Once you sign up for an account, a new Transcribe/Correct tab will appear above each page.

You can create or edit transcriptions by modifying the text entry field and saving.

Registered users can also add notes at the bottom of the page to comment on difficult words, suggest readings, or discuss the texts.


  • Transcribe what you find exactly as it appears. Retain original capitalization, punctuation, and spelling, including errors.
  • Ignore indentations and text alignment. Hitting Enter twice indicates a new paragraph, whether indicated by a blank line or by indentation in the original.
  • Maintain line breaks (when the next word is on the next line) by hitting Enter once.
  • For cemetery plot maps:
    • Ignore the "map" part of the page and transcribe the writing only. View examples on page 2 of the Chiver's Notebook collection.
    • You can separate numbers/names with semicolons or use the table format.
    • Transcribe sideways or upside down text as if it's right side up, no indication is needed.
    • For pages with a lot of inscription information, transcribe the columns sequentially (not in table format).
    • Any amount of transcription helps, even if you are unsure of formatting; when in doubt, simply transcribe.
  • When transcribing from an open book scan:
    • Write "VERSO:" above transcriptions written on the left page, and "RECTO:" above transcriptions on the right page.
    • Transcribe the pages in reading format. If writing on the "RECTO:" page is supposed to be read before writing on the "VERSO:" page, transcribe it first.
    • If writing spans over both pages (ie- A name on the left page with death information on the right page), Write "VERSO & RECTO:" and transcribe the pages as if they are one page.
  • For text that is formatted as a table (ie rows and columns) use | to delineate columns. Table Encoding
  • You can highlight text and use the buttons at the top of the editing screen to apply the following tags:
    • add Additions to the text, for example: footnotes, comments in the margins, handwritten additions, etc.
    • date Select the text from the transcription that indicates a date. Add the date in yyyy-mm-dd format to the when attribute. Make inferences based on context whenever possible. You can truncate the date to only include the year/month or just the year, if that is all that is known.
    • gap Used when the text is illegible for some reason and you're not able to guess at what might be missing.
    • head Title or header.
    • s Strikethrough text.
    • sub Subscript text.
    • sup Superscript text.
    • unclear Similar to gap, but used in cases where you can see the text, but are not able to make out what it says. Use the unclear tag around the illegible text, but follow the tag with your best guess in [brackets].
    • u For underlined text.
  • You can go to the next page of a multi-page document by clicking on the arrows next to the Page button in the top right of the screen, but make sure to save your work before doing so.

Transcription Strategies

Here are some strategies for approaching transcription. You can follow these as a step-by-step guide or pick and choose the methods that work best for you.

  • If there is existing OCR (computer translation) that isn't helpful, just delete it and transcribe from scratch.
  • If you are unsure of a word but have a guess, type the word in square brackets with a question mark: [igloo?]
  • Read odd-looking words aloud, phonetically. The sounds may help you recognize an unusually spelled word
  • Consulting the previous transcribed documents in the collection can help you recognize context, names, and commonly written words
  • Finishing Transcription

    If you need to stop working while you are in the middle of a document, you can use the Save button to save your progress. The document will be available for anyone to work on until it is marked as "complete."

    If you feel confident in your transcription and think that it is finished, select the green Done button. This will save your transcription and change its status to "complete" which moves it on to the next phase of work.

    If you feel that you've done the best you can, but there are a few things you have questions about, leave a note on the document in the Notes And Questions section at the bottom of the page. This brings the document to someone's attention and your note will help them figure out the part of the text that was difficult.

    Linking Subjects

    In this project, we are linking names of People, Places, and Organizations.

    To create a link (also called a tag) within a transcription, surround the text with [[double brackets]].

    Example: Say that we want to create a subject link for "Dr. Owen" in the text:

    Dr. Owen and his wife came by for fried chicken today.

    Place [[double brackets]] around Dr. Owen like this:

    [[Dr. Owen]] and his wife came by for fried chicken today.

    When you save the page, you will be asked to categorize any new tags, then a new subject will be created for “Dr. Owen”.

    To create a subject link with a different name from that used within the text, use double brackets with a pipe as follows: [[official name of subject|name used in the text]]. For example:

    [[Dr. Owen]] and [[Dr. Owen's wife|his wife]] came by for fried chicken today.

    This will create a subject for “Dr. Owen's wife” and link the text “his wife” to that subject.

    Auto-linking Subjects

    Whenever text is linked to a subject, that fact can be used by the system to suggest links in new pages. At the top of the transcription screen, there is an Autolink button. This will refresh the transcription text with suggested links, which should then be reviewed and may be saved.

    An example of autolinking incorrectly:

    Using the above linking examples, the system already knows that “Dr. Owen” links to “Dr. Owen” and “his wife” links to "Dr. Owen's wife". If a new page reads:

    We told Dr. Owen about Sam Jones and his wife.

    pressing Autolink will suggest these links:

    We told [[Dr. Owen]] about Sam Jones and [[Dr. Owen's wife|his wife]].

    In this case, the link around “Dr. Owen” is correct, but we must edit the suggested link that incorrectly links Sam Jones's wife to "Dr. Owen's wife". The autolink feature can save a great deal of labor and prevent collaborators from forgetting to link a subject they previously thought was important, but its suggestions still need to be reviewed before the transcription is saved.

    Here is a link to our Tagging Tutorial. For this project, we are not using the Metadata feature, so you may disregard that portion of the tutorial.