My Rules for Transcriptions

  • Semantic preservation: I always preserve the semantics of what is written/typed. If the text is factually incorrect, I nevertheless remain faithful to the author's words.
  • Brackets (i.e., []): I use brackets to denote something that is not in the original text. I have very rarely found brackets in use in older handwritten text.
    • Errors: I use [sic] to denote when an error is the author's, not mine. Sometimes, I will include the correction (e.g., pson [sic: person]).
    • Dates: Dates are written in a variety of ways, to include numbers written as words. I strive to always type the date in a standardized Gregorian Calendar format of dd Mmm yyyy immediately after the text date (e.g., the Tenth Day of aprill 1684 [10 Apr 1684]). This makes the date more easily recognized by search engines.
    • Numbers: When quantities are written as words, I'll give the numeric equivalent in brackets (e.g., one hundred [100]).
    • Names: When a name is abbreviated, or given only as initials, I will provide a complete name if it is known (e.g., Wm. [William]).
    • Money: I will indicate money using modern notation wherever possible (e.g., ten pounds [£10]). If old style notation is used, I will convert to modern notation (e.g., 4/ [4s], which is four shillings).
  • No new content: I never introduce new content into the transcribed text (except when contained within brackets, as described above).
  • Typeset “long” s (i.e., the ſ character): Some early printing typesets used the long s character, which is an archaic form of the lower case letter s. I simply replace it with a lowercase s. Some transcribers use the lowercase f, but that is grammatically and syntactically incorrect.
  • Existing line breaks: As a general rule, I do not preserve line breaks in the original text when it is due solely to the text encountering the edge of the paper. This rule is driven primarily by two factors:
    • Intentionally preserving such a line break does not enhance the transcription.
    • My transcriptions will be posted online and, as such, the text needs to “flow” based on screen size. Even so, some line breaks make perfect sense, such as when it is obvious a new line is appropriate (lists, tabular data, etc.).
  • Inserted line breaks: I may insert a line break when it makes the transcription more readable or more comprehensible. An example would be to begin a new line for each “Item” in a will. Another example is when the original text is written in one long, continuous paragraph; in such a case I may break it into sections as content dictates.
  • Punctuation: No punctuation is added or removed, even if doing so would improve readability.
  • Last modified: 2019-11-09 00:28:43