Home > Instructions for transcribing documents

Instructions for transcribing documents

Getting Started

The documents on this site are organized into collections of transcribed and not transcribed field notes, diaries, and correspondence. To begin transcribing a document, select the "transcribe a document" link on the homepage, then select a collection containing documents that need to be transcribed. From here, click on "Transcribe this Item..."  

Below the image, next to "Current Page Transcription" click edit to open the transcription box and start transcribing! When you are finished, select "Save Transcription" to save your transcription.

To avoid scrolling up and down the page repeatedly, we suggest opening another browser window so you can read and transcribe simultaneously.

For more detailed instructions regarding the transcription process, please see below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I transcribe everything?
Please only transcribe the handwritten text, not the printed headings.

How do I do formatting?
 Please do not try to perfectly replicate formatting with extra spaces.  Focus on the content instead.  To create a new paragraph, use two hard returns to leave a line between the paragraphs in the editing window. 

What about shorthand or abbreviations?
If shorthand is used for a date (ex: " as ditto marks) please write out the date as you interpret it for better usability.  If you are unsure of the shorthand just do your best to reproduce it or make a note describing the symbol in [brackets].  

Should I correct spelling and grammar errors?
No, please preserve spelling, punctuation, and capitalization as you see it in the document. In the event that the document provides a abbreviated or otherwise unknown variation on a word (or bird) please add that information to the page's discussion.

What does it say? I can't read it!
Try magnifying the document by clicking on the image and using the magnifying button to examine documents more closely.  We understand it can be challenging, so just do your best. It may help to open side-by-side windows on your computer to more easily perform the transcription work.

What if I am still not sure about something?
If you wish to explain any of your transcription decisions or share additional information, click "show discussion" beneath the item image and edit the discussion.  If something is completely unreadable, place the bracketed term [undecipherable] in its place.  Don't worry too much if you get a word wrong, we can go back and correct it.  Just let us know in the discussion where you were unsure and maybe another transcriber or a site administrator can help.