FreeBMD FreeBMD : Transcribers' Knowledge Base

Please check out Hints and Help For Beginners which is an introduction to transcribing for the FreeBMD Project.

Table of Contents

  1. TRANSCRIBING AIDS

    1. Where do I get the free software to allow me to transcribe records?

  2. SPEEDBMD QUERIES

    1. Should SpeedBMD unzip all files every time I try to use it?
    2. How can I insert a missing district in Block Input?
    3. How can I speed up transcription entry on SpeedBMD?
    4. How do I get out of full-screen mode?
    5. How do I get out of reduced screen size?
    6. How do I access the Help Topics?
    7. How do I get the Help system to work under Windows NT?
    8. SpeedBMD is crashing in module BMDDIST.
    9. Can I print my records so far?
    10. Lost batches after hard-drive failure.
    11. Non-Roman numerals in pre-1852 batches.
    12. How do I enter accented characters using SpeedBMD?
    13. What is the "Pick-List"
    14. "Permission denied" message when trying to start SpeedBMD
    15. Can I complete a file (or modify a batch) on my new machine that I started on my old machine?

  3. WINBMD QUERIES

    1. Why am I told I have already completed a page I haven't yet started?
    2. How do I get WinBMD to work under Vista/Windows 7?
    3. Why do I get Runtime Error 13?
    4. How do I access the WinBMD Help File under Vista/Windows 7?
    5. How do I insert an apostrophe in the Page Field?
    6. Where are my transcription files on Vista/Windows 7?
    7. Why am I being told the year in my filename is wrong?
    8. How do I transcribe a special character that is not included in the WinBMD Special Characters list?
    9. What do I do if the scan is incomplete?
    10. Why do I get "Unable to send invalid file"?
    11. How can I check if my district file is up to date?
    12. Why is a district in an old file being reported as a new district?
    13. How do I amend a file using File Management?
    14. How do I enter an index page number with a letter suffix?
    15. How do I enter a volume number with an incorrect format?
    16. How do I enter a district with an incorrect format?
    17. Why when I open a scan is it just blank?
    18. Why is the Page column blank?
    19. How do I change my password?
    20. How can I get the ruler to move automatically?

  4. BATCH HEADER QUERIES

    1. What do I do to correct the Batch Header?
    2. How do I rename a Scan Batch File?
    3. What should the header say when transcribing a scan from a copied fiche or film?
    4. What batch header letter should I use for a page starting with "Unknown"?

  5. SCAN SYNDICATE QUERIES

    1. I've downloaded my first pages - What do I do now?
    2. Is there an image viewer I can download from the net to open Scanned files?
    3. How do I get new scanned pages?
    4. Do I change the Batch ID number between pages?
    5. How do I download Scans from the FreeBMD web site?
    6. Can I transcribe pages not allocated by my syndicate?

  6. PRINCIPLES OF TRANSCRIBING DATA

    1. The general principles
    2. What do I type?
    3. Please explain terminology and procedures.
    4. There is a handwritten amendment to an entry. How do I transcribe it?
    5. How do I keep the lower case first letter e.g. "de Vries"?
    6. Should I correct surnames that I have entered incorrectly?
    7. What do I do with hand-written entries?
    8. What does "&c" after the place name mean and do we enter it?
    9. Do I transcribe duplicate entries?
    10. Telling the difference between 4 and 1.
    11. How do I transcribe a letter that seems to have dropped down a line?
    12. How should I enter names in different sized capitals?
    13. How should I enter an unclear Volume Number?
    14. I am working from A4 photocopies, how do I know when to start a new page or batch?
    15. How do I transcribe a superscript c?
    16. How do I transcribe an entry bracketed together over two lines?
    17. How do I enter a hand-written page number of "Dec/1926"?
    18. What do these error messages mean?
    19. How do I transcribe a repeated line?
    20. What should I do with Myerscough, Doctor Barnabas?
    21. How do I handle alternative names e.g. "BONUS alias CHAPMAN" or "BONUS or CHAPMAN"?
    22. I have an entry with the initials M.R., but between them is a kind of splodge. What is it?
    23. I have a death at age 24 mt, which I assume is 24 months. However I cannot seem to enter it.
    24. How do I transcribe an entry which is out of sequence alphabetically with the previous one?
    25. I have finished transcribing the names under the letter "P". Should there be a page or letter break designation before I start on names starting with "Q" which are on the same page?
    26. I'm transcribing a page where one of the entries has all the fields crossed out. Should I enter the line or ignore it?
    27. How do I transcribe a blank page?
    28. I am using WinBMD and all files until yesterday had a ".BMD" suffix. The last one for some reason has a ".SCA" suffix.
    29. How do I transcribe an entry in the Age at Death column when it isn't an exact numerical age, e.g. it says "Adult" or "about 30"?
    30. What +PAGE do I enter for scans that contain a double page?
    31. How do I transcribe an entry that contains a question mark?
    32. What is the difference between a #COMMENT and a #THEORY line?
    33. Why have I been told to transcribe Mofs as Moss?
    34. How do I transcribe an entry which contains a numeral in a name?
    35. How do I transcribe an Index Page With Possible Incorrect Year on the Index Page heading
    36. How do I transcribe a field that is just a long dash?
    37. How do I transcribe an Index Page where one or more names are out of sequence and their correct place on another page is indicated by an insertion mark (and possibly a comment).
    38. Do I need to remove spaces between forname abbreviations added by the transcription software?
    39. How do I transcribe alternative District, Volume Number and/or Page Number?
    40. How do I transcribe entries with marginal marks but no additional information?
    41. How do I transcribe Phœbe?
    42. How do I transcribe a duplicate scan page?
    43. If I cannot read a surname can I use the corresponding spouse entry?
    44. How do I transcribe a page field like "2345/S D/68"?
    45. How do I transcribe an entry that is split over more than one line?
    46. How do I transcribe a date of birth (in Death entries from April 1969) that is not in the usual format?

  7. DISTRICTS

    1. Why don't we use the full name when transcribing.
    2. How do I enter new districts?
    3. N Bierley and other "unknown" Districts
    4. How can I get a list of districts?
    5. Can I remove an incorrect name from the District File?

  8. REGISTERING FOR THE PROJECT

    1. Can I change my submitter ID?
    2. What do I need to do if I change my email address?

  9. LOGGING ON FOR THE FIRST TIME

    1. After completing the Registration form, what will happen next?
    2. Why is the Challenge needed when I first start sending information to FreeBMD?
    3. What do I do? I've lost the email with the challenge in it ?
    4. When I clicked on the "upload new file" - it took me to the Login in button

  10. UPLOADING FILES

    1. How do I upload a page containing curly brackets, which are not accepted by FreeBMD?
    2. Two scans in my allocation are identical. Do I just upload the identical page twice?
    3. I get a message saying the file is empty when uploading!
    4. I uploaded files yesterday but when I tried a search today some of them were not there. What have I done wrong?
    5. When do I upload my entries to FreeBMD and do I use the same batch entry form.
    6. I get the following error message when attempting to upload a file: "Error number 11004 - valid name, no data record of requested type. Please report this error."
    7. When I uploaded my first batch I had a list of entries appear on the screen and I didn't know what to do with them.
    8. Message warning of possible sequencing error
    9. Why do I get warnings when I upload correct data?
    10. Upload error message "Bad format"
    11. Do I need to retain the files on my PC once they have been uploaded to FreeBMD?
    12. The database has been updated - why does my name still show 0 entries?
    13. Once I have uploaded a file, who owns the data?
    14. Why don't database searches find entries with uncertain charactes such as * [ ] ?
    15. When should I delete a transcription file from the database?
    16. How can I download the content of a file that has been uploaded?
    17. How can I upload multiple files?

  11. USING EXCEL FOR TRANSCRIBING

    1. Problems with "+INFO" or "+B" etc in Excel Files.
    2. I uploaded this Word/Excel document and got a shipload of errors - why?

  12. LINBMD AND MACBMD ISSUES

    1. How do I enter an accented character in LinBMD?
    2. Why doesn't MacBMD put all the file details into the header?

  13. GENERAL

    1. Why would there be duplicate entries?
    2. Why don't we concentrate on one event type?
    3. Advertising FreeBMD.
    4. 1849 St. Catherine's Index.
    5. Does someone check our transcribing and tell us if we are making a lot of mistakes?
    6. How do I use the information I retrieve?
    7. When I retrieve a marriage record, it is of one person ... without the person whom they married. Is this correct?
    8. How do I access the mailing list archives to see what has been written before please ?
    9. Can I upload records to FreeBMD using Scans accessed from commercial organisations offering scan images ?
    10. I am sure many people are puzzled as to why there seems to be semi-permanent "holes" in the distribution charts, particularly as the dates are now being pushed ever higher. Is this due to the greater problem of reading and hence transcribing older records or what?
    11. What is the difference between the total, distinct and unique records uploaded to FreeBMD?
    12. My local access point to the fiche or film says they aren't allowed to let me copy pages
    13. What is the reason for the page number of an entry to be crossed out and replaced by a page number with a suffix letter S
    14. What is a superseded transcription?

