Transcription Guidelines

Save your work
After completing any transcription, remember to hit the save button to ensure that your work is preserved.
Transcribe what you see
Simply type what you see on the page, preserving spelling errors, punctuation, and so on. Resist the urge to modernize spelling or to correct mistakes. Type words exactly as they are presented, including capitalization, abbreviations, names, and dates.
Use complete words
Often, a writer will break and hyphenate a word when moving from one line to the next. Don’t preserve these breaks; just write the complete word. This will better enable researchers to run effective word searches.
Use brackets to indicate that a word or phrase is unclear
When you encounter words or phrases that you can’t make out, just use double brackets to indicate this (i.e., “[[unclear]]”). If can propose a reasonable guess, place your guess in double brackets with a question mark following it (e.g., [[barn?]]).
Indicate the presence of sketches or doodles with a note
If you encounter a sketch or doodle on a manuscript page, indicate this by placing the word image in the double brackets (e.g. “[[image]]”). If you feel that you can make out what the image is, place your guess in the double brackets as well (e.g. “[[barn–image]]”).
Transcribe as much as you can on a page and then move on
In general, you should try to finish page transcriptions if you can, but if you feel bored or confused by a particular page, just move on to a different one. Somebody else will take over where you left off.
Don’t attempt to format text
No need to indicate line breaks, indents, underlining, etc. Remember, the goal is to make the digitized manuscript searchable; users will be able to view the page image itself, so describing the appearance of the text is unnecessary.
Rely on context to decipher words
Handwriting can be difficult to read. Look for similar words or letters in the document that may help you to decode the handwriting.
View the collection guide or catalog record
The item description includes a link for its archival collection guide when available; or catalog record when not available. These links provide more information about the larger collection that your item is drawn from, and may include names of places, people, subjects, and events that can provide clues in deciphering manuscript text.
Remember: some access is better than none
Don’t worry if your work isn’t perfect or if you’re unable to complete a page; others can review your work and edit or add to your transcription later. Keep in mind that without your help, these handwritten pages are completely unsearchable – so any transcribed text you can provide is better than none.