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This is a guide to participating in the Library's transcription projects.

Write exactly what you see

  • Don’t correct spelling or grammar
  • These are historic documents and, as such, you may run across offensive material. Transcribe as is.

Ignore line breaks

  • Using complete words makes the text easier to search, even if the original word is split between lines and joined by a hyphen. Words that regularly include a dash can be kept that way, i.e. “so-so.”

Unclear content

  • If you can't tell what something says, indicate it like so: [unclear]
  • Or, if you have an idea of what it might say - [Abernathy?]

Unusual text layout

  • Some of the pages will have creative text layout and the text may not always be left to right, top to bottom.
  • Take into account the unusual layouts and transcribe the page in the way that makes sense to you.


  • You won’t be able to indicate if something is bolded or underlined in the transcription tool, so just concentrate on transcribing the words.
  • If multiple dashes or dots appear, you can just use three dashes or dotes (--- or … ) rather than typing out each dot or dash.

Need help?

Yearbook covers

Digital Initiatives


Digital Scholarship and Initiatives Department

204 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames, IA  50011

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