Questions and Answers

1. TRANSCRIBING AIDS

1 (a)   Where do I get the free software to allow me to transcribe records?

We have a range of transcribing aids which can be found at: http://www.freebmd.org.uk/addons/

2. SPEEDBMD QUERIES

2 (a)   Should SpeedBMD unzip all files every time I try to use it? For some reason it keeps wanting to unzip files every time I click on it and I can't find any other way of doing it.

This is not normal. You should ensure that you start the program BMD.EXE instead of BMDPACK.EXE

2 (b)   I'm using Block Input and after finishing a page, I realized that I'd missed out a district. How can I insert the missing district?

Start with the cursor in the BOTTOM cell of the column with the missing entry. [Alt+D] will move the lowest entry to the blank cell below, empty the cursor cell and then move the cursor up a row. Just keep hitting [Alt+D] until you get to the line where you want to type in the missed value.

Please note that Block input is deprecated as it can give rise to large numbers of errors.

2 (c)   How can I speed up transcription entry on SpeedBMD?

Try Block Inputting. When you have started the batch, press F5, and you can enter data in columns. Enter the surnames then forenames ([Alt+V] automatically copies the name entry until you let go of the buttons), then the district, and finally, the page number. Have a look at SpeedBMD "Help" F1 to invoke the associated help. Read Section 17 on Block Inputting to get to grips with all the features.

Please note that Block input is deprecated as it can give rise to large numbers of errors.

2 (d)   I accidentally clicked the "full screen mode" button on SpeedBMD. Every time it starts up now it is in full screen mode. How do I return it to the normal window?

Press Alt+Enter - this will toggle between Windowed and Full screen mode.
OR:
(Start here if you are starting the program from the start menu:-) Left Click on the Windows "Start" button, select Settings...Taskbar & Start menu, select Start Menu Programs...Advanced, open the Programs folder, find the shortcut,

(Start here if you are using a desktop shortcut:-) Right click on the shortcut, select Properties, select Screen, in the usage box, select "window" Click OK, (End here if you are using a desktop shortcut) Close the Explorer window.

2 (e)   I clicked on my SpeedBMD window to move it while transcribing a scanned copy and it reduced in size. How do I return it to the normal window?

Have a look in the small window at the top left hand corner of the SpeedBMD screen -- it should say Auto. If yours says 4 X 6 or anything else, then open the list by clicking on the small black diamond at the right of the window. Scroll up to the top choice (Auto). Now click in the centre choice of the three at the top right hand of the screen (the thing that looks like two overlapping squares). You'll need to do it twice to get back to your old familiar screen.

Note: The above might not apply if you are running Windows XP or 2000. You are advised if running one of these operating systems to use WinBMD which can be downloaded here

2 (f)   Just started to enter data - having entered W. Derby - when I get a message which tells me to look at Help Topic 11 for the various District options available. How do I access Help Topic 11?

Press F1 for the SpeedBMD Help file on any topic.

2 (g)   I have installed it on Windows NT V4.0 and also on Windows 2000. If have found that F1/help does not work in either case - the way you invoke help is different on NT/2000 to 95/98 which is probably the reason. The rest of SpeedBMD appears to work fine.

For SpeedBMD 1.7, Using notepad, open the file bmdscr.txt At the top of the file, alter the lines c:\windows\winhelp and c:\windows\notepad to c:\winnt\winhelp and c:\winnt\notepad. Save the file, and it will work OK

2 (h)   SpeedBMD is crashing in module BMDDIST while I'm trying to amend my district list. Can this be fixed?

I've come to the conclusion it is an insufficient memory problem when your Supplementary District table gets to about 150 entries or 2.5K.
If you hit this problem please let me know petercox@xtra.co.nz and send me a copy of your c:\speedbmd\bmdsupp.txt file. If you then delete this file your system will work OK again.

2 (i)   Can I print my records so far, so that I can sit away from the PC, check them against the original, mark errors with a highlighter, and then correct my errors?

Open the batch in notepad (it is a text file), and print it out

2 (j)   I had transcribed almost 4 pages from a fiche when my hard drive crashed. I did each page as a different batch. I was able to recover two batches, .002 & .004. Because SpeedBMD adds the batch numbers as they are done, how to I get mine back in sequence when I redo batches .001 & .003?

FreeBMD has little interest in the batch numbers allocated by SpeedBMD, so long as they are all different for the same transcriber. It will be no problem therefore if you just retype the lost batches and let SpeedBMD allocate the numbers automatically. Your old .001 then becomes .005 and your old .003 becomes .006. For the benefit of posterity you could put a comment line at the start of the batch saying something like - *This was originally batch .001 which was lost in a disk failure. The problem does beg another question. Had you uploaded any of the batches to FreeBMD before the disk failure? If you did then we have another story altogether.

2 (k)   Not all pre-1852 indexes use roman numerals. For example, the 1839 marriage indexes at FRC have arabic numerals. Later there is a reversion to roman, I believe. Does this mean that we should stick to the dates you have stated, or just separate the roman and arabic entries?

SpeedBMD supports the arabic pre-1852 format!
When starting the batch, select format "99" instead of "XX" and you get the arabic version of the old style volume numbers.

2 (l)   How would I enter the Christian name "Josué" or for that matter, any accented character using SpeedBMD?

Under version 1.9 (or later) of SpeedBMD then press Cntrl/F7, under earlier versions press the "~" key and select from the list of characters.

2 (m)   As a Newbie in Transcribing can anyone tell me what is the "Pick List"

It is the facility within SpeedBMD that, as you type in a district name or a forename, provides a list of potential names that match, to cut down on typing.

2 (n)   When I try to start SpeedBMD I get a message "permission denied in line 0 of module BMDDIST at address 21DD:025E"

This problem seems to occur if SpeedBMD has crashed for some reason or if shut down by doing a Windows "Close" instead of using the [Esc] key.
In these situations it seems that Windows does not release all the files acquired by SpeedBMD so next time you start SpeedBMD it thinks a file is already in use elsewhere.
The only known solution is to shut your PC down and start it up again

2 (o)   I have just upgraded to a new PC running Windows XP. I have installed SpeedBMD successfully and copied all my old transcribed files from my old PC, including one that I was in the process of transcribing but had not finished. When I start SpeedBMD it prompts me to start a new batch or continue with the previous batch, but no previous batch is shown. Is there any way I can import the data from the part-completed batch to continue?

You need to copy the file(s) you were transcribing to the folder where you installed SpeedBMD on your new machine. If you are part-way through a batch or file you will also need to copy over the BMDPROJ file (see below).

Then, when you start SpeedBMD, using the Enter key will allow you to continue to edit the partly-transcribed file, and using F4 allows you to edit your transcribed file.

If you have the original SpeedBMD files you are recommended to copy these files to the new SpeedBMD folder:

BMDDSUP.TXT   This gives you the supplementary district codes that you have added.
BMDNAME2.TXT   This is your amended forename pick file containing the names you added using F7.
BMDPROJ   This is the file that records header details of the last file you were transcribing. If you copy this to the SpeedBMD folder your latest transcribed file will be shown as the "current batch" when you start BMD.

Note that this works if you move between any older version of Windows and a newer version (e.g. from Windows 95 to Windows 2000 / Windows ME)

3 WINBMD QUERIES

3 (a)  I have transcribed 1917B4-A-0002.jpg but when I fill in the headers for 1917B4-S-0002.jpg I am told that I have already completed that page. What do I do?

This is caused by saving files with SpeedBMD format filenames. To change to WinBMD format filenames (in WinBMD) open an existing file you have transcribed (e.g. from the Most Recently Used list under the File menu), go to the Options menu and uncheck "SpeedBMD filenames". You will be asked if you wish to delete the SpeedBMD file - answer NO. Now start a new batch and enter the details for 1917B4-S-0002.jpg

3 (b)  I have just changed to Vista/Windows 7 and cannot get WinBMD to work. I keep getting the error message "Run time error 429 ActiveX component can not create object". What can I do?

When running WinBMD under Vista/Windows 7 make sure "User Account Control (UAC)" is on.

3 (c)  I have re-installed WinBMD on a re-built computer and now I am getting Runtime Error 13 type mismatch. What can I do?

It has been reported that this can be caused by not having the Region set to English on your computer. Go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Regional and Language Settings and set the Region to English.

3 (d) I'm using Vista/Windows 7 and receive the message "I cannot open Help files that require the Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe)" when trying to open the WinBMD Help File. How do I overcome this problem?

This problem only occurs with versions of WinBMD prior to version 7, so the best option is to upgrade to WinBMD V7 or later.

For versions of WinBMD prior to version 7, install WinHlp32.exe from the Microsoft Download Center.

3 (e) I'm transcribing a handwritten addition which has a page number "see Dec' 34". How do I handle the fact that WinBMD will not allow me to type the apostrophe after the "Dec"?

Type an apostrophe character ' in another field (e.g. forename) in WinBMD. Select the character using the mouse (click just before the character and, holding the mouse button down, drag the cursor over the character). Press Ctrl+X to copy and remove the character. Place the cursor in the appropriate place in the page number field and press Ctrl+V to paste the character.

