Skip to main content

Basics: Transcription

Section 5: Summary of Transcription Conventions

That was a lot to take in at once. Below is a summary of the symbols you will use in your transcriptions in the coming lessons. If you bear in mind the principles covered earlier in this lesson about respecting and recording the scribe's usage, you'll have plenty of chances to practice using these conventions, and we'll remind you of them with each exercise in the lessons to come.

( ) Expanded abbreviation
[ ] Scribal erasure
[ / ] Scribal erasure and correction (left of slash left blank if erased letter is illegible,
recorded if it is legible — e.g. [h/d]omini for scribal correction of h to d)
[[ ** ]]   Portion of text lost through damage and illegible. Number of asterisks = approximate number of lost letters,
where possible to estimate. Otherwise leave space between brackets blank.
/ \ Scribal insertion on the line
\ / Scribal insertion between the lines
\\ // Scribal insertion in margin

Note: You will encounter variations and expansions on this system in other paleographic manuals, encoding systems, and publishers' stylesheets. If you practice transcribing with this set of symbols in the exercises in this course, you will develop the habit of observing the manuscript closely and recording what you can really see. That is the most important lesson. You can then apply those skills to different editorial situations.