Transcription Tips & Guidelines

The Basics

We are trying to create accurate, legible transcriptions of Jane Addams's papers. Most of the formatting will be done by project staff as they review your transcriptions. Getting the text right should be your focus -- it is the most important thing!

Don't add punctuation or words that you think should be there.

This is a digital publication and our reader's screen sizes will vary.

Don't indent paragraphs, just add an extra line. Add line breaks to preserve lists, like addresses or lists within the document text.

It is hard to tell the difference between a period and an comma, or between an upper case "C" and a lower case "c".

Don't include notes, marks, or stamps made by later researchers, archivists. or are filing instructions. They are often written in a corner or margin, and say things like "File" or "Addams, Jane." Sometimes people include a suggested year in brackets for documents that don't have them. We don't include any of these kinds of notes.

Hard to Read?

Don't worry if you can't read a word, a line, or more. Do your best, and others will review and edit the transcription to make it better. Every little bit helps! Consult our guide to Jane Addams' handwriting to get familiar with her particular style.

If you can guess what a word says, either from context, or from the letters that you can make out, put it in [square brackets].

If it is a wild guess, and you aren't that sure, add a [question mark?]

If you cannot read the word or words, put the marker [illegible] where the word was, or [illegible words] where more than one word are.

Inserted and deleted text

We try to indicate where the authors thoughts changed. In the final digital edition we will indicate struck out and indented words.

If the author deleted some words, and you can read them, add them in square brackets: [deleted words]. Don't bother if it is just a letter or two, a false start or a hand corrected misspelling--we will give our authors the benefit of the doubt.

If the author inserted some words and you can read them, add them in <angle brackets>.

Note that if the document includes both deleted and inserted text in the same sentence, the order should be deleted, and then inserted.

If the recipient or another person made notes on the document, add them at the very bottom and describe the location, such as [written at bottom of page 2] "Thank her for me, J.A."

Special Cases


We transcribe the company or personal name and the address only.

We don't transcribe the mottos, or names of officers that might be listed on the stationery.

If there are multiple printed addresses and you can tell where the letter came from, use only that address.

Special characters

Some of our documents contain foreign words that need special characters. You can cut and paste from this list if needed,

  • Grave - à, è, ì, ò, ù, À, È, Ì, Ò, Ù
  • Acute - á, é, í, ó, ú, ý, Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ý
  • Carat/Circumflex - â, ê, î, ô, û, ð, Â, Ê, Î, Ô, Û, Ð
  • Tilde - ã, ñ, õ, Ã, Ñ, Õ
  • Umlaut - ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ, Ä, Ë, Ï, Ö, Ü, Ÿ
  • Angstrom - å, Å
  • Ligatures - æ, œ, Æ, Œ or ß
  • Caron/Cedilla - ç, Ç
  • O with a slash - ø, Ø
  • Punctuation - ¿ , ¡, §
  • Eszett - ß
  • Money - ¢, £

If you have a lot of foreign characters in your document, you might want to type the transcription in Type It and then paste it into the transcription box.

For fractions, use 1/2 rather than a special character (½).


Some documents, especially published ones, have images embedded in them. It might be a picture of Jane Addams, a group of Hull-House children, or a cartoon. Obviously you can't transcribe them, but we do want to mark their place in the transcription.

Wherever the image appears, add the text [image] and then keep on transcribing the document.

If the image has a caption, [image -  enter the caption text]

If a whole page is an image, just type [image - caption text] and then go to the next page.

Columns and Tables

Some of our documents have lists written in columns or have tables. It is very difficult to render these in Scripto.

If the list has columns, but it is a simple list-- name, address, phone number, you can render all the info on one line.

If there is a table, with numbers and columns, just type [table goes here] and leave it for us!