3 (f) I'm using Vista/Windows 7 and having finished a transcription I cannot find the file. Where is it?

This problem only occurs when accessing files on Vista/Windows 7 with versions of WinBMD prior to version 7, so the best option is to upgrade to WinBMD V7 or later.

Alternatively, open Windows Explorer and go to where you installed WinBMD (probably C:\Program Files\WinBMD). Click on "Compatibility Files" button in the heading and then the folder Output will appear (this button only appears when there are files hidden). Your transcription files will be in that folder. However, this will not work if you access this folder from another application (e.g. a browser or BMDVerify), in this case you will need to navigate (by clicking on each item) to Computer\c:\Users\username\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\WinBMD\Output where username is your user name which may be "You". If you don't see one of these folders (e.g. AppData) you need to get Windows to show hidden files - click on Organize and then Folder and Search Options and in the View tab select "Show hidden files, folders and drives" (you may have to scroll down to find this). Once you have done this once your application should remember the location next time you want to access files.

This latter method also works if you need to access other folders under WinBMD, such as the Files folder, instead of the Output folder.

3 (g) Why am I being told that the year in my filename does not correspond to the year in the file?

If the short form of the filename format, with two digits, is used and your transcription is later than 1937 it is assumed that the two digits have 1800 added and therefore that the transcription should be for, say, 1838 instead of 1938.

To correct this select the Options menu and uncheck "SpeedBMD filenames".

3 (h) How do I transcribe a special character (accented character, etc.) shown in the Index but which is not included in the WinBMD Special Characters list?

If a character is not included in the WinBMD Special Characters list it cannot be used in a transcription and you should use the unaccented character instead.

Only characters that are part of the character set ISO8859-1 are valid. Using characters from the Windows Character Map won't work.

3 (i) What do I do if the image shown by the scan viewer is incomplete because it stops before the end of the page?

WinBMD has a problem showing some images, so check the image using a viewer - normally this just means going to the location from where you downloaded the image and double clicking on it. If this solves the problem just transcribe the missing part of the image from the viewer. For all other problems with scans please report the problem to your syndicate coordinator and use +BREAK in the transcription where there are missing entries. In due course the scan will be corrected and you will be informed so you can revise the transcription.

3 (j) Why do I get "Unable to send invalid file" when trying to upload a file?

This problem has been found to occur in two circumstances

3 (k) How can I check if my district file is up to date?

WinBMD automatically downloads the latest version of the district file when you upload a file if your version of the district file is out of date (WinBMD version 6 and later). You can also force a download in WinBMD by selecting File/Download district file.

It has been found that sometimes WinBMD appears to get confused about the version of the district file you have in use and so will not download a newer version because it thinks you already have it when you don't. You can check this out as follows:

If the latest version is not the same as the one you are using do the following:

3 (l) I have opened an old file I transcribed some time ago and WindBMD has asked me if I want to save a new district name. How can this be when it wasn't new when I transcribed it?

From time to time WinBMD uploads a new district file containing the names of all the districts used by FreeBMD. Sometimes an error is found in the name of a district and it is changed and this can cause districts in existing transcriptions not to be recognised. WinBMD will then ask if you want the name added to your local (supplementary) district list - you probably want to answer "yes" to that question.

3 (m) How do I amend a file using File Management?

Sometimes you will need to amend a file you have transcribed with WinBMD using File Management. This occurs because WinBMD disallows something that is allowed by FreeBMD (WinBMD will normally be upgraded to allow it but this takes some time). To get round this you transcribe in a way that WinBMD will accept and then, once the file has been uploaded, you change the file in FreeBMD using the File Management facility.

To use File Management click here. You will need to log in using the same user id and password that you enter in the header screen of WinBMD. You will be presented with a list of your files; find the file concerned (if it is a file you have just uploaded, selecting 'Date Modified' and 'Descending' and then clicking on 'Display/Sort file' should show the file you require as the first file).

3 (n) How do I enter an index page number with a letter suffix?

This problem only occurs with versions of WinBMD prior to version 7.2, so the best option is to upgrade to WinBMD V7.2 or later.

Where the index page number has a suffix (e.g. +PAGE,234a) and WinBMD cannot handle such page numbers transcribe without the suffix and then change the file using File Management.

If the page you are transcribing has a page number suffix you will need to change both the filename and the first +PAGE. Using the page number without the suffix is a problem if you have already transcribed that page. For example, you have transcribed page 235 and now need to transcribe page 235a; you cannot transcribe the file as page 235 because you already have a transcription with that page number. To get round this add a numeric suffix, for example 2351.

If it is the next page that has a page number suffix you will need to edit the last +PAGE in the file.

3 (o) How do I enter a volume number with an incorrect format?

When you enter a volume number WinBMD checks that it is in the correct format for the quarter you are transcribing (e.g. that it has a letter suffix). However, there are a few late entries where the format is different from the quarter being transcribed and therefore an entry with an apparently incorrect format needs to be entered.

To enter such a volume number:

Do not forget this last step otherwise you may transcribe some districts incorrectly without it being apparent.

When you want to upload the file select Options/Do Not Validate Districts and then do the upload.

3 (p) How do I enter a district with an incorrect format?

Please follow the same process as described in item 3o above.

3 (p) Why when I open a scan is it just blank?

This problem is known to occur when upgrading from version 4 of WinBMD to version 7. With the scan window in focus press F12 to zoom out until you can see the scan.

3 (r) I can type a page number but then when I tab to the next line the page number disappears. How can I stop this happening?

This problem only occurs with versions prior to WinBMD version 7.2 (from version 7.2 WinBMD adjusts the column widths to make sure all columns are fully visible within the window width).

The page numbers are hidden off the right side of the window. To correct this put your mouse over the right edge of the window and it will turn into a double headed arrow. Holding down the left mouse button move the mouse to the right to increase the size of the window until the page numbers appear.

If you want to adjust the width of any of the columns, you can use the same method on the column headings. Put your mouse over the line between the column headings and it will change into a double headed arrow. Holding down the left mouse button and moving the mouse allows you to adjust the column widths. You can also do this with the line to the right of the Page heading to adjust the width of the Page column (make the window wider if you cannot see the right hand edge of the Page column).

3 (s) How do I change my password?

You need to go to File Management and follow the link to get a new password.

3 (t) How can I get the ruler on the scan to move automatically?

In the scan window select View/Show Image Tools and ensure Ruler/Auto move is selected.

4 CORRECTING BATCH HEADERS WHICH HAVE WRONG DETAILS

4 (a)   What do I do to correct the Batch Header? It won't let me edit the details!

Some header details you can change using SpeedBMD, use the following method for all but the Fiche/Film/Page number and the Event Type (B, M, D)
In SpeedBMD, at the front screen press F4 (Correct an earlier batch), highlight the batch you want to change, press "Enter" key, then under "Options before starting surname", press F4 (Review Heading) again and just "tab" to the relevant item you want to change.

To change these other two fields you will have to get out of SpeedBMD and use the Notepad program to open the file you are working on. It will display the DOS text in the file and you will see MARRIAGE, BIRTH or DEATH in the top line. The word can be changed to whatever it should be and the file then saved as a different name. If you look at the file name, the second letter denotes what kind of record it contains:
M for marriage
B for Birth and
D for death
Change the file name carefully and then save it. As a precaution, make copies of before and after. You also need to edit the file name within the file (on the second line) otherwise SpeedBMD gets confused.
Make sure you are working on the right file next time.
The notepad approach is good for fixing any other little errors in the header discovered after you have started.

4 (b) How do I rename my scan Batch File?

You will have to go into Notepad to do this.
Once there do the following:
Substitute your own values for the items in red.
[File] [Open]
Files of Type [All Files]
Find the file for your batch 68M10132.SCA and click on it.
The data displayed should look something like that below
+INFO,aa@,password,SEQUENCED,BIRTHS,cp437
#,9z,Peter,test, 68M10132 .SCA,03-Oct-2000
#,
+S,1899,Jun,,03-Oct-2000
+PAGE,132
Change the file name embedded in the second line to 69M10132 .SCA
then
[File] [Save as] 69M10132.SCA
[File] [Exit]
Now go into SpeedBMD
Hit [F4], you should see the names of your error batch and the corrected version in a list to the right.
Hit [up/down] to get to your error batch 68M10132 .SCA
Hit [Delete] twice
Hit [up/down] to get to your corrected batch 69M10132 .SCA
Hit [Enter] and the corrected batch is now your active batch and you are on your way again.

4 (c)   I receive material sent to me by my coordinator over the internet. The coordinator takes the fiche and copies it to paper and then scans it so it can be e-mailed to me. Should the source be entered as scan or fiche?

The source reference should indicate whether they are scans of GRO fiche or LDS film. The reason for the distinction is that Fiche/Film/Scans are all copies, and may lack the clarity of the original, or even miss pages from the original. It will be helpful when cleaning the data to know which source each transcription derived from.

