Rules and tips

Rules and tips

There are two simple rules in Transcription:

  • Transcribe what you see, row by row
  • Always click "save"

We want the transcripts to be as useful for users as possible, therefore we have developed a set of easy How to transcribe conventions to stick by. 


Full colour images have been created of the historical tax records. The images can be manipulated in a number of ways to assist with the transcription process. Functions available are found in the small bar on the upper left hand side of the image viewer. These functions are here to test and use by trial and error.

Enlarge image

You can zoom into the image in two ways. Firstly, you can click the + botton on the image, will zoom into the image in stages. Secondly, on the image you can double click on the image. This will achieve the same result.

Expand image view

You can increase the amount of an image you see on the screen by clicking the button shown.

Scroll image on page

This is a useful function which allows the image to 'move down' the screen whilst you scroll.


Spelling, punctuation and abbreviation

You will learn very quickly that spelling, abbreviation and punctuation is very 'fluid' in historic records. The grammatical rules and spelling that we know and take for granted today did not apply with such rigour in the past. Often you will find no punctuation, liberal use of capital letters and spelling variants in the same sentence.

Despite all of these inconsistencies, we want you to transcribe the records as seen.

Ditto / Do / “

The use of ditto / Do / “ is common in historical records where columns of repetitive information was copied and repeated. In the transcription project, we require that the information which is intended to be repeated is entered in full.

Be careful to understand fully, and transcribe carefully the information that is intended to be repeated.


Titles such as Mr, Mrs, Sir, Lord or designations given after a name such as Esq, should simply be typed as they appear on the original record.

Commas, hyphens, ampersands

Punctuation will vary throughout the original records. In some cases it simply will not exist. Please do not be tempted to insert punctuation – we prefer that the records are transcribed as they are found in the original records. If punctuation exists, transcribe as you see it. If the ampersand is present, please use that.


Do not try to correct spelling. We want the transcriptions to be a true reflection of the text in the original record. Whilst it may look odd, this will increase our knowledge of place and personal name variants.



There are a number of conventions that we wish to adhere to when it comes to abbreviations. When forenames are abbreviated, we want those to be transcribed fully, for example, Alexr becomes Alexander; Jas becomes James; Jo. becomes John. A list of abbreviations can be found in the abbreviations guide.


Occupations which are abbreviated should be transcribed as they are. They should then be followed by the full expanded word in square brackets, for example merts comes [merchants]; and writ becomes [writer]. A list of abbreviations can be found in the abbreviations guide.


By this we mean elder, younger, of there and other examples. You will often find individuals styled Andrew Wilson yoe, meaning, Andrew Wilson younger. We would want this to be transcribed as Andrew Wilson yoe [younger].


Dates and numbers


Dates in the early Land and Hearth Tax will not be presented in a modern format. For dates between 1600 and 1750, often the year is written in a form which begins jaj (or variant). It is best to familiarise yourself with the dating guidance on the Scottish Handwriting website.

In the early Land and Hearth tax records, if the dates are given in this format, you should transcribe them as seen, but enter in square brackets, the year using Arabic numerals.

All other dates are likely to appear in a variety of formats, but they should be standardised using the format DD MMM YYYY, for example, 22 Oct 1785 or D MMM YYYY, for example, 2 Oct 1785


The Land and hearth and 18th century tax records are rich in numbers, particularly for financial sums. Before 1971, the UK operated a non-decimal monetary system. Units were based upon the penny, with there being 240 pence in one pound, 12 pence in one shilling, and 20 shillings in one pound. Latin terminology resulted in the terms Lsd being used to convey Libri – pounds, solidi – shillings and denarii – pence.

We have chosen to standardise the recording of currency by using the format £x.x.x, which should make reading financial sums more easy.

Letter forms and handwriting in earlier records, particularly the land and hearth tax can be difficult, so compare and contrast figures wherever you can to ensure you have transcribed the correct amount. The following table for the hearth tax showing the number of hearths and the amount of tax payable should assist in the transcription.