FreeBMDFreeBMD Transcribing Guidelines

On the face of it, copying from one thing to another shouldn't be hard. No alterations or reordering are required; the entries will be keyed twice by different people, so if an occasional mistake gets in, well.. it isn't the end of the world.

You may think this is a reasonable thought to have. You may well be tempted at the end of a session to just not bother checking that last batch over. After all, you are tired and you're going to risk missing that last bus and it'll probably be ok.

When you think these thoughts, just remember this:

Are there any rules about how to transcribe?

Really there is only one rule. Please transcribe what you see. Don't transcribe what you think it ought to say, but only what it does say. We call this "Type What You See", that is the line should be an accurate representation of what is in the index. If you think what is in the index is wrong you can add a #THEORY line but the entry itself should still be what you see.

In applying "Type What You See" you do not transcribe:

  1. Commas between fields;
  2. The rows of identical dots that separate fields in the later printed index (see below); or
  3. Full stops after Age, Volume or Page Number.
These are all merely data separators, and carry no data value.

Note also:

  1. Victoria handwriting used what looks to our 21st century eyes like "fs" to represent "ss" - transcribe as "ss";
  2. Raised letters, with or without dots beneath, are typographical conventions - just transcribe the letter;
  3. The case of a letter does not affect the meaning - transcribing the case (upper or lower case) as seen is preferable but not critical.
  4. Alternatives or aliases (e.g. BONUS alias CHAPMAN) are normally transcribed as two records; see here for more details.

Accented characters can be used in some fields (e.g name fields). Here is the standard character set, but almost any known set can be used (see +INFO above).

Commas within fields are permitted so long as that's how they appear in the source. Put the contents of the whole field in quotes. e.g. "St. Geo., Hanover Square" Where there is a fullstop at the end of a name that is not part of the row of fullstops that separates fields (in the later printed index) it should be transcribed.


Smith  John.......Aston,6d   999
Smith  John J.....Aston,6d   999
These assume NO full stop and none should be transcribed

Smith  John. .....Aston,6d   999
Smith  John J. ...Aston,6d   999
These assume full stop and should be transcribed.

Getting Help

When transcribing you might come across something you don't know how to transcribe. Your first source of information is the Transcribers' Knowlege Base; here your will find answers to a large number of questions that have been raised in the past and ti is likely that your query can be answered by one of these.

If you cannot find the answer here your next source of information is either your syndicate coordinator or the Admin mailing list. See here for information about how to use the mailing list.

Methods of Working

People have different preferred methods for keeping sane while transcribing. Here are a few ideas:

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