Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Transcription Best Practices

Formatting – Match What You See
As you transcribe, try to match the format of the document as best you can. This includes matching line or paragraph breaks, hyphenated words, or possibly including a notation such as [crossed out] next to crossed out text to indicate its format. Not only does the content of the document provide us with information about the past, but the form can give us clues and insights too.
Correcting – Maintain the Same
Resist the impulse to correct words or phrases to modern standards. Transcribe the text exactly as you see it, including spellings, capitalization, abbreviations, names, and dates. Not all authors write with consistency, they may capitalize a word in one place but not capitalize it elsewhere.
Deciphering – Use Clues, Not Guesses
18th century handwriting can be difficult to read. Below are some tips to help you when you encounter a tricky part of the text.If you think you can read the word but aren’t sure, follow the word with a question mark: [encampment?] When you can’t make out a word, use [illegible] or in brackets put what letters you can recognize and use dots to mark letters you can’t read: [A..m..d]. Do your best and use your best judgement.
Common Writing Conventions
double s.JPG Mississippi.JPGwhich.JPGthe.JPGFor more tips and explanations of 18th Century writing conventions, reference this toolkit.

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