Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dear Randy - How Do You Do Your Record Transcriptions?

I received a question from Genea-Musings reader Sandra, asking;

"How do you do your record transcription? Are you using a particular software program and/or system for your research?"

Dear Sandra,

I don't use special software to do it.  I've heard of Transcript, which some genealogists use to transcribe records and documents, but I haven't used it.  

I used to do it in the dark ages (about 5 years ago and before digital images became prevalent) by having the photocopy on my physical desktop and then type into the word processor.  Since the photocopy was fixed resolution and size, I used the magnifying glass a lot and often lost my place in the document when I looked away to type and then looked back to see what to type next (I have to watch my fingers when I type...not the screen!).

1)  Now I do mine the enlightened digital way (well, the old digital way) - I use two windows on my desktop PC - one window for my word processing program and one window for the digital image.  I usually do them top and bottom rather than side-by-side, like this:

I like having a full screen width for the document image so I can try to read the letters and words.

When I need the next bit of the document image, I just scroll down a little.  Then I click back into the word processor (I use LibreOffice Writer) and type until I have to scroll the document some more.  I can resize the two windows as I wish.  I can also change the magnification of the document image to show more lines or zoom in to decipher letters or a word as I need to.

This works well for me...I can focus on the 3-5 lines of document image and type the lines, and proofread them, before I  go on to the next set of lines.  I don't get lost using this method because I have only a few lines to compare.  This is particularly useful for handwritten documents like probates and deeds.  I save the word processing file and put it in the file folder for the person of interest - the same file folder that has the document image.

When I'm done with the transcription, I can copy the text and paste it into the Blogger editor field and write text around it for an Amanuensis Monday post.

2)  However, when I do blog posts transcribing (usually) typed documents for Treasure Chest Thursday, I usually do it the other way - with windows side-by-side.  That's easier for me because the Blogger editor doesn't do top-bottom very well - the Blogger header and menu take up most of the room for half of the window height.  Here is how it looks top and bottom:

And here is how it looks side-by-side:

I find it easier to do it side-by-side when I transcribe right into the Blogger editor.

3)  Either way I do it, I then can copy the text transcribed and paste it into the Person Notes and/or Fact Notes in my database program.

That's what works for me.  If you had two screens, it would be easier, but there would be more glancing between two monitors.  This way it's a vertical or sideways glance to see the next set of words to be transcribed - I usually don't have top move my head, only my eyes..

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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