Transcription Guidelines

Transcription Guidelines (Summary)

The text should be follow as closely as possible, so that the source-layer of the text is recognizable. The transcription should reproduce the linguistic (including orthographic) content of the original, rather than just historical-factual content.

The basic rules are:

  • Spelling: Reproduce spellings from the source.
  • Cases: In general, use lower case. Use capital letters for the beginning of sentences and proper nouns.
  • Abbreviations: Spell out abreviations that are not ambiguous.
  • Coin Types and Measures: Simplify the denominations of coins and units of measures according to standard abbreviations.
  • Hyphenation, Compound Words, Punctuation: Follow modern rules.
  • Uncertain Readings: If you are uncertain that you have read the source correctly, mark it in the critical notes.
  • Gaps: Note when gaps and lacunae appear in the text.
  • Text Layout: The reproduced text should indicate the line breaks and foliation numbers from the manuscripts.
  • Different Scribal Hands: Note when there are different scribal hands, and label emmendations and additions in the same and different hands in the text.
  • Text Formatting: The critical apparatus appears below the main text. Provide a line count, as well.

Any reproduction of a text will always be an approximation. The following guidelines are recommendations and should be adopted to fit the particularities of the individual source that you're working with.

  • The source text should be reproduced to the letter, with the following exceptions:
    u/v/w In both Latin and German texts, u is used only for vowles and v and w for consonants. vv should be reproduced as a w.
    ∫/∫∫s The long ∫ should be reproduced as s, ∫∫ as ss.
    cz/tz Where it’s not necessary to distinguish cz from tz, use tz.
    J/j As initial and final sound, j should be written consistently as i, because it does not clearly have a distinctive function from j.
  • In general, use miniscule characters. Use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences and for proper nouns (place names, personal names, etc.).
  • Diacritical marks (above characters, as well as phoenetic marks) can provide additional phoenetic information:
    • Marks above vowels with clearly recognizable letter forms (a, e, i, o, u) should be insterted into the word after the vowel.
    • Marks above vowels that are not clearly identifiable as letters can take another of different forms. Two marks (../:) can be reproduced with two points above the vowel if it indicates an umlaut (ä, ö, ü).
    • One-element characters that clearly represent an accent aigu (é), grave (è), or circumflex (ê) should be reproduced as such.
    • All other marks should be represented with an accent grave.
    • Except: Marks intended only to distinguish characters (for example, ú and ÿ from n and j) should be omitted.
  • Notable features of the writing should be discussed in the introduction, along with selected notes, ornamentation, and other decorations (e.g. initials)
  • Straightfoward abbreviations can be expanded without comment. Abbreviations at the ends of words or lines should be resolved according to normal grammatical conventions.
  • Currencies should be given with the abbreviations lb, ß, d (pound, shilling, penny). Weights should be given with a consistent and abbreviated unit (for example, mt for Mütt, ml or mlt for Malter, kn for Kernen), or should be spelled out in an expanded form.
  • Roman numerals are reproduced with Hindu-Arabic numbers, with a note in the introduction.
  • Words should be written together or with spacing according to modern language rules. Word separation at the end of a line will depend on the particularities of the writer.
  • Punctuation follows modern conventions. It should be used sparingly to improve the reader's understanding of the text. If different ways of punctuating the text yield different meanings, you should comment on the difference in the critical apparatus. In addition, punctuation-like marks that determine the structure of the source text should be noted in the introduction.
  • If you're unsure about a reading, you should note it in the commentary. Unsure words and parts of words can be denoted in the reproduced text with parentheses or by an ellipsis in parentheses. Possible reading variants should be given in the notes.
  • Elisions and gaps should be given with an ellipsis but no parentheses and noted in the critical apparatus. Gaps or lacunae that result from use (holes, ink stains) or treatment of the material (binding) should be marked with three dots in square brackets, or with identifiable words or parts of words in square brackets. A note and reading suggestions can be made in the notes.
  • Obvious errors, such as letters written by accident or doublings of syllables or words, can be adjusted without comment. All remaining errors that were not corrected by the scribe should reproduced in their original state in the text. To clarify the meaning of the source text, missing words can be inserted in square brackets without note. In the textual commentary, errors should be noted when they show the use of an exemplar and when they affect the content of the text. When there is the possibility of misunderstanding or misprinting, an exclamation point between parentheses can be added.
  • The different scribal hands should be noted, and, when posssible, identified (distinguishing between the main text and glosses). A change in the hand in the main text or in ink should be noted in the commentary.
  • Marginal notes, glosses, changes, additions and deletions are included in the text and commented in the apparatus, with an identification of the scribe where appropriate. Placement in the text is according first to content, then to formal characteristics. Writing by modern hands (18th-20th centuries) should be noted in the critical apparatus.
  • The layout of the text in the transcription should follow that of the source text. Follow orginal linebreaks, marking them with a slash (/) if needed. Deviations from the original layout should be noted in the introduction.
  • Mark the folio or page number in square brackets at the beginning of the line wher it changes.
  • Original headings and numerations should be maintained.
  • Mention blank sheets and missing pages in the notes.
  • The notes to the text should be indexed with letters. The exact amount of text to which the note applies should be clear. You can use superscript letters thus: (aTexta). Use standard terms and phrases in your descriptions of the text: deletion, addition, correction, uncertain, illegible, corrupt, scraped, gloss, lacuna, addendum.
  • Observations and additional information are provided using a numerical index. These notes include information like dates and locations, as well as notes and commentary on the content of the text.
  • The mise-en-page for the reproduction should be as follows: Notes are placed below the text. A line count should be provided. At most two type sizes should be used. Emphasized text should be placed in italics, or, if necessary, in bold, but this should be done sparingly, for example for headers or titles.
  • The introduction should include a description of the source text, as well as:
    • An explanation of the text layout.
    • A description of the layout of the source text, as well as the pagination or foliation.
    • Changes to or adaptations of the standard transcription rules.
    • Commentary on the scribal hands and their identification, where possible.
    • Notes on the script type, style, and characteristics.
    • Chronological, geographical, and factual information about the source text, as well as any other context.
    • Context related to the origin, transmission, and use of the source text.
    • Biographical notes about the scribe, author, or patron.
    • Commentary and notes on particularities of the content.
  • The appendix includes abbreviations, as well as special characters and how they were reproduced.

