Transcription Guide

Ready to transcribe? Go online to the Smithsonian Transcription Center.

 
Get started with this helpful guide to transcribing the work of the Harvard Computers. Click the tabs below for extra tips!

The transcription and review process of our PHaEDRA materials is outlined and described on the Smithsonian Transcription Center website, which is found at this link. The steps are as follows:

transcription

TYPE WHAT YOU SEE

Our main goal is to create text that mirrors this document. Write down words and paragraphs as you see them. Keep words in their original spelling, even if it is technically “wrong.” Find a way to include any notes the author may have written on the top, bottom or sidebar. One exception: if a word is hyphenated because it goes across two lines, type it out as one word. See example page.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT FORMATTING

You don’t have to indicate bolded or italicized text. It's optional. Generally you don't have to worry about accent marks or special characters, but since every project is different, please read the project description before you get started. Also pay attention to any notes left on a transcription page. See example page. There is some special syntax for underlined or struck out words which you can find in the advanced instructions, but they are optional.

EVERY BIT HELPS

It’s ok if you don’t have time to complete the entire transcription. Even adding a sentence or two makes it easier for the next person to work on it. Often two or more volunteers need to work together to finish a transcription.

SAVE FREQUENTLY

Transcription can be hard work, so make sure you save frequently. Click the [Save] button located below the transcription form to save your progress. Remember that no one can edit a page if you are working on it (you should see "Locked" in yellow on your upper right screen). If you want to move on, you can click the orange [Complete & Mark for Review] button or [Save] and use the navigation buttons above the transcription field to change pages. The system will release your page to others to edit if you have not click on any buttons ([Save] or [Complete & Mark for Review] ) for 5-10 minutes. So, save frequently to keep the page to yourself if you are still working on it.

IF YOU FIND A WORD YOU CAN’T QUITE READ

Please make a note using double brackets like this: or simply . Save your work and you can continue transcribing the rest of the item.

NAVIGATING A PROJECT

Did you leave a project on a certain page or want to move forward or backward in the project? You can use the [Go To Page] feature on the project page - located near the project summary - or you can navigate using [Go To Page] on the transcription asset page. On the transcription page, you’ll find the [Go To Page] box above the transcription field, next to the [Home] button.

IF YOU AREN’T SURE, USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT

One of the reasons this project is so exciting is that we’re not entirely sure what you’ll find in our collections. As you explore through our many historic documents and scientific labels, just do your best to make the transcription useful. You can contact us or use the [feedback] tab on the side if you have a specific question you’d like help with.

TABLES AND CELLS
To demarcate between cells in table, use a vertical bar/pipe (|). Use this only to mark transitions left-to-right. No special mark is necessary for line breaks or new rows. Please include empty cells where appropriate, but do not feel the need to add empty rows. To transcribe empty cells, separate the pipes with 3 spaces.
figure 1
Figure 1: Tables and Cells

(Fig. 1) Transcription:
O^ [ [ h ] ] | O^ [ [ m ] ] | +000108 [ [ ? ] ] | +03559 | .03748 | +.00132 | +00000 | +.03823 | +.0401
| 5 | | | 38555.00107 | 138 | | | 413.0029
 

 

IMAGES (Fig. 2)
Figure 2
Figure 2: Images

When you see a sketch or picture on the page, please use the word “image” placed in double brackets (no spaces): [ [image] ]. Please do not describe the image at this time. These will be collected after the transcription is complete, and will be processed by scientists and historians of astronomy.
 

 

 

GRAPHS AND STAR PLOTS (Fig. 3-4)

When you encounter a graph or data visualization, please tag it with [ [ graph ] ]. Take care to distinguish between graphs (Fig. 3) and star plots (Fig. 4), which you would tag as an image. Please record all text attached, adjacent, or ancillary to the graph as you would any other text on the page.

figure 3
Figure 3: Graphs

figure 4
Figure 4: Star Plots

 

 

 

 

 

SUB- AND SUPERSCRIPT NOTES (Fig. 5)

If you see handwritten notes inserted above, below, or adjacent to a line of text, please insert them into the transcription box using a ^ and double brackets [ [  ] ] to contain the inserted text.
For the following example (Fig. 5): “Sept 6/7 1858 ^ [ [This is comet VII 1858. Comet VI] ] H.P. Tuttle’s…”.
Figure 5
Figure 5: Subscript and Superscript

Figure 6
Figure 6: Equations

 

EQUATIONS (Fig. 6)

If you come across an equation, record it with the tag [ [equation] ]. 

 

 

 

UNDERLINE AND STRIKETHROUGH (Fig. 7)

Please write strikethrough or underlined, when appropriate, in double brackets before and after the word or phrase that has been struck out or underlined. Remember to close the tags with a backslash (/).

figure 7
Figure 7: Underline and Strikethrough

(Fig. 7) Transcription: [ [ strikethrough ] ] 4538.4 [ [ /strikethrough ] ] 1 | 4538.4

 

SYMBOLS IN TEXT (Fig. 8)

If you encounter a symbol in place of a word in text, mark it with the tag [ [symbol] ] and, if possible, include the word that the symbol replaces. 
fig 8
Figure 8: Symbols in Text
(Fig. 8) Transcription: Search for Tuttle’s [ [symbol – comet] ] by T.W. but it was too near [ [symbol – moon] ]

 

GREEK LETTERS (Fig. 9)

Volunteers should transcribe the Latin name that corresponds to the Greek letter.
fig 9
Figure 9: Greek
(Fig 9) Transcription:
Br. edge to H gamma [ [superscript] ] 1 [ [superscript] ]
 
You can refer to this chart if you are uncertain which letter is being used (Greek Alphabet, CC-by-SA license from Ben Crowder).
 
 

Tell Us More!

Should you discover any connections--people such as other astronomers or events--in these projects, let us know. We will add them below!
You can also join the conversation on Twitter with @TranscribeSI and @ProjectPhaedra.