Getting Started

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

You can create or edit transcriptions by modifying the text entry field and saving. Each modification is stored as a separate version of the page, so that it should be easy to revert to older versions if necessary.

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 the supplied OCR isn't helpful, just delete it and transcribe from scratch.
  • Try to find answers to some basic questions before you start. Context can help you understand what the writer is saying: Who wrote this document? When? What was the writer’s profession? Where were they writing from? Who are they writing to?
  • 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

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
  • check the Needs Review checkbox above the text box before clicking Done
This brings the document to someone's attention and your note will help them figure out the part of the text that was difficult.


For this project, we are marking People, Places, and Organizations.


We have seeded the project with a list of commonly found subjects. Clicking the Autolink button will refresh the transcription text with suggested tags. For example, if John Knight is on the list of Subjects > People, a sentence that looks like:

"Tell Knight to go to the hotel" will Autolink to, "Tell [[Knight, John, 1893-1923|Knight]] to go to the hotel".

This is an imperfect tool, and all added tags should be reviewed for accuracy and adjusted as necessary. If a tag looks wrong, delete the suggested tag and leave the brackets, or remove the brackets if the word should not be tagged at all. For example:

"He was a [[Knight, John, 1893-1923|knight]] in shining armor" is an incorrect tag for "Knight".

Tagging Subjects

To manually tag a Subject within a transcription, surround the text with double square brackets [[like this]]. For example, say that a work has this text:

"I am surprised not having heard from you since you arrived in New York. Will you please let me hear if Mr. Pickering fixed you up satisfactorily and the amount of money you received on account."

We would mark up the People and Place subjects like this:

"I am surprised not having heard from you since you arrived in [[New York]]. Will you please let me hear if Mr. [[Pickering]] fixed you up satisfactorily and the amount of money you received on account."

When tagging people, do not include titles and honorifics in the tag, unless they share a name with another mentioned relative, or have a common word for a name. For example: [[Mr. Noice]], [[Mrs. Noice]], and [[Captain White]].

When applying markup to place Subjects, use as much of the place term as possible. For example: [[Akron, Ohio]] instead of [[Akron, Ohio]]

When tagging organizations, do not tag governments unless a specific department or agency is named.

If you tag a Subject that is not already on the list, you will be prompted to add it to a category (People, Places, Organizations).

Avoid tagging subjects that the document is not about. This could be mentions of celebrities, mentions of far off lands, or the company name on a letterhead of the paper written on. However, when in doubt: tag it! Project managers will clean up errant tags before the collection is finished.

Tagging and Metadata Tutorial