4 (d)   What batch header letter should I use for a page starting with "Unknown"?

Even though these pages come after Z, the batch letter should still be U.

5 SCAN SYNDICATE QUERIES

5 (a)   I've got my Scan allocated pages. What do I need to do next? Do I need to print out scanned images before I can type them up?

There is no need to print them out. You will find it easier to view the image on the screen using an image viewer, along with the transcription software. (SpeedBMD or WinBMD)

5 (b)   I'm a new transcriber and I'm having trouble opening my first file. Is there a freeware program I can download from the net to open these files?

If you check in the message that came with your first allocation, there is a URL for a freeware TIFF viewer!

5 (c)   When I upload this finished sheet I will need the next scan from the web. How do I get this?

Your syndicate co-ordinator should have given you instructions for obtaining your next allocation. Please contact him/her for details.

5 (d)   I have just joined and have just finished one page but could you please tell me if I have to change the batch id no for the next page.?

Yes. In scan batches, the last 4 digits are the page number you are transcribing.

5 (e)   How do I download Scans from the FreeBMD web site?

Right click on the file and from the menu select Save Target As...Select the folder where you want to store the file, and download into that folder.

5 (f)   Can I transcribe pages not allocated by my syndicate?

If they are pages in a quarter that your syndicate is transcribing you should only transcribe the pages allocated to you. Otherwise you should enter Individual as the syndicate name, although we encourage you to transcribe pages for your syndicate rather than diverting effort to other pages. You must not transcribe pages in order to correct errors in existing transcriptions; only the corrections process may be used (click on the Information icon next to the entry to be corrected).

6 PRINCIPLES OF TRANSCRIBING DATA

6 (a)   We know from past experience people have sometimes been confused when they start transcribing so just to remind you these are the key points:


transcribe exactly as the record - so if it's all in capitals do it that way, if all in lower case.... the district names vary a lot - one might say Bradford, Y, when the list says Bradford Yorks. Please copy it exactly and remember by pressing Y you can add that variant to the list to save you time in the future.
But see also Question 6b

6 (b)   What do I type?

It is important that you TYPE IN EXACTLY WHAT YOU SEE ON THE INDEX, and not try to correct what you believe to be a mistake. If it say's 'Nowcastle on Tyne', for example, do not change it to 'Newcastle on Tyne', but type it exactly as shown in the index.

There are, however, some special cases that are exceptions to typing exactly what you see; please see here

6 (c)   I am confused about the terminology I've been seeing in the posts to this list, such as "double entries, double keying, accented characters, SpeedBMD, WinBMD, DOS Code Page code, +INFO line, etc."

First thing to explain is SpeedBMD and WinBMD. These are programs which make it easier to key the data in. It makes sure that the stuff you are transcribing is formatted correctly for FreeBMD. If you are using one of these programs, you can ignore anything about +INFO lines etc. The programs will sort it out for you. Double keying isn't something that you do, it is part of the overall project. Eventually all entries will be transcribed by two independent people to ensure that we have accurate data.

6 (d)   An entry on the page I am transcribing has a handwritten amendment to one of the fields. How should I transcribe this entry?

In the index amendments to parts of an entry were done in a number of different ways. Sometimes the amendment is next to the field, sometimes it is in another part of the entry and sometimes it is at the bottom of the page (with a marker indicating which entry it applies to). And sometimes the original field is crossed out and sometimes it isn't.

If the original field is crossed out, transcribe the entry with the amendment and add a comment:

#COMMENT handwritten amendment of crossed out <fieldname> <fieldvalue>
where <fieldname> is the name of the field (surname, page number, etc.) and <fieldvalue> is the original field value. So, for example, a change to a page number might be
#COMMENT handwritten amendment of crossed out page number 541

If there are multiple fields involved repeat <fieldname> <fieldvalue> for each field, e.g.

#COMMENT handwritten amendment of crossed out volume 3b page number 541


If the original field is not crossed out, transcribe the line twice, once with the original field value and once with the amendment. After the first entry add a comment:

#COMMENT(2) 
original <fieldname> of <orginalvalue> had a handwritten amendment of <newvalue>
where <fieldname> is the name of the field (surname, page number, etc.), <originalvalue> is the original value of the field and <newvalue> the amendment. (This form of comment causes the comment to be attached to both entries.) Repeat the above comment text if multiple fields are involved (as in the case of a crossed out entry). An example of a single amended field might be:
#COMMENT(2) original volume of 3b had a handwritten amendment of 3c
and an example of two amended fields might be:
#COMMENT(2) original volume of 3b had a handwritten amendment of 3c original page of 341 had a 
handwritten amendment of 178

Also see question 6g

6 (e)   I have got a second name to transcribe of "de Vries" which SpeedBMD capitalises. How do I keep the lower case first letter?

Type "de" which appears as "De". Hit [Home], to get to the start of the field, then type "d" again, which now stays as "d". Hit [End] and carry on with the rest of the name.

6 (f)   I have transcribed and uploaded 5 pages this week of 1868 marriages, what I didn't think of is to type the surnames in uppercase as per the scan - is there a way to fix this or should I let it be?

Well, ideally, if they are written that way they should be transcribed in upper case, but I suspect we will be lenient on case changes for matching purposes. It would be good if a comment was added to the files to the effect that this error has been made. All future entries should be in the SAME case as they are in the source you are transcribing.

6 (g)   In transcribing pages there is sometimes a hand-written entry at the foot of the page with a corresponding mark higher in the column. The question is do you
a) insert the entry where it is shown that it should be
b) insert the entry at the bottom of the column
c) insert the entry at the end of the page

If the appropriate point for insertion is shown by "x" dagger asterisk etc. then transcribe the extra record as if it was actually at that point (option a). If no insertion point is shown, then insert at the bottom of the page or column as shown on the manuscript.

6 (h)   I'm finding lots of entries with "&c" after the place name - and I'd like to know too please - do we enter it, or leave it out - it's a puzzlement!!

"&c" is an abbreviation for "et cetera". You should enter it.
See question 6b

6 (i)   I have come across a definite duplication as follows;
McFADYEAN MARY ROWE PENZANCE 5C 378 and underneath it
McFADZEAN MARY ROWE PENZANCE 5C 378
The only difference being the "Y" and "Z". Do I enter them both?

Yes. It is almost certainly the same person, and means that the original entry is indistinct.

6 (j)   There are times where it is very difficult to tell if a page starts with a 1 or a 4 .

There is a way of telling which is which on the typeset pages even if the character is faint.
The vertical stroke of a "1" is aligned with the centre of the characters above and below, the vertical stroke of a "4" is aligned with the right hand edge of the characters above and below.

6 (k)   In a scan I am working from a letter seems to have dropped down a line because someone has erased the second letter in Ernest and when inserting the correction has put the letter over the top of the a in the name Fanny in the next line. How do I transcribe it?

Having an r in this position is not a normal typographical convention - e.g. if it had been an F followed by a raised r on their own one would have recognised it as an abbreviation for Father. Therefore we have to decide which other letters it is related to. It is either a dropped r from E nest or it is an insertion into Fanny. Having decided which is the most likely that is what is transcribed, i.e.
Ernest and Fanny, optionally with a #COMMENT
or
E nest and Franny, with two #THEORY lines

The first of these is the much more likely to be the best choice in this situation.

6 (l)   The file I am entering has names with the first letter as a large capital and the remainder as smaller capitals. If I follow the "type what you see" rule I would enter this as an all-capitals name; Is this correct?

The situation with large and small letters in an upper case font is interesting. Although the font is upper case (that is the shape of the letters) plainly the first letter is a capital. Since we do not transcribe the shape of the font but the meaning, the closest to this font is to transcribe the first letter as upper case and the rest as lower case since this differentiates the first letter from the rest and hence retains the meaning of the original. However, since FreeBMD is not affected by capitalisation of names it is not essential that this rule is followed (e.g. do not spend time altering an existing transcription).

6 (m)   The volume number is unclear. It is either "8c" or "8e". SpeedBMD says 8c, what should I transcribe?

Transcribe it as 8[ce] - this indicates that the uncertain character is either 'c' or 'e'.

6 (n)   I am working from A4 photocopies, how do I know when to start a new page or batch?

It is recommended volunteers start a new batch to correspond with each page of the index. For example, this would mean approximately 375 entries per batch for typed Index pages which have a nominal maximum of 375 records per page.

Should there be a need to include more than one Index page per batch it is an important requirement to include +PAGEs to correspond with each Index page.

6 (o)   I have several hundred surnames to input all beginning with Mc e.g. Mc Donald, but I can't find a way to transcribe it with the small 'c' at the top. Can anybody tell me if there is a way of doing it?.

The transcription software is unable to handle superscripts, so just transcribe it as McDonald. This applies to all words with superscripts.

6 (p)   How do I transcribe an entry where the surname, given names and title are split into two lines but bracketed together with a curly bracket, thus:
Montrose,Douglas Beres-}
ford M.R. (Duke of). } St.Geo.H.Sq. 1a 1140?

