Frequently Asked Questions

What does the "Needs Review" status mean?

  • Once a transcribed page is saved, the status changes to "Needs Review," even if the transcription is not finished. If you need to return to the transcription to finish, it is a good idea to make a note in the notes box so other transcribers and reviewers know that the transcription is still in progress. Once you have finished the page, you can change the note to indicate you are finished. A volunteer reviewer or staff member will be able to review the transcription and make necessary changes or finalize it.

What if I need to take a break from transcribing and come back later?

  • Make sure to click the save button before exiting your browser. It is also a good idea to make a note in the notes box so other transcribers know that the transcription is still in progress.

What if someone else is working on a document that I want to transcribe?

  • If there is already some transcription attached to a page, or there is a note saying that another user is working on the transcription, please find another page to transcribe so that the previous transcriber's work is not overwritten.

If the document is in a language other than English, do I translate the document?

  • The goal of this project is to produce basic transcriptions of our materials. Please transcribe all materials in their original languages.

What do I do if there is an image included on a page?

  • If the image seems of significance, you can mention it in brackets using this format: [image: short description of image]

What do I do for ledgers or tabular data?

  • If the tabular data is straightforward and consistent (e.g. two different columns with narrative text), you can transcribe the top left column first, insert a line space, and then transcribe the top right column. Repeat down the page as necessary.
  • If the tabular data includes numbers or has multiple columns (such as a ledger), you can use the editor to create a table. Use the table to transcribe what you see.

What if there is text written in different directions or cross hatching?

  • Transcribe the body of the text first, insert a line space, and transcribe the next direction of text in its own paragraph. Repeat as necessary.

What if the item includes printed or typed text in conjunction with handwritten text?

  • If the item includes multiple pages of typed or printed text (such as a diary with information pages in the front or back), do not transcribe those pages. Instead, tag the page as [not transcribed] and move on.
  • If there is a combination of printed text as well as handwritten notes (such as a legal form), transcribe both the printed text and the handwritten text. Use your best judgment.

Should I transcribe special characters, such as letters with accents?

  • Yes, include special characters such as accents. The editor in the box allows for insertion of special characters by clicking the omega icon. For a list of numerical shortcuts for accented characters, check out the Penn State guides for Windows and Mac.

How should I record special characters or symbols that I cannot transcribe?

  • If there are mathematical or scientific equations or symbols that you cannot transcribe, use [symbol] instead. 

Where can I get more information and help transcribing?