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 Transcription Proofreading 

Proofreading is a very important part of getting your census information as accurate as possible before placing it on the Internet.  In addition to the normal typing errors that WILL occur even for the very best typists, the accuracy of deciphering the enumerator's handwriting will benefit greatly by a second pair of eyes.

Finding a proofreader is the transcriber's responsibility, and this should be done as soon as possible as you near the end of your transcription (or end of an Enumeration District on a large census). Be sure your proofreader understands what is involved in proofreading, and that they will proofread in a timely manner.

If you've exhausted all the other recommendations for how to find a proofreader -- (below under "Decisions for the Transcriber, Q: Who will proofread your transcription",) as a last resort, Email the Proofreading Coordinator for help with finding a Proofreader.

 Decisions for the Transcriber 
Q:   Should you wait until the entire county is transcribed before having the proofreader start?
A:   If you are transcribing a large census, you might want to have the proofreader start after you finish the first Enumeration District or township division.

Q:   Will you need more than one proofreader?
A:   If this is a large census and you are a fast typist, you might want to consider having more than one proofreader.

Q:   Who will proofread your transcription?
A:   Suggestions:
  • A family member, friend, or neighbor who shares your genealogy interests.  They are close at hand and can share the source material, and are nearby for nagging purposes.
  • CENSUS-List:  The subscribers on this email list are census transcribers and they are already know how to transcribe and will make good proofreaders.
  • The State/county Mail List for the state and county you are transcribing.  The subscribers on the county email list already have an interest in the county, and you might find a willing proofreader.  You will need to check to make sure they understand what is involved in proofreading your census.
  • The Proofreader Exchange. As a "last resort" if you still need a proofreader.

Q:   Will you furnish and send the source material (the microfilm, or printed copies of the microfilm, or CD) to the proofreader?

         ~ or ~

    Will the proofreader be responsible for getting his/her own source material?



  • Does the Proofreader have the same spreadsheet software or CART software as the Transcriber? The Census Project File Manager can assist with converting the files for the Proofreader, if necessary.

  • Deciding which proofreading method to use should be a combined decision by both the Transcriber and the Proofreader.

  • The following is a list of several proofreading methods. If you prefer an alternate method, discuss it with the Proofreader to make sure it is agreeable with the Proofreader.



[a] Insert two color-coded columns -- one on the right of the LAST-NAME column, and the other on the right of the FIRST-NAME column. Type each proofreading name difference in the proper color-coded column so it is in the cell to the right of the cell in question. For the rest of the columns, type the proofreading change in the actual cell replacing what was there and color-code the cell so the Transcriber knows which cells have been changed. With this method when the Transcriber gets the file back, he/she can review the color-coded NAME columns to see which version of the name to retain. If the Transcriber disagrees with the proofread name, the Transcriber can simply delete it, and if the Transcriber agrees with the proofread name - the name can be moved to the regular column.

[b] Insert a color-coded column to the immediate-right of any column that requires proofreading corrections. Type each proofreading difference in the color-coded column so it is in the cell to the right of the cell in question. This makes one color-coded column for each column that has at least one correction, and depending on the census year and number of columns this method could require quite a few columns.

[c] Type the proofreading corrections right in each cell that needs corrected and color-code the cell. With this method, the Transcriber does not get to see what was replaced. My personal preference on this one is to only do this option when I know the Proofreader is very good and I trust his/her judgment.

[d] Same as option [c] but without color-coding the corrected cells.

[e] Have the Proofreader type up a separate list describing where the suggested corrections are and what they should be. This is the hardest for the Proofreader because it requires a lot more typing to describe the differences.

2)     CART files: 

[a] Have the Proofreader type up a separate list describing where the suggested corrections are and what they should be. Each record in CART has an identifying Record-Number. The list should include the Record-Number and the Fields being revised within that record.

[b] Have the Proofreader make the corrections in the CART file.


3)     Printed copy

The Proofreader will mark pencil corrections on a printed copy of the transcription and send the marked-up printed copy back to the Transcriber to make the corrections to the Spreadsheet or CART data file.

a) The Proofreader needs to be aware there will be a postage expense for mailing the printed copy back to the Transcriber and agree to do so.

b) Does the Proofreader have the same software as the Transcriber in order to print the file, and a printer? Or will the Transcriber print and mail the printed copy of the transcribed file to the Proofreader?

Find a Volunteer at the Proofreader's Exchange !

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Information updated on Sunday, 26-Jan-2014 18:39:43 CST