Type the split line as one and omit the hyphen and the curly brackets, thus:
MONTROSE,Douglas Beresford M.R. (Duke of),St.Geo.H.Sq.,1a,1140

6 (q)   I have came across the following manuscript addition to the typed page Tarrant  Leslie  I Of Wight  2b  Dec/1926. What does "Dec/1926" mean and how I can transcribe this particular entry?

These "see later date" entries are important; they are for people who were registered late. The surname, forenames, districts and volume numbers usually follow the set pattern but the page number contains a reference to a different date and/or page number e.g. "see Jun/35", "D/1035", "see /22", etc. These references should be entered as seen in the page number field, so Tarrant,Leslie,I Of Wight,2b,Dec/1926 in the example given. In some cases the volume number is missing and should therefore be entered as ?, so Pullen  Mabel  Axbridge  see S78 should be entered as Pullen,Mabel,Axbridge,?,see S78.

If the details in the page field indicating a late entry do not conform to a format recognised by FreeBMD a warning message will be shown against the file. An example of a recognised late entry reference is see M/88. If, however, it was see Septbr/95 then it would not be recognised.

If you get such a warning add a line after the entry with the following format:

#THEORY,REF,see S/95
where the quarter must be M, J, S or D and the year must be either two or four digits.

Multiple lines can be covered with the format #THEORY(N),REF where N is the number of lines covered (including the preceding one).

It is not necessary to include #THEORY,REF if there is no warning against the entry.

6 (r)   When trying to upload my first batch,I got the following messages:
Expected 5 parts in MARRIAGES at line 30 (Drew,Albert,Bradford, Yk.,9b,69)
Bad format at line 54 (Case,Mary Jane,"Newport, M.";11a,247)

For line 30, you MUST enclose the whole of the district field in quotes, to ensure that the software knows that the comma is a part of the district, rather than the comma that separates district from volume. So, for example, your entry should be Drew,Albert,"Bradford, Yk.",9b,69

The bad format error on line 54 is caused by the semi-colon before the 11a which should be a comma. There is a difference between what you type in the District field in speedBMD and the actual text file you upload to FreeBMD. In SpeedBMD you enter a District with a semi-colon but it is then converted by the program into a comma. If you are not using SpeedBMD then it must be entered as a comma.

6 (s)   How do I transcribe:
Hickford......Mary Ann......Kingston,4....251
............................................&250A

Transcribe the line twice:

Hickford,Mary Ann,Kingston,4,251
Hickford,Mary Ann,Kingston,4,250A

6 (t)   What should I do with Myerscough, Doctor Barnabas? I assume that anyone searching for this Myerscough will not think to search for a first name of Doctor. So "Type what you see" does not seem to fit in this case.

Type what you see still applies!

In nearly three years of transcribing for FreeBMD I have seen many examples of daft folks giving forenames such as Bishop, Lord, Earl, Doctor, Squire, Colonel etc. to their *new-born* children. I doubt they came with these ranks and degrees built in. :-)

6 (u)   How do I handle alternative names e.g. "BONUS alias CHAPMAN" or "BONUS or CHAPMAN"?

If the alternative names are the surname, check, if you can, to see if the second name appears in the index, i.e. check if there an entry for CHAPMAN. If so, just transcribe the first name, that is BONUS... and add a line after:
#COMMENT Surname has alternative name CHAPMAN

If it is not the surname or you cannot determine if there is an entry for the second name, transcribe both names using 2 lines (repeating all the other information such as forename, district, etc.) and add a comment after the first line specifying how the original entry reads. For example

BONUS or CHAPMAN,John,Marylebone,1a,521
should be transcribed as
BONUS,John,Marylebone,1a,521
#COMMENT(2) entry reads BONUS or CHAPMAN for surname
CHAPMAN,John,Marylebone,1a,521
or, in Births,
Bridgestone,John,Bonus or Chapman,Marylebone,1a,521
should be transcribed as
Bridgestone,John,Bonus,Marylebone,1a,521
#COMMENT(2) entry reads Bonus or Chapman for mother's name
Bridgestone,John,Chapman,Marylebone,1a,521

So, in general, the comment should read:

#COMMENT(2) entry reads <original> for <field>
where <original> is the original wording from the field of the record and <field> is the field in the record which is surname, given name, mother's name, spouse name, district, volume or page number.

Note that there is no space between "#COMMENT" and the "(2)".

If there are more than two names, enter one record for each and put in one comment covering all the names, e.g. #COMMENT(3) after the first of three entries.

If there are aliases for more than one field, transcribe each possible combination and put in a #COMMENT to cover them all which gives each of the aliases found, e.g.

Bridgestone,John,Bonus,Marylebone,1a,521
#COMMENT(4) entry reads Bonus or Chapman for mother's name, 521 or See D/93 for page
Bridgestone,John,Chapman,Marylebone,1a,521
Bridgestone,John,Bonus,Marylebone,1a,See D/93
Bridgestone,John,Chapman,Marylebone,1a,See D/93

6 (v)   I have an entry with two forenames followed by M.R., but between the M and the R there is a kind of a splodge. What is it supposed to be?

It may be McR. If you think it could be this enter it as "M[c_]R." to indicate the superscript c is uncertain, otherwise just enter "M_R".

6 (w)   I have come across a death at age 24 mt, which I assume is 24 months. However I cannot seem to enter it.

The entry is actually:
GLITHERO Constance...24...Mt. Bosworth...7a 38 so the age is 24 and the district "Mt. Bosworth".

6 (x)  How do I transcribe an entry which is out of sequence alphabetically with the previous one?

Type what you see still applies! But please note: If you are using WinBMD and type what you see, a warning will appear pointing out the out-of-sequence error. However, if you are sure that you have typed it exactly as seen, the warning can be ignored.

However if the index includes appropriate insertion points indicated by "x", dagger, asterisk, etc. then transcribe the out of sequence entry as if it was actually at that point.

6 (y)  I have finished transcribing the names under the letter "P". As "P" and "R" are on the same page that I am transcribing from should there be a page or letter break designation before I start on names starting with "Q"?

No, just transcribe without a break.

6 (z)  I'm transcribing a page where one of the entries has all the fields crossed out. Should I enter the line or ignore it?

Include the entry and then in the line underneath put:

#COMMENT Entry crossed through

This also applies to a handwritten addition which has been crossed out and replaced by what is essentially a similar handwritten addition.

6 (aa)  How do I transcribe a page that is blank?

It is not necessary to transcribe such pages. However, if a blank page is one of a double page scan you can include consecutive +PAGE lines, e.g. if page 123 was blank you could include

+PAGE,123
+PAGE,124

6 (ab)   I am using WinBMD and all files until yesterday had a ".BMD" suffix. The last one for some reason has a ".SCA" suffix.

You have probably clicked on the Option menu in the Toolbar of your transcribing page and accidentally chosen SpeedBMD Filenames, as indicated by the tick beside "SpeedBMD filenames". To return to ".BMD" suffix filenames you need to click on "SpeedBMD Filenames" in the Options menu to remove the tick.

6 (ac)   How do I transcribe an entry in the Age at Death column when it isn't an exact numerical age, e.g. it says "Adult" or "about 30"?

Transcribe the entry as written. You may get a warning but, having checked that you have correctly transcribed the entry, you can ignore the warning.

6 (ad)   What +PAGE do I enter for scans that contain a double page?

Where a scan contains two pages of the index enter a +PAGE with the number of scan at the start of the file and a +PAGE with one added to that number where the second page starts in the transcription. So for a scan file 1843M1-C-0125.jpg the transcription would be:

+PAGE,125
....
+PAGE,126
....

The same applies if the scan number has a suffix, so 1843M1-E-0081-a.jpg would be transcribed as

+PAGE,81a
....
+PAGE,82a
.... 

6 (ae)  An entry I am trying to transcribe contains a question mark, i.e. "?James", but FreeBMD will not accept it. What do I do?

Transcribe without the question mark and add a #COMMENT line after the entry stating what the field contained. If we allowed the entry to contain a question mark it would not be found in a search so we put in a comment to indicate the entry could not be transcribed exactly as in the index.

6 (af)  I am confused about #COMMENT lines and #THEORY lines. What is the difference?

#COMMENT indicates that what has been transcribed is not what is in the index but is an attempt to get as close as possible. The difference is described.

#THEORY indicates that what has been transcribed is what is in the index but there is reason to believe the index is wrong. It describes what it is believed should be in the index.

6 (ag)  I have been told to transcribe Mofs as Moss but I thought I had to type what I saw?

This is a handwritten entry and the letter you are interpreting as an "f" is in fact the way an "s" was written when preceding another "s". In typescript we have only one "s" and so both written forms are transcribed as "s". Please see here for some examples.

6 (ah)  How do I transcribe an entry which contains a numeral in a name/surname field such as SILLITOE,Mary Sten8ng,Wirral,8a,374?

FreeBMD will not allow an entry which contains a numeral in a name/surname field to be uploaded and WinBMD will not allow a numeral to be entered in a name/surname field.

To overcome both these limitations transcribe the entry and substitute any digit by an underscore character (_), then add a #COMMENT to show that the entry could not be transcribed as shown in the index, e.g.

