These guidelines include basic procedures to follow when transcribing and rules for representing irregular content such as hyphenated words, unclear words, insertions, underlining, cross-outs, preprinted information, images, special characters, punctuation, and abbreviations.
Type what you see. Preserve original content, including errors in spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and word order.
What not to transcribe: Please do not transcribe indentations in the text, font styles (such as bold or italic), or unintentional marks on the page (including tears and ink stains).
SAVE OFTEN. The Transkribus web interface does not save changes automatically. If you exit out of the page, any transcription work or any changes made to previously saved transcriptions will be lost.
Status. When you finish transcribing a page, please make sure that it is marked with the “Ready for Review” label in the status menu (which can be found on the bottom right of the screen, just above the “Save Changes” button).
Representing Irregular Content
Unclear words. If you cannot decipher what was written because the handwriting is illegible or unclear, transcribe what you can and flag the word or phrase using the Unclear button in Transkribus. If the whole word or phrase is indecipherable, flag its place in the transcribed sentence with [illegible] (e.g. “I [illegible] the leaves yesterday”).
Combining words. Words should be separated or combined according to the original text, even if it is not in accordance with the current practices.
Punctuation. Punctuation should be transcribed using the keys on your keyboard, keeping as close as possible to the original marks.
Hyphenated words. If a word is broken in half and hyphenated at a line break, please replicate the placement of the hyphen and each half of the word in your transcription. If two hyphens are used to connect the two halves of the word, transcribe both hyphens.
Special characters. If you come across a character in the diary that you cannot replicate with a standard keyboard, such as a degrees symbol or a cents symbol, skip over it and continue transcribing. The character will be added to your transcription by a reviewer at a later point in time.
And. The word “and” is often represented with a logogram, such as a plus sign or an ampersand, to save time and space within a document. All symbolic representations of the word “and” should be transcribed as an ampersand (&).
Abbreviations. Abbreviations should be transcribed according to the original text, i.e. not expanded. This includes historical abbreviations and abbreviations which are still used today (such as titles and salutations).
Et Ceter. Like “and,” the phrase “et cetera” is often shortened to save time and space within a document. The most common abbreviations for it are “etc.”, “&c.”, and “+c.” Please transcribe “etc.” and “&c.” as they appear on the page. In accordance with our rule for symbolic representations of the word “and,” please transcribe “+c.” as “&c.”
“Inst.” and “Ult.” “Inst.” is short for instante mense (current month) and “Ult.” is short for ultimo mense (last month). They are used most often in professional correspondence to indicate when something happened (for instance, when a letter was written or received). Please transcribe these abbreviations as they appear on the page.
Insertions, superscript, and subscript. Transcribe insertions and superscripted/subscripted text in the order that would make sense to read aloud.
Superscript is often underlined or underscored with two dots to make it stand apart from the surrounding text. Do not transcribe any underlining or underscoring that accompanies superscript.
Underlining and underscoring. Transcribe underlined or underscored words and mark them using the Underline button in Transkribus.
Sometimes, partial underlining is used deliberately to emphasize part of a word: by underscoring the “s” in the word cats, for example, one emphasizes the fact that there is more than one cat. In many instances, though, partial underlining is merely the result of quick or sloppy writing. If a letter or syllable in a word is underlined for an emphatic purpose, please transcribe the word and its underscoring exactly as they appear on the page. If, however, it is clear that the writer intended to underline the whole word in the original document, please do the same in your transcription.
Cross-outs/strikethrough. Passages of text that have been struck through should be transcribed and crossed out using the Strikethrough button in Transkribus. If the crossed-out text is not legible, mark it as [illegible] in your transcription.
Images. The term image covers anything that cannot simply be transcribed as text such as photographs, sketches or drawings, postage stamps, maps, and mathematical or scientific tables, charts, and graphs. If you encounter images within the diary, do not attempt to describe their content. Instead, flag their presence like this: [image]. If, however, the image is accompanied by captions, dates, or other text, please include them in your transcription.
Preprinted information. Transcribe preprinted words, phrases, and numbers as you would handwritten text, provided there is significant amount of handwritten information on the same page.
Preprinted letterhead is usually only a few lines and is followed closely by original handwritten information. All information in the letterhead, including names, dates, and addresses, should be included in your transcription.
Short newspaper clippings (15 lines or less) that are attached to or tipped into the diary should be transcribed.
Many diaries come with preprinted lines for entries on every page. These preprinted lines should not be replicated in your transcription. Please transcribe only handwritten underlining.