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Help and advice for Will Transcriptions for GENUKI/Devon

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Will Transcriptions for GENUKI/Devon

The following guidelines have been produced for the use of people who have kindly offered to provide transcriptions of wills, or of published will summaries, for inclusion in GENUKI/Devon. The guidelines are particularly relevant for the production of new transcripts - however it would be very helpful if pre-existing transcripts could be edited if necessary so as to adhere to at least those guidelines concerning the provision of reference details, and the identification of transcriber's comments. (Suggestions for improving or clarifying these guidelines are welcome.)

- if in any doubt about these guidelines, check with me, and if appropriate let me see a first few lines of your transcript, before you have gone very far, so that I can provide feedback.

- transcriptions should be provided in separate files, with a file name that includes the exact name, the parish concerned, and the year that the will was proved (e.g. "SamuelChalliceLapford1780".

- all transcriptions should include at their head an indication of the location of the original document, and full reference details.

- for transcriptions of wills obtained from DocumentsOnline please provide (using copy and paste) at the head of the document the full catalogue details, e.g.

Description Will of Peter Heard, Tanner of Clovelly, Devon
Date 17 July 1660
Catalogue reference PROB 11/299
Dept Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Series Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers
Piece Name of Register: Nabbs Quire Numbers: 106 - 160

- similarly for Estate Duty wills, found using A2A, please provide at the head of the document (using copy and paste) the full reference details as given in the A2A Catalogue, e.g.

FILE ref. 1078/IRW/H/654 - date: 1850
Henry Hearder of Stokeinteignhead, Devon

- and for will summaries (from the Olive Moger collection, obtained from the Devon Record Office or the Westcounty Studies Library), please indicate at the head of the document where you obtained it, and give the full catalogue details, e.g.

Summary of Will of John Harder of Bittadon, Clerk 1719 [Olive Moger Collection 8/36, West Country Studies Library, Exeter]

- if the document is in private hands, this should be indicated at the head of the document or (better) the name of the owner given.

- there is no need to seek permission to publish a transcription of a will obtained from The National Archives, e.g. using their Documents Online service, since such wills are regarded as Crown Copyright; similarly there is no need to seek permission to publish transcriptions of Estate Duty Wills, or of Moger will transcripts, obtained from the Devon Record Office - however in all other cases, or if in any doubt, a check should be made as to whether any prior permission is required

- transcriptions should be as accurate as possible, and retain the original spelling.

- if it is appropriate to expand an abbreviated word, put the letters that you have added in square brackets [ ].

- use such square brackets to indicate any and all additions or comments, so that it is clear which text appears in the original document and which you have added.

- when an individual letter or sequence of letters is unreadable, represent it by a period or sequence of periods enclosed in square brackets

- when a transcription of a word is uncertain follow it by a question mark in square brackets, or by an alternative reading of the word and a question mark in square brackets.

- transcriptions are ideally produced using Microsoft WORD, or equivalent (with smart quotes, and autoformatting, turned off), or using a simple plain text editor

- if it is wished to represent the original layout (e.g. columnar) of some text, do not do this using multiple spaces and tab characters, instead in WORD use a table, and avoid using the carriage return character within any table cells

- if it is wished to represent the original appearance of some text, it would be very helpful, and greatly reduce my editing task, if transcribers surround the transcribed words or letters by appropriate "tags", as well as or instead of using WORD's text styling facilities; delineate boldface by the tags <b> and </b>, italics by <i> and </i>, large letters by <big> and </big> and superscript letters by <sup> and </sup>.


Useful guidance on reading old handwriting, and on preparing transcriptions, can be found in The National Archives' Palaeography pages, at:

in How to Read 18th Century British-American Writing:

in the Medieval Writing website:

and Sabina Murray's Deciphering Old Handwriting pages