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Transcription Guidelines

General guidelines for transcribing Ur documents:

  • Zoom in using navigation buttons in the window or with the mouse wheel to examine documents more closely. The field note scans are not extreme quality, but you should be able to make out the individual words as clearly as they were written. As you zoom further in, you will need to pan across the document to read. This may make it difficult to type quickly, but the process is about accuracy. The zoom window has been made as wide as possible but will attempt to scale to your screen, so some computers may show less of the document in the window than others.
  • There are some form documents in the letters collections, such as shipping forms and cablegrams. These documents have a good deal of standard text on them (like the agreements that are being initialed for the contract). This text does not need to be transcribed -- only the text of the cable or the specific terms of a shipping contract should be transcribed.
  • Don't be overly concerned with formatting. You will find, for example, that in the transcribe window you cannot right justify. So if something like a date or a signature in a letter appears at the right of the page, just type it at the left. The text is what matters, not where it is positioned in most cases. Even though they won't show in the version displayed by Scripto, you can put carriage returns at the end of each line on the card. This will be preserved in the main database and may help later. Indents are not necessary, however. Use an extra return to indicate new paragraph. Some additional emphasis is important:
    • When underlining is indicated in a document, use bold instead. This can be created in wiki by using three single quote marks before and after the word. For example, '''bold''' will create bold
    • Words that have been struck through should be preserved. Wiki markup for this is <strike> </strike>
    • Some entire note pages have strike marks across the page. This means it was considered when initial publication was completed but we still want transcriptions. You don't need to show everything with <strike> however.
    • For additional guidelines on wiki markup language, follow the link below the transcription window marked 'wiki formatting help'.
  • Preserve the spelling in the document, even if incorrect.
  • If you cannot make out a word, replace it with [undecipherable] or [?] in brackets as shown. If you have an idea what the word is but are not sure, surround that word with brackets and question marks as such: [?example?].
  • Preserve punctuation of the document, even if incorrect.
  • If you can reproduce a symbol using your keyboard, do so. Otherwise make a note describing the symbol in [brackets]. Woolley often uses a + to indicate the word 'and'. Use the ampersand (&) for this character.
  • Record marginalia or notes written on the document. Use <ins> </ins> for inserted text. Sometimes it is not possible to identify inserted text in handwritten notes, so don't be overly concerned about marking what is inserted and what is not.
  • Illustrations are very important but cannot be reproduced in transcription. Instead, they must be noted in brackets as follows: [drawing]. If there is an indication of the scale, include that information. Example: [drawing 1:1]. It is best to categorize the drawing as well: [drawing (architectural sketch)], [drawing (artifact: pot)] etc. A list of standard types of drawings that appear will be placed under the terminology page. Text within the drawing can be noted as such: [drawing (plan of tomb) labeled]. The labels themselves may be transcribed in the brackets where feasible: [drawing (artifact: pot) labeled 665 =IL35].
  • Save your work often. Do this by pressing the 'Edit Transcription' button below the transcription window. Text and markup formatting should appear correctly in the 'Current Page Transcription' window that appears below that.
  • Discuss your transcription decisions using the 'Show Discussion' link to record your notes. You will need to select 'Edit' once you have shifted to the discussion page and save your comments with the 'Edit Discussion' button.
  • If you would like to see an example of a page with transcription done by the site manager in testing the usability of the site and creating these guidelines, see: Ur_Notes_v1_p003.jpg, or one with more problems: Ur_Notes_v1_p015.jpg  Most pages tagged House 30 have also been transcribed with an effort towards standardization.
  • When you have finished transcribing a page, press the 'Import Document' button above the zoom window to attach the transcription record to the image in the database.
  • Have questions about a transcription or words/references in the document? Leave a note for the editor in the 'Show Discussion' area of the document you are transcribing or email directly.

TIP: You can find out which documents do not have transcriptions associated by going to 'Advanced Search', selecting 'Scripto Transcription' in 'Narrow by Specific Fields' and 'is empty' beneath that, then pressing the 'Search' button. We are working on adding tags to the files so that they will be searchable under other categories as well.

Ur Crowdsource is a portion of the Ur Digitization Project conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the British Museum. The project is funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. All images posted here are copyright Trustees of the Two Museums.