. Use the table to transcribe what you see, according to the arrangement of rows and columns within the document.
Transcribe the body of the text first. Then, insert a space by pressing “enter” (Windows) or “return” (Mac) and transcribe the next direction of the text in its own paragraph. Repeat as necessary.
If the item includes multiple pages of printed/typed text (e.g., a diary with informational pages in the front or back), do not transcribe those pages. Instead, tag the page as [not transcribed] and move on.
If there is a combination of printed/typed text as well as handwritten notes (e.g., on a legal form), transcribe both the printed text and the handwritten text.
Yes! Include special characters, such as accents. The webpage text editor allows for the insertion of special characters. See directions for inserting special characters in the “commands” section.
Symbols that cannot be transcribed and do not have a special character should be written as [symbol] instead.
On Windows machines:
While holding down the “shift” and “alt” keys on your keyboard, use your mouse to click on the item, and then slowly move the cursor to the left or the right. These steps must be done simultaneously. The item will rotate in the direction you move the cursor.
On Mac machines:
While holding down the “shift” and “option” keys on your keyboard, use your mouse to click on the item, and then slowly move the cursor to the left or the right. These steps must be done simultaneously. The item will rotate in the direction you move the cursor.