Text correction

The transcripts shown for this collection were generated by handwritten text recognition (HTR) software. You may need to correct specific words or whole lines of text. Where possible, correct the existing lines of text without adding extra spacing between lines. Do add a new line if the existing transcript is missing content or where necessary for clarity. For example, you can create separate lines where the HTR transcript has combined separate blocks of text like the signature of the author and name of recipient.


After you have gained some experience correcting transcripts in this collection, you may review transcripts that are marked as needing review. Check for any words you recognise that another volunteer has missed, and check for consistency with the transcription conventions below. The reviewer can save the transcript to mark it as completed, even if some of the text is marked illegible.

If you have questions when correcting or reviewing transcripts, you can make a note below the item.

Transcription conventions

Transcription represents what the original author wrote, and as transcribers we are not here to correct any errors in the writing.

With that in mind, capitalisation and punctuation are retained as written. A single space is used between words, no matter how small or large the physical gap between the written words or between words and punctuation marks in the manuscript. Abbreviations are also retained and are never expanded. If the author has used an ampersand, i.e. ‘&’ then do not translate to ‘and’.

Likewise spelling and grammar are retained as written even for the most obvious errors of inscription. The bracketed expression [sic] is used to indicate errors that were written ‘thus in the original’ and so the author’s language is retained.

If a manuscript is filled with misspellings, leave as is, reserving [sic] for those cases where a reader might be confused or suspect a transcriber error. However, there is an exception for place names. Put the corrected place name in [square brackets] beside the misspelt name, for example Morton [Moreton].

If a word is indecipherable, you can consult with other transcribers. If you are still uncertain, replace the unrecognisable word with three dots (ellipsis) within square brackets. For example: We were on our way to […] within hours.

Illegible passages are indicated by [2 words illeg], [3 words illeg], and so on. The number of illegible words indicated may be an approximation. Lines of illegible words are indicated by [1 line illeg], [2 lines illeg], etc.

If there is a good indication of what an unreadable word might be, the likely word is shown followed by a question mark in square brackets [?]

Square brackets are used to indicate any addition by someone other than the original author and that it is not part of the original text. For example, square brackets can be used for annotations or comments around the margins of a letter.


Some of the handwritten content in this project appears in tables, for example recordings of weather observations. The content can be transcribed across the row, using a pipe character to separate the columns. See the Table Encoding page for information and examples.

Linking Subjects

To create a link within a transcription, surround the text with double square braces.

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 [[ and ]] around Dr Owen like this:

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

When you save the page, a new subject will be created for “Dr. Owen”, and the page will be added to its index. You can add an article about Dr. Owen—perhaps biographical notes or references—to the subject by clicking on “Dr. Owen” and clicking the Edit tab.

To create a subject link with a different name from that used within the text, use double braces 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.

Renaming Subjects

In the example above, we don't know Dr. Owen's wife's name, but created a subject for her anyway. If we later discover that her name is “Juanita”, all we have to do is edit the subject title:

  1. Click on “his wife” on the page, or navigate to “Dr. Owen's wife” on the home page for the project.
  2. Click the Edit tab.
  3. Change “Dr. Owen's wife” to “Juanita Owen”.

This will change the links on the pages that mention that subject, so our page is automatically updated:

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

Combining Subjects

Occasionally you may find that two subjects actually refer to the same person. When this happens, rather than painstakingly updating each link, you can use the Combine button at the bottom of the subject page.

For example, if one page reads:

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

while a different page contains

Jim bought a [[chicken]] today.

you can combine “chicken” with “fried chicken” by going to the “chicken” article and reviewing the combination suggestions at the bottom of the screen. Combining “fried chicken” into “chicken” will update all links to point to “chicken” instead, copy any article text from the “fried chicken” article onto the end of the “chicken” article, then delete the “fried chicken” 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 bottom 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.

Using our example, the system already knows that “Dr. Owen” links to “Dr. Owen” and “his wife” links to “Juanita Owen”. 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 [[Juanita Owen|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 “Juanita Owen”. 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.