Help and reference

There are a number of reference resources that you can access for further help in your transcription work including other websites, forums, workshops and talks, and published books. Existing transcripts of some records sets might give a useful aid in deciphering the documents with another set of eyes. Contacting the Outreach Officer can give you one to one support with any transcription problems you may have.


These websites will provide supporting information, assistance and guidance for your work:

Scottish Handwriting provides tutorials, and guides to handwriting along with exercises which can help improve your palaeography.

National Records of Scotland Taxation Guide provides explanation of taxation records held by the National Records of Scotland.

University of Edinburgh runs evening classes in palaeography, in association with the University of Edinburgh's Office of Lifelong Learning.

Scottish Archives Network has guides about Scottish archives, including a glossary and a currency converter.

The National Archives (London) provides palaeography tutorials focused on English records, reference as well as practice tools.

Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) and the Dictionary of the Scots Tongue (DOST) combine to provide two major historical dictionaries to understand the Scots language.

Don't forget that you can use our forum to ask questions and talk to your fellow transcribers.


In addition to online sources, the following published works might be of use to you in your transcription work. Some are still available to purchase, however a number are out of print and may only be available via second hand selling sources.

Scottish Handwriting self help pack - Scottish Handwriting 1500-1700: a self-help pack. Publisher: Scottish Records Association and the National Archives of Scotland. ISBN: 1 870874 04 8. Pages: 28 plus 13 facsimiles. 

Scottish Handwriting 1150-1650, An Introduction to the Reading of Documents. Publisher: Aberdeen University Press, 1973. ISBN: 0-08-034516-6 A useful guide for 17th century hearth and land tax records.

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors. Publisher: Birlinn Ltd, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-78027-022-7. Pages: 256

Tracing Scottish Local History. Publisher: HMSO, 1996 ISBN: 0 11 495231 0 Pages: 176 

The Concise Scots Dictionary. Publisher: Aberdeen University Press, 1985. ISBN: 0-08-028491-4 can help with understanding Scots words and phrases

The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning and History. Publisher: Birlinn Ltd, 1987. ISBN: 1-87474483-1