SILLITOE,Mary Sten_ng,Wirral,8a,374
#COMMENT Index entry for Sten_ng contains numeral 8 which has been been substituted by _
and upload the transcribed file to FreeBMD.

6 (ai)  I'm currently transcribing 1863 December Births scans and one of the Index Pages is showing year 1963 on the Index Page heading. Do I transcribe the Index Page as year 1863 or 1963?

Check the Index pages each side of the one showing the possible incorrect year to establish if the surnames (in conjunction with the first names) are in sequence for the three Index Pages. If it can be reasonably assumed the pages are in sequence trancribe the Index Page as year 1863 and insert "Index Page shows year 1963 in the heading" in the Comments field in the batch header (Edit/Edit Header Details menu in WinBMD) or in File Management add a comment line after the header
# Index page shows year 1963 in the heading.

6 (aj)  I have an entry in which the Mother's name is just a long dash. How do I transcribe it?

Transcribe it as a hyphen. The same applies to other fields but not to the dash in the Surname field (i.e. the first field) of typeset pages which means "repeat the above Surname"; for these you repeat the Surname.

6 (ak)  How do I transcribe an Index Page where one or more names are out of sequence and their correct place on another page is indicated by an insertion mark (and possibly a comment).

The names should be transcribed on the the page which they actually appear and should not be moved from one page to another.

However, use the +BREAK line in your transcription to indicate the discontinuity, as follows:

1) +BREAK before and after the block of names on the incorrect page
2) +BREAK at the indicated insertion point on the correct page

A practical example of using +BREAK where the first entry on page 1145 (i.e. Warren,Elizabeth,Luton,3b,430) is indicated by a mark as being more proper to page 1144. Page 1144 also has an insertion mark to indicate where the entry from page 1145 should be entered.

+PAGE,1144

Warr,Sidney,Bath,5c,719a
... [rest of entries down to]
Warren,Elizabeth,Birmingham,6d,96
+BREAK
... [rest of entries down to]
Warren,Elizabeth Anne,Totnes,5b,167
+PAGE,1145
+BREAK
Warren,Elizabeth,Luton,3b,430
+BREAK
Warren,Ellen,Newton Abbot,5b,123
... [remaining entries]

6 (al)  Do I need to remove spaces between multiple forename abbreviations, since WinBMD automatically inserts a space after each full stop in the name. For example, if I type Frederick A.M. WinBMD translates this as Frederick A. M.

From version 6, WinBMD has an option "Space After Forename Period". Deselect this option to stop WinBMD inserting the space.

For previous versions of WinBMD you need to backspace and remove the spaces.

6 (am) How do I transcribe alternatives like '1736 & 1804' as a page number?

Alternatives in the district, volume or page number should be handled in the same way as names as described in item 6u. For example

Isaacs,Jennie,Wiggins,Rochford,4a,1736 & 1804
should be transcribed as
Isaacs,Jennie,Wiggins,Rochford,4a,1736 
#COMMENT(2) entry reads 1736 & 1804 for Page No. 
Isaacs,Jennie,Wiggins,Rochford,4a,1804
The wording on the #COMMENT(2) line should be amended to accord with the specific circumstances of the entry.

6 (an) In the left column of my transcription are two pairs of marks, asterisks and pluses respectively, but there are no corresponding written additions or instructions. How do I transcribe this?

If you look again you will see that the first asterisk is between Hirons, Frances L. and Hirons, Leslie B. while the second asterisk is against Hirons, Kevin B.D. . This indicates that Kevin should be placed between Frances and Leslie to correct the name order. Similarly the first plus is against Hirshman, Hyman I. and the second between Hirshman, Edith and Hirst, Alan again correcting the name order (in this case merely swapping Hyman and Edith)

These are standard forms of correction on typed pages and the entries should be reordered as indicated.

6 (ao) How do I transcribe Phœbe since the œ is not in the list of special characaters?

A ligature, most commonly œ, is transcribed as two separate letters, so Phœbe is transcribed as Phoebe. Such ligatures are sometimes referred to as diphthongs.

6 (ap) How do I transcribe a scan page which is a duplicate of another scan page?

Only one of the scan pages should be transcribed otherwise the system will process the transcriptions as different keyings of the same page and they will be flagged as duplicate transcriptions within the syndicate.

It is normal practice for the second of the duplicated scans to be annotated in the scan name to show it is a duplicate of another scan. If there is no annoatation to indicate the duplicated scans please contact the Contact with details of the relevant scans

6 (aq) If I cannot read a surname can I use the name from the corresponding the spouse entry?

No, you must only transcribe what you can interpret for the entry you are transcribing. You can find the spouse entry if you wish and then add #THEORY giving the name found from the spouse entry.

6 (ar) How do I transcribe a page field like "2345/S D/68"?

Where a page field contains a Supplementary Reference, such as "2345/S", and a Late Entry Reference, such as "D/68", transcribe as a single page field, that is Type What You See.

Note:

6 (as) How do I transcribe an entry that is split over more than one line?

Very occasionally an entry will be split over more than one line where the information for one of the fields could not be contained on a single line. An example from 1968 December Births (where the surname is on a separate line anyway) is laid out like this:
WHITEBROOK
     JAYNE MICHELLE      POTTS OR STATHAM
                                      BURTON   9B 112
Splitting the entry across two lines is purely a typographical convenience and it should be transcribed as being a single entry in the index (to which, in this case, the requirements of 6(u) would then be applied).

6 (at) How do I transcribe a date of birth (in Death entries from April 1969) that is not in the usual format?

Type What You See. There are two common variations, a hyphen (or two hyphens) replacing the day and "about YYYY" (where YYYY is a year) and these, and any others, should be transcribed as seen.

7 DISTRICTS

7 (a)   Why don't we use the full name when transcribing? for example 'Newcastle on Tyne' instead of : Newcastle On T; Newcastle T; Newcastle Tyne; Newcastle upon Tyne;

No. It is *far* more important to be precise. It is very easy to make a presumption about what the "correct" district name is, and to be wrong in that assumption. The FreeBMD system standardises all the variant spellings into 700 standard districts. If there is a mistake there, we can correct it, and put right all the entries in 5 minutes. If there is a mistake in several transcribers files, it takes a lot more effort to put it right.

7 (b)   The district which I want is not on the pick list? I'm trying to enter in the district box "Kirkstall" 9b, but there is no option to pick.

Type Kirkstall;9b and it will accept it. It will also ask if you want to add the district to the pick list. Say yes. You should also do *exactly* the same for any district name that is in the index with a different spelling to the pick list.

7 (c)   I have a district which (quite clearly) looks like N Bierley 9b. This isn't in the pick list. What do I do?

The reason that it looks like N Bierley is that it is N Bierley!
You must never try to make a district fit in with the standard names in SpeedBMD.
If it says "Peterboro'" don't pick the Standard "Peterborough" from SpeedBMD, transcribe it as "Peterboro'"
In this case, North Bierley was only created in 1892, and is missing from the list of standard districts.

7 (d)   How can I get SpeedBMD to show me a list of the districts? I can read that the district is 6b, and what to look at the pick list to identify the correct one.

If you type ;6b etc (you need the semicolon for both volume number format) followed by the tab key, alphabetical districts will appear for you to scroll through.

7 (e)   I inadvertently OK'd a mis-spelled district into the district list, is there a way I can remove it?

Using Notepad or Wordpad, first select the SpeedBMD Directory. There is a file "bmddsupp" in this folder which holds all of the additional districts which you OK. Make the amendments carefully to correct the spelling, or delete the entry, and then save the file.

8 REGISTERING FOR THE PROJECT

8 (a)   Can I change my submitter ID?

You can't, currently.

8 (b)   What do I need to do if I change my email address?

(i) You will need to change your email address as a volunteer on FreeBMD. Go to "Manage Your Files" at http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/bmd-files.pl and log in as per normal. Click on "Modify your Submitter details" and then change your email address.

(ii) You will also need to change the email address on the FreeBMD mailing lists to which you are subscribed by sending an "unsubscribe" request from your old email address as described at: http://www.freebmd.org.uk/lists.html followed by a "subscribe" message from the new email address.

9 LOGGING ON FOR THE FIRST TIME

9 (a)   After completing the Registration form, what will happen next?

Answer. You will receive an e mail as below. It is strongly recommended that you immediately click on the shortcut link to confirm your registration in the section marked IMPORTANT.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Dear FreeBMD Submitter,
As promised, here is an email confirming the details of your registration as a FreeBMD Submitter.

First Name : John
Surname : Thomas
Country : Wales
E-Mail Address: Johnthomas@any.address
Submitter ID : Johnnyboy
The email address of your Coordinator is vol-coord@www.freebmd.org.uk

IMPORTANT: You MUST return to the FreeBMD site and confirm your Submitter ID before it is enabled for transcription. The Easiest way to do this is to go to this link: http://www.FreeBMD.org.uk/cgi/bmd-files.pl?challenge=A1BCDE and login with your Submitter ID and Password. Your Submitter ID will be automatically confirmed and your Coordinator will be notified.