Describing Manuscripts

  • Repository
    Library/archive and shelfmark (as well as any previous shelfmarks)

  • Material
    Parchment, paper, any watermarks, quality
  • Folios
    Number of folios or pages, new pages perhaps in Roman numerals

  • Format
    Size in cm of the body of the book

  • Dating
    As stated (or that no date is given), or datable century (perhaps with a more specific attribution, like first half, middle, second half)

  • Quires
    The different sections of the manuscript, gathering type (quaternion, quinion, sexternion), number, notable features (catchwords, quire signatures), original or later sewing, lost leaves or text, characteristics of the pagination (original or modern)

  • Organization/Layout of Text
    Dimensions, ruling, how the text blocks are divided (one or two columns), number of lines, perhaps paragraphs, structuring marks

  • Script
    Type, ink (black, brown, red), size, characteristics (display sripts, marking scripts, accentuations)

  • Scribe
    One or several (distinguish among different hands if necessary), known or unknown, corrections, glosses, annotations, addenda, pen trials (perhaps datable?)

  • Decorative Features
    Illumination, initials, illustrations, marginalia, other particular features (different fonts, size in cm or number of lines, colors used, geographic or chronological limits or characteristics)

  • Language
    Latin or German, spatial and temporal limits or characteristics

  • Binding
    Wooden/pasteboard covers, covering (leather, paper), decoration, clasp mechanisms, temporal (and possibly spatial) range (medieval, modern, contemporary), endpapers, other fragments used in the binding, bookplates, old signatures

  • Provenance
    Origin, place of origin, prices, owners' marks, later owners or repositories

  • Literature
    Publications/reports of or on the manuscript source

  • Content
    Author, title, perhaps topic, people involved, place

  • Other Notes
    Editions, reviews, examples, exemplars