My Top 4 Transcription Tips

methods & strategies May 05, 2022

Did you know that I transcribe every genealogy record I find? This may seem like overkill, but it has made a world of difference in my genealogy research. Why? Because it forces me to slow down and actually read every word a record has to offer, and that alone, is what leads to the answers I seek (or at least clues that put me on the right path to the answer). Plus, I get a readable digital copy that I can annotate with notes, questions, observations, and hypotheses.

Here are my top four tips when it comes to transcribing:

  1. Fight the urge to make corrections! A transcription means an exact copy, errors and all.
  2. To help with #1, turn off auto-correct and auto-format features so that your software doesn’t inadvertently make corrections.
  3. To help keep you sane while transcribing, turn off spell-check and grammar-check so those red and blue lines don’t make your head spin.
  4. Use modern versions of obsolete letterforms (such as the long s or the thorn). Most people will not understand what the old letterform is, and this way, you don’t have to hunt down the correct symbol.

If you’d like to see how I work on a transcription, including a quick analysis of the record and how I manage my notes, check out this YouTube video:

Now it’s time for you to take action. I challenge you to transcribe the next record you find in your research. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find by taking the time to do so. And don’t forget to follow my top four tips above 😀


I hope you enjoyed this article and that you’re ready to see the power of transcription for yourself. If you found this article helpful, be sure to add the Genealogy In Action blog to your favorite RSS reader.


© Julie Tarr. This article was first published at Genealogy In Action; appearance of this article elsewhere, without my permission, violates copyright.