If, for any reason, you try to logon to the site without having completed the above process, you will be prompted to enter a 6 character challenge.
Your 6 character challenge string is: A1BCDE

Should you have any problems logging on, please contact your Syndicate
Coordinator or email the FreeBMD Volunteer Coordinator at
vol-coord@www.freebmd.org.uk

Thank you again for volunteering as a FreeBMD submitter.

Yours,
Camilla von Massenbach
Ben Laurie
Graham Hart

FreeBMD Project leaders


Please make sure you have joined one of the FreeBMD mailing lists.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

9 (b)   Why is the Challenge needed when I first start sending information to FreeBMD?

The reason for a challenge... When you register you put in an email address. We want to validate that you are the owner of that address so we send you a challenge. Before you can use the facilities available to you via the login screens, you need to enter in the challenge we sent you. People are prompted for their challenge when they first log on. Once you have entered a successful challenge you will not have to do it again ...

9 (c)   What do I do? I've lost the email with the challenge in it ?

Go to the login screen and choose the option to reset your password. When you reset the password it is sent to you with a new challenge which you can then use to validate your id. Sorry about the inconvenience, but it is necessary if we are to avoid having a database full of invalid data ...

9 (d)   I was able to log on - see my other entries - and when I clicked on the "upload new file" button - it took me to the Login in button - I tried to log in again - again got my original files - but could not upload.

I've seen this problem a couple of times, always with Netscape browsers. Try clearing the cache, and logging in again.

10 UPLOADING FILES

10 (a)I tried to upload a page which had an entry: Scott John Charles M.D. {Earl of Dalkeith}
I transcribed it exactly as is on the page but FreeBMD won't accept it.

The curly brackets are not being accepted. Transcribe them as round brackets since the style of brackets is to do with the typology not the meaning.

10 (b) Two scans in my allocation are identical. Do I just upload the identical page twice?

Do *not* upload an identical page twice, otherwise it will appear as though the file has been double-keyed. Just ignore the second scan.

10 (c)   I have been trying to upload a new file to speedbmd and after I have filled in all the names and started upload I get a message saying the file is empty! Now I know it is sitting safely in my computer,and that I am entering the name of my file correctly -has something gone wrong at my end, or is there a hang-up somewhere in FreeBMD ? Any suggestions please !


1) Is the message in the main browser window, or in a popup box? If it is a popup box, then the most likely explanation is that there is temporary congestion, and the link has timed out. You just need to try later.
2) If not, are you sure you have the details on the upload screen correct? Filename: 68M30144
Upload: C:\speedbmd\68m30144.sca
Content: (empty)
The exact value of "upload" will vary depending on where you installed SpeedBMD, but the example above is the most usual. You can ensure that you get the value for upload right by using the "BROWSE" button, and selecting the file from a list instead of typing it in.

10 (d)   I uploaded files to FreeBMD yesterday for the first time, but when I tried a search today some of them were not there. What have I done wrong?

Transcribed files are only incorporated into the database about once a month - this is known a updating the database and it takes quite a long time. Any files uploaded before the updating starts are included, those uploaded after it has finished are not. You must have uploaded your files during the updating and so some were included and some were not. They will be included in the next update.

10 (e)   I am a new transcriber and would like to know the following, when do I upload my entries to FreeBMD, when I have entered all the entries I have been given or as and when I want to. If I do the second option - when I want to continue entering entries on speedbmd do I use the same batch entry form as before or do I create a new one.

Start a new Project for each event in each quarter. Personally, I open a new batch at the beginning of each new fiche frame that I start, (about 370 entries) and upload it to the database at the end of the frame.

10 (f)   I get the following error message when attempting to upload a file: "Error number 11004 - valid name, no data record of requested type. Please report this error."

There may be a number of reasons for this error.

Or:

10 (g)   What happens when you upload - for instance when I uploaded my first batch I had a list of entries appear on the screen and I didn't know what to do with them.

These files are your personal record of what you have entered onto the database. The list will remain there in case you need to edit any entries, or replace any files.

10 (h)   I have just completed and uploaded my first transcription and all went well except for one entry. The following sequence:
Leck....
Le Cornu...
Lecount...
produced a message warning of possible sequencing error when I entered Le Cornu. I left it in as it was exactly as the original, is this ok or should I move Le Cornu to another position or enter some other symbol for the space?

Leave it where it is. Warning messages are warnings, rather than errors, because they are to draw attention of a human to a possibly incorrect situation. They leave the human to decide :-)

10 (i) Why do I get warnings when I upload correct data? The data I uploaded is exactly as in the index so why am I being told it is wrong?

If it was wrong you would get an error, not a warning. A warning indicates that whilst the data will be accepted there is something about it that warrants further checking. In the example above the system noticed an anomoly and is requesting that the transcriber checks that what they have transcribed is what is in the original.

10 (j)   It seems that my recent 2 uploads from photocopies of film were not successful because I had not entered correctly the source in line 4 of the header details - I got an error messages:

Bad format at line 4 (+F,1867,Mar,,132,0951374"Office of Population Censuses  & Surveys 
Titchfield Hampshire England General Index Marriages MAR A-Z 1867  Microfilmed by The Genealogical 
Society Salt Lake City Utah USA 31 July  1974,11-Oct-2000)
Expecting a +F, +B, +M, +S or +U line at line 5 (+PAGE,366)
What has gone wrong?

The format of the +F line is; +F,Year,Quarter,FicheRange,FicheNumber,Source,TranscriptionDate
The FicheRange is optional.
The problem lies in your "source" field; 0951374"Office of Population Censuses & Surveys Titchfield Hampshire England General Index Marriages MAR A-Z 1867 Microfilmed by The Genealogical Society Salt Lake City Utah USA 31 July 1974

The " after the film number is causing a problem. I suggest you change the source reference bit to just LDS-0951374
In fact, if you are transcribing from film, you should be using a film header instead;
+M,Year,Quarter,FilmRange,FilmNumber,Source,TranscriptionDate

So that would give you:

+M,1867,Mar,,0951374,Brief description of where you got the film from,11-Oct-2000

10 (k)   What do I do with the file I have transcribed after I have uploaded it. Should I keep it on my hard disk for future reference?

It is your choice whether you keep files on your PC (although your syndicate may have specific rules). Once a file has been uploaded the file remains on the server and available for incorporation into the database unless you delete it. It is backed up regularly. Deleting the file on your PC will NOT affect the copy we have on the FreeBMD server. If you delete a file on your PC and then need to amend it you can either do the amendment directly in File Management or download the file in File Management, amend it on your PC and upload it again (e.g. using WinBMD). To download a file click on the Download button next to the file - you should use the Download with .bmd extension button on the next screen if you want to edit it with WinBMD.

10 (l)   Hello - I notice that today the database has been updated, but under my name it still says 0 entries, I recently ( 3-4 days ago) uploaded 2 pages. I was wondering if the update is complete or are there some entries still to be added ( like mine ) or was there a problem with my upload?

If your name is still showing zero entries, then your uploaded file hasn't been accepted; here are some things to consider:
1) The update takes some time and may have started before you did your upload (the cut off date and time is given on the Latest FreeBMD Database Import page).
2) Did you get any error messages as you uploaded.
3) Did you get a message saying <file> created when you uploaded
4) When you go into file management, can you see the files listed

10 (m) Once I have uploaded a file, who owns the data?

Legally data is owned by the copyright holder. In the case of the index data being transcribed this is the Office of National Statistics (formerly the General Records Office). The ONS have given permission for FreeBMD to translate the data into a digital form and make it available, free of charge, on the Internet. FreeBMD has given transcribers permission to transcribe the data on behalf of FreeBMD and, in a limited way, to manage the data. However, ultimately, in accordance with the agreement with the ONS, FreeBMD is responsible for the management of the transcribed data.

10 (n)   Why are names with uncertain characters (e.g. Orpa[hl] or Orpa*) not returned by a FreeBMD search (e.g. for Orpah)?

Having the search deal with different variations has not been implemented yet because we are concentrating on the transcribing, not the searching at the moment.
In the meantime, using * for missing/duplicate characters in a search will work but continue using [ ] _ etc when transcribing.

10 (o)   When should I delete a transcription file from the database?

There are very few occasions when you should delete a transcription file (using File Management). In most cases files should be replaced using File Management facilities, or, if this is not appropriate, deleted immediately before the replacement is uploaded. Even if you have transcribed the wrong file by mistake please do not delete it without consulting Contact support first otherwise it can cause lots of problems.

10 (p)   How can I download the content of a file that has been uploaded?

Go to File Management and next to the file you want to download click the Download button. Note that the file should only be edited using the software that originally created it otherwise non-English characters may be handled incorrectly. Copying and pasting from Show File or from View in File Management is unsafe because of character set encodings.

10 (q)   How can I upload multiple files?

The multiple upload facility provides a way to upload multiple files either by specifying the individual filenames or as a zip archive of a number of files. A report is produced of the files uploaded and the outcome.

