FreeBMD Comments in Transcriptions

This page gives advice to transcribers on the use of the comment lines #COMMENT, #THEORY and other lines starting with #.

Types of comment line

There are three types of comment line as follows:
Line starts with #COMMENT
Used to indicate that what has been transcribed differs in some way from what is in the index, e.g. #COMMENT handwritten addendum says "see Mar 1887". This type of comment will be accessible from the search results and will enable a researcher to determine that viewing the scan may be useful.
Line starts with #THEORY
Used to indicate that what has been transcribed is what is in the index but there is reason to believe the index is wrong, e.g. "#THEORY surname should probably be Lane not Laine due to name sequence". The reason for the assertion should be given. However, #THEORY should not be used to record possible errors in the district, volume or page number; such errors are handled automatically by the system. This type of comment will be accessible from the search results and will alert a researcher to take into account the possible error in the index. Such comments will also be reviewed to determine if System Entries should be generated for them.
Line starts with # (not followed by COMMENT or THEORY)
Used to give information about the transcription, e.g. # scan got very faint at this point. This type of comment will not be accessible from the search results but may be useful to syndicate coordinators when reviewing transcriptions. WinBMD and SpeedBMD use this type of comment to include information about the transcription immediately after the header with a format of #,volumeformat,username,syndicate,filename,date,flag,flag,... FreeBMD only takes note of the syndicate name from this line (this is the only instance in which FreeBMD uses information from this type of comment).
Please note that there is no space between the # and COMMENT/THEORY. If a space is inserted the comment is of the third type.

Independence of information

The information entered in #COMMENT and #THEORY must stand on its own and not refer to other entries, in particular it should not make reference to the next, above, following or previous entry but rather should preferably be applied to both lines with a multi-line comment, such as
#COMMENT(2) Entry has surname & forenames as an insert then bracketed together with original entry
or, where this is not possible, give information that identifies the entry. For example,
#COMMENT This entry has surname & forenames as an insert then bracketed with entry John Rutherford Easthope

The reason for this is that when a comment is displayed it is shown with the entry to which it applies and references such as "the previous entry" have no meaning and are actually confusing. Furthermore, when entries are listed in the results the next or previous entry may not be the same as in the transcription, for example if the search had been for entries with a specific Mother's name. Researchers have no method of looking at the transcription to determine what, for example, the "next entry" is.

Reference must also not be made to line numbers, that is the line number assigned by WinBMD. Such line numbers are not available to researchers finding the record.

Using the appropriate comment

The rules for chosing the appropriate type of comment are: Using the wrong type of comment causes confusion and may cause others to have to do extra work to sort it out.


When choosing the content of the comment consider the readership and what they will understand by the comment
These types of comment are aimed at researchers who find the record when searching the database. Do not assume that they will understand the transcription process or transcription jargon (such as Type What You See).
# (on its own)
These comments will be seen only by those looking at the transcription (not those searching the database) and can therefore use concepts that would be understand by a transcriber.

Facts only

For #COMMENT/#THEORY the content of the the comment should be limited to facts. Assumptions or speculation, for example about why the index was recorded as it was, must be avoided because researchers may assume that the transcriber had access to additional information in order to make the comment.

Examples of deprecated usage

The following are examples of what should not be used:
#THEORY next surname Hope
a comment always refers to the preceding line
#THEORY previous surname probably Hope because of alphabetic sequence
a comment always refers to the preceding line so this should just be "#THEORY surname probably Hope because of alphabetic sequence"
#THEORY surname Hope
a #THEORY should give a reason for the assertion
#COMMENT Next 3 Lines Crossed Out And Overstamped
use #COMMENT(3) after the first of the three lines with "Crossed out and overstamped"
a single comment on the first entry "line crossed out"
#COMMENT Next entries are Paxman to Paxton, bracketed, with a note in margin on following page where they should be inserted
multiple comment on the entries "note in margin on following page indicates where entry should be"
#COMMENT (4) The next entry is crossed out
Should just be "Entry is crossed out"
#THEORY the next two entries are the same person
Omit as there is no indication the index is actually wrong. Unjustified assumptions should not be included, especially when purporting to be factual
#THEORY entry out of alpha sequence
Neither a #COMMENT nor a #THEORY so should be just #
#THEORY bracketed with next entry
Should be "#COMMENT(2) bracketed with another entry
#THEORY(2) double surname entry
Neither a #COMMENT nor a #THEORY - should be omitted
#THEORY Volume should be XX (20) Page Number is in expected range for Warrington
This information is reported automatically by the system, so it should be omitted.
#COMMENT(2) Line 111 and 113 both Shirley SAME District and number
Comments must not refer to line numbers; this is neither a #COMMENT nor a #THEORY and should be a plain # comment
#THEORY(2) Entries may be duplicates
Omit as there is no indication the index is actually wrong - unjustified assumptions should not be included
#COMMENT blank page
The transcription does not differ from the scan so should just be "# blank page" if required by syndicate (the system does not require indication of blank pages)
#THEORY Line 98 district should Brecknock
Do not refer to line numbers as these are not available to those reading the comment.
#COMMENT given name difficult to read, could be Charles Wiggett or Charles Higgett
Use Uncertain Character Format and no comment
#COMMENT(2) Entries out of sequence
Neither a #COMMENT nor a #THEORY so should be just #
#COMMENT see scan for 1934M3 where page is 57 (after a late entry reference)
The transcription does not differ from scan so should not be #COMMENT - late entry references are handled automatically by the system unless unrecognised in which case use #THEORY,REF
#COMMENT Southam in picklist has district no XVI
Picklist is a transcription tool not available to (or understandable by) researchers

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