Home > About > Transcription Tips

Transcription Tips

Background on Transcription

There are many great resources for learning early modern paleography, including, among my favorites, a wonderful account of the teaching of handwriting: http://collation.folger.edu/2013/05/learning-to-write-the-alphabet/

One website that you might find particularly useful is at Brigham Young University, where they specialize in family history, and thus spend quite a lot of time teaching even entry-level students how to read manuscripts.  Before you do this exercise, spend some time looking over the resources at https://script.byu.edu/Pages/English/en/home.aspx


  1. Transcribe each word, number and instance of punctuation
  2. If you can’t identify a letter, look for a similar letter that is clearer, or where you can better understand the context
  3. Use the context to help you identify words
  4. FInd previously transcribed pages and see if a letter/word similar to the one that is giving you trouble crops up.
  5. If there is a word or letter that you just can’t figure out, you can put a [?] mark next to it to indicate uncertainty. Sometimes, script really *is* illegible.