Transcription Guidelines

Any kind of text reproduction is fundamentally an approximation. The following guidelines are recommendations and they should be adopted to fit the particularities of an individual source.

The Basic Rule:

The text should be followed as exactly as possible, so that the text layers of the source are recognizable. The transcription should reproduce the linguistic (including orthographic) form of the original, and not just the historical-factual content.

  • The source text should be reproduced to the letter.
  • Use miniscule letters, except for at the beginning of sentences and for proper nouns.
  • Abbreviated words should be written out.
  • Currency denominations should be given as standard abbreviations (lb, s, d, for pund, schilling, penny).
  • Measures should be given using a standardized unit abbreviation.
  • Roman numerals should be tranlsated to Hindu-Arabic numerals.
  • Obvious errors or slips of the pen should be fixed.
  • Words should be compounded or separated according to modern language rules.
  • Retain the linebreaks from the source text, along with breaks in words at the ends of lines
  • Additions should be inserted at he appropriate point in the text.
  • Punctuation should be inserted according to modern rules, and should improve the reader's comprehension of the text. In the transcription exercises, the punctuation is not altered. 

The source text should be reproduced letter-for-letter. Except...


  • 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.
  • long ∫/ß: The long ∫ should be reproduced as s, ß as ß.
  • cz/tz: Where it’s not necessary to distinguish, use tz.
  • J/j: As an initial and final sound, j should be written consistently as i, because it does not clearly have a distinctive function from j.

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