11 USING EXCEL FOR TRANSCRIBING - TIP If new transcribers are using a spreadsheet, as I do, the importance of saving the file to a " comma separated value " csv file is essential before uploading.

11 (a)   I recently uploaded my own Excel data to the database. I find, though, that I get a problem with the "+INFO" or "+B" etc entries because Excel interprets them as formulae and converts them to "=+INFO" which is then displayed as "#NAME?". Fortunately it is a problem with display and is not saved as such in the actual file, so uploading was not a problem. However it is irritating when I open a BMD CSV file that it continues to display "#NAME?". I have tried formatting the cells for Text rather than General before saving but when reopened it reverts back. Has anyone else noted this and does anyone have any comments?

I get the same quirk with +INFO and the like when I convert to csv. It doesn't appear to matter since as you say it is only a display problem, the database accepts it OK. I've uploaded quite a few files now and it happens. I have tried a number of fiddles to get rid of it but it always seems to come back. Oddly enough when you open the csv file in Word the original typing appears. I find it is necessary to do this to check that one has not over-run and introduced any commas after the last +PAGE line. If there are any the database will not accept the file. For the sake of people not too used to Excel it is necessary to type a ' before inserting the +INFO type of data otherwise Excel thinks it's a formula being entered when it sees a + .

11 (b)   I uploaded this Word/Excel document and got a shipload of errors - why?

Generally "export to a text file first".

12 LINBMD AND MACBMD ISSUES

12 (a)   How do I enter an accented character in LinBMD?

Use the F9 key to show a character map, from which diacritical characters can be selected, to actually transcribe the character. Having completed the transcription open the file in a text editor and add the characters ",unicode" (without the quotes) to the end of the first line. Take care to save as text only, that is without formatting information.

You can now upload the file normally using File Management.

12 (b)   Why doesn't MacBMD put all the file details into the header?

MacBMD does not produce some of the optional fields provided by WinBMD and SpeedBMD. Since these fields are optional the file can be uploaded successfully without them.

13 GENERAL

13 (a)   If we are all in syndicates and entering data from supplied photocopies/fiche etc. why would there be duplicate entries?

Because, eventually, all data will be keyed twice. This is in order to ensure that keying errors by transcribers are minimised. This duplicate data may also be from adhoc sources such as certificates, usually from one name studies, and should be an accurate transcription.

13 (b)   As a research tool, FreeBMD would be a lot more useful even whilst incomplete if you concentrated on one event (probably marriages, possibly births but not deaths) for the whole period or better still completed one or more events for particular periods e.g. 1837-1841. In the latter case when searching for an event during that 5 year span one could be confident of the result without having to search the off-line indexes for the same period.

In a utopian world it would be nice to concentrate on a particular event or period in the way you suggested. One downside which springs to mind is the poor researcher looking for deaths in the last transcription year 1915 would have to wait a number of years before he/she would have any chance of finding anything.

Various factors such as lack of suitable source material for volunteers to transcribe have hindered completion of certain events and periods.

Over the last couple of years FreeBMD have been in a position to purchase source material (i.e. films of the Index) and obtained the services of Archive CD Books to scan the source free of charge.

More recently Ancestry have provided large quantities of scans to FreeBMD either to replace poor quality images or to provide new source for events/quarters allowing allocations to be made to Syndicates.

FreeBMD are systematically filling in any missing gaps in our transcriptions either by our normal Syndicates or by a dedicated small team of transcribers under the control of the central FreeBMD Co-ordinator of Syndicates.

13 (c)   I want to help advertise FreeBMD, does anyone have a poster I can put up in my local Family History Center??

Peter Cox of SpeedBMD fame has designed 2 posters for FreeBMD at the following addresses. These can be used wherever you have permission to pin them.
Poster1 and Poster2

13 (d)   While cruising the information superhighway today I ran across this site http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/genuki/StCathsTranscriptions/ and noticed there is 1/4 of the 1849 St Catherine's index on line in 17 text files. It would be a quite fast and easy job to reformat it into the one used for our database. Is it worthwhile, legal, ethical, etc? If so, I'll be glad to adapt it for us.

The data in question was used by the project right back at the beginning to test the database, BUT...
The data isn't actually what Mike found in the index, it is what he found in the index plus Mike's corrections.
Whilst this might seem like a good idea (surely we want corrected data), it doesn't fit in with the FreeBMD model, which relies on us having an absolutely literal transcription, together with separately identified corrections.
Having said that, it might be worth thinking about loading the data into FreeBMD temporarily until this range is transcribed

13 (e)   Does someone check our transcribing and tell us if we are making a lot of mistakes? I check each entry as I type it, but am probably letting some slip by and would like to know my error rate so I can improve if needed.

This very much depends on the particular Syndicate co-ordinator. Some co-ordinators arrange for all their records to be double keyed by separate transcribers, and the files compared with each other for any differences which are crosschecked against the original source. Other Syndicates have developed their checking techniques which are based on a single transcription of the records.

The FreeBMD official verification process is described on our Web Page "Transcription and Verification Process" at http://www.freebmd.org.uk/process.html   This involves double keying of the index by a second and independent Syndicate using the various tools available on the FreeBMD site.

13 (f)   I have found an entry I think is an ancestor of mine, but now I don't know what to do next. I have looked at the FAQ and all the choices on the web site, but nothing seems to help. I have printed the district information, but it doesn't tell me an address or something to which to write.

You can order the appropriate Certificate from the General Register Office(GRO). The process and relevant costs for obtaining a Certificate are shown on the GRO web site.

It may be possible to obtain a reduction in the Certificate fee if you are able to provide the details from the FreeBMD search for your ancestor, such as District, Volume and Page Number (however we make no warranty whatsoever as to the accuracy and completeness of the FreeBMD data).

13 (g)   When I retrieve a marriage record, it is of one person ... without the person whom they married. Is this correct?

Yes it is. We are transcribing the indexes (not the records) and the marriage indexes individually list the person with place and page number, not the participants. You can click on the page number field to get a listing of all the names on that page; this will still be multiple marriages so it is not possible to say which persons are married to each other.

From 1912 onwards the actual GRO Index also includes the name of the spouse.

13 (h)   How do I access the mailing list archives to see what has been written before please ?

You will find the mailing list archives here .

13 (i)  Can I upload records to FreeBMD using Scans accessed from commercial organisations offering scan images ?

No!

When individuals sign up to commercial organisations (such as findmypast.com, Ancestry etc) offering scan images they must agree to and abide by terms and conditions which most likely prohibit such use of scans downloaded from these organisations.

In consequence, in order to protect both FreeBMD and indivduals from potential legal action, FreeBMD will not accept any transcriptions created from these sources.

FreeBMD take their responsibility seriously and if we believe that transcriptions uploaded to FreeBMD come from commercial organisations offering scan images they will be removed. This way we are able to show that we are taking real steps to prevent illegal use of commercial organisations' scans.

13 (j)  I am sure many people are puzzled as to why there seems to be semi-permanent "holes" in the distribution charts, particularly as the dates are now being pushed ever higher. Is this due to the greater problem of reading and hence transcribing older records or what?

Please see answer to question 13(b)

13 (k)  What is the difference between the total, distinct and unique records uploaded to FreeBMD?

By way of a practical example:
Consider a page of 40 entries, double keyed, with 3 entries transcribed differently by the two transcribers.

That gives 80 total records. It also creates 43 distinct records, giving an overcount of 3 records to the total and messing up the stats.
We now analyse the alignment of unmatched records, and do an additional count on records which don't actually match, but which (because of their sequence) are obviously different transcriptions of the same entry, and in the unique records count, only count them once, thus giving 40 unique records.

This achieves two things:

13 (l)  My local access point to the fiche or film says they aren't allowed to let me copy pages

The copyright holders will grant permission.

13 (m)  What is the reason for the page number of an entry to be crossed out and replaced by a page number with a suffix letter S

The Superintendent Registrar sends copies of his/her register entries to the General Register Office who then apply a page number to the records for indexing purposes.

However, in some circumstances, e.g. when a birth is re-registered, a further supplementary copy is sent by the Registrar to the General Register Office which supersedes the original copy and in these cases the new entry is given a supplementary number.

This means an original page number in an entry such as 495 might be crossed out and replaced by a page number such as 1659/S.

There are a number of reasons for re-registering a birth, such as:

13 (n)  What is a superseded transcription?

In the early days of FreeBMD some of the scans that had to be transcribed were very difficult to read which lead to extensive use of UCF (Uncertain Character Format) symbols to indicate the uncertainty in the transcription. Later much clearer scans became available and were used for transcribing the same information albeit with much less uncertainty. There was therefore a need to "retire" the earlier transcriptions but in order to give credit to the transcribers this was done by marking the early transcriptions as "superseded". This means that the entries in the early transcriptions are not included in the search results but the details of each entry (accessed via the Information icon) give credit to the early transcribers as well as the transcribers of the displayed entry.

Transcription files are marked as superseded by the Syndicate Coordinator making a request to Contact Quality Assurance Coordinator.

Last Updated 15th November 2016

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