Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started
Transcription Tips
Other Questions

Getting Started

Do I need to log in to transcribe?You do not need to log in to add transcriptions. However, if you would like to register, it will allow you to keep track of what you have transcribed and make comments on transcription pages. Also, registration allows the project to track our transcribers and reward those who contribute most to our transcription project. From any page, click on "Sign Up Now". Then, enter a login, your email address, a password, and your display name and click "Create new account." You are then ready to transcribe as a registered user. Please see our Privacy Policy.

What do I do if I find a mistake in the transcription?You are able to fix mistakes made by yourself or others by simply changing the text and clicking "Save Changes". If you think your work needs to be reviewed by someone else, please click the "Needs Review" button located next to "Save Changes".

Can I save an incomplete transcription?If you can't complete a transcription, please go ahead and mark the "Needs Review" button and then select "Save Changes." This will allow you or other transcribers to go back at a later date and complete the transcription.

How can I see the entire imagePlease use the "Fullscreen" button to see as much of the image as possible. It may also be helpful to move the image to the right, top, or bottom by clicking on "Image at the left" and selecting one of the other options.

SavingPlease remember to save frequently, as your transcriptions will not be retained until you click "Save Changes".
Transcription Tips

Type what you seePlease type the words as they appear on the page. Retain misspelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. If a word is continued from one page to the next, please type only the characters that appear on that page. Use normal reading order (top to bottom, left to right) whenever possible. Example

FormattingIt is helpful to provide hard returns at the ends of titles and other headings, as well as at the end of paragraphs. Please ignore all other formatting on the page, including tabs, indents, italics, and smallcaps. Example

Sensitive images and textMaterials in the transcription project are historical. As such, they may contain racial or sexual stereotypes that are inappropriate by today's standards. They have been retained in order to fully represent the materials in their original context, and they should be transcribed following the same procedures as the other texts.

Illegible textIf you can't read text on the page for any reason, please indicate it by using [illegible]. If you think you can discern a word, but you are not entirely sure, you may add it in brackets followed by a question mark, for example [guess?]. If the legibility problem is because of difficult handwriting or faded microfilm, please indicate this in the page notes. It may be helpful to use the site's zoom features to enhance readability. Example

Scientific or legal termsPlease let us know in the page notes if you have any challenges with scientific or legal terminology. We can locate our campus colleagues who may be able to help with the transcription or we may have other examples for comparison.

Photographs and other graphical elementsIf there is readable text within the photograph or graphic, please transcribe that text, but otherwise you need not indicate the images. Example

Blank pagesIf a page contains no text (the page is completely blank or has only graphical elements), select the "Mark as blank" box located next to "Save Changes" and then "Save Changes".

Special characters, including Greek lettersIf the character is a regular keyboard character, please enter it. For all other characters, please describe the symbol in brackets: ie [square root]. For Greek letters, please spell out: ie, Omega. Example

Personal inscriptions and library markingsMany printed texts contain extraneous marks, including personal inscriptions and library markings. This text does not need to be transcribed. If you are in doubt about whether something needs to be transcribed, please leave a note in the page notes. Example

Other problemsPlease use the page notes section for problems with or questions about transcriptions.
Other Questions

What are the goals of this project?The Transcribe Our Past project hopes to make available, in a searchable form, primary sources from our collections. These materials provide an invaluable resource to historians, students, alumni, and others interested in the University of Nebraska.

What happens to the material I submit?After we've gathered transcriptions of the the pages, we hope to make those transcribed pages available to the public for research. One example of this can be seen with the Cornhusker yearbooks, which are searchable at

Why transcribe, why not just OCR?For some pages, Optical Character Recognition software, which automatically creates searchable text from images of text, would be a reasonable approach. However, many pages are hand-written or may include script, Greek characters, or distinctive layouts which would prove problematic for OCR software to read. It is our belief that human transcribers are the most effective way to create a searchable text of these materials.

Are other transcription projects in the works?Yes, as pages on the Transcribe site are completed, the University Libraries hopes to continue to add other transcription projects.

Contribution policyTranscribers do not retain intellectual property rights to any material submitted. All contributions to Transcribe Our Past including page notes are visible to the public and should not contain any information that should not be broadcast to the public. All contributions can be edited or deleted by others and will be deleted by project staff if they contain vulgar, offensive, or threatening language of any kind, or are clearly off-topic. Please report suspected inappropriate material to us here.