• Don’t worry about formatting.
  • Transcribe words as they are spelled or abbreviated. Resist the temptation to correct what you see in the document.
  • Do not transcribe text that has been crossed out.
  • Do not transcribe hyphens or spaces in words that occur at line breaks.
  • Indicate if you can’t decipher a word. If you are unsure of a word or phrase, please use [illegible], or your best guess followed by a question mark within brackets [Chattanooga?], or even [town?] or [name?].
    If you see the term [illegible] in a transcription, please try to decipher and transcribe the word.
  • Transcribe simple forms. Please try to transcribe all elements of the document, including typewritten text that may appear in a table, form, etc. Don’t worry about formatting the transcription. If a page is entirely typewritten, do not transcribe it.
  • Consider the context. If you’re having trouble with a word or passage, read “around” it and think about what a likely word would be, or look for other letters and spellings in the document that are similar.
  • Consult the Iowa Digital Library record. When you are viewing a particular document in DIYHistory you will see a link above the page image that says “view in Iowa Digital Library.” This takes you another view of the digitized document as well as to useful information such as names of people, places, subjects, and events, and links to full finding aids.
  • Be aware of contemporary spelling and abbreviations. Common eighteenth and nineteenth-century abbreviations and their full spellings include: inst. = a date in this month (e.g. the 15th inst.); ult. = a date in the previous month (5th ult.); &c = et cetera; Common “misspellings” and writing conventions: ware = were; thare = there; verry = very; evry = every; evning = evening; perhapse = perhaps; attacted = attacked; fiew = few; greaddeal or great eal or gread eal = great deal; fs = ss (e.g. mifses = misses); do = ditto.
  • Common Civil War abbreviations: QM = Quarter Master; Capt. = Captain; Lieut. or Lt. = Lieutenant; Maj. = Major; Col. = Colonel; Prov.Gen. = Provost General; Adjt. = Adjutant; Regt. = Regiment; Brig. = Brigade; Cav. = Cavalry; Inf. = Infantry; Vols. = Volunteers; Col. Inf. = Colored Infantry; R.R. = railroad; HdQrs. = Head Quarters
  • Questions about cookery: try websites such as Food and Linda's Culinary Dictionary for a chart of old units of measure.
  • Contact us for more specific questions/problems.