Viewing and Transcribing Pages

Each individual page listed in the document-view needs to be transcribed in order to complete the document’s full transcription. In order to work with a page you have two options. 

  • One, clicking on the thumbnail or the page title will bring you to that particular item. Here, you can do a number of media-level tasks, described in more detail below.

  • Two, clicking on the Transcribe link will by-pass the media-level page and take you directly to the transcription page, described in the next section. 

These two screencasts cover transcribing documents and working with the notes feature:


Clicking on the thumbnail or page title will take you to the media-level view. The top of the page displays the document title first, followed by the page number of this media item within the document. Below, Original title displays the unique filename for this page. Clicking on the hyperlinked document title will take you back to the document-level view. Clicking on the hyperlinked original title will simply reload the page you are already on. 

The main part of this page displays the Media Viewer on the left and any saved Transcription text on the right. If this particular page has its own detailed information separate from the larger document, it will be displayed below. The Media Viewer allows you to more closely view the document in order to assess the handwriting, complexity, and condition of the document. Use the tool bar at the top to zoom in or out, rotate left or right, or reset the image to fill the viewer. The Transcription section gives you a sense of how much of the transcription has been completed, if any, and to quickly scan for any potential revisions. If you decide that you want to work with a different page in this document you can use the arrows on the right side of the header to toggle through them. 

The options included in the bar above the Media Viewer and Transcription display provide four options for working with this page: 

  • Transcribe, brings you to the main transcription page, outlined in more detail in the next section.
  • Browse revision history, allows you explore the changes made to this document by you and/or other users, as well as compare any discrepancies between versions. Learn more about revision history in a later section.
  • View Notes, brings you to the discussion page for this media item where you can write notes or questions to be read by other volunteers and the PWD editorial team. Learn more about the discussion page in a later section.
  • Track Media, allows you to add this item to your Watchlist by clicking on this button. If you want to remove this item from your Watchlist simply click "Stop Tracking Page." You can access your Watchlist from your Dashboard, allowing you to quickly scan In Progress media. Learn more about the Watchlist by scrolling to the bottom of the User Accounts documentation page.

Transcribing Pages

This section will tell you how to navigate through the Transcription page. For guidelines about transcribing please see our Transcription Guide. For help with historical context or handwriting, consult our Historical Resources, Paleography Resources and Common Abbreviations guides.

Clicking on Transcribe either from the document-level or media-level view will bring you to the page where you can begin to transcribe individual media. If you arrive here erroneously, clicking Cancel in the header will take you back to the media-level view. The page will again display the main document title followed by the media titles. The header will also contain new items that give you information about the state of this particular page in the document: 

  • Protection, displays any protections on this document;
  • Expiration, tells you if there is an expiration date for this item; and
  • Status, tells you if the item is New, In Progress, or Completed

Checking the checkbox after “Mark this revision as complete” will change the Status of this page to Complete and alert the PWD editorial team that the transcription is ready for review and pending approval. Do not check this box unless you feel the transcription is completely finished. If you are finished, be sure to click Save on the right side of the screen after checking the box.

The transcription view is made of two components: the Media Viewer on the left and the Text Editor on the right. Clicking on "Go Full Screen" above the media viewer will create a pop out window containing only these two features. In both regular and full screen view, you have the option to change the Layout from the default horizontal view (editor and viewer side by side) or vertical (editor and viewer stacked) by toggling between the left-right arrow and the up-down arrows. Any text you enter into the text editor will be retained if you move between regular and full screen view or between horizontal and vertical layouts while transcribing. However, if you navigate away from this page, any changes you have made will be lost unless you first click Save in the header.

The image viewer allows you to manipulate the view of your image for optimized transcriptions. Clicking your cursor on the image will allow you move it around within the boundaries of the viewer. The toolbar at the top left of the viewer also provides with more advanced viewing options:

  • Zoom In by clicking on the first icon (magnifying glass with plus sign).
  • Zoom Out by clicking on the second icon (magnifying glass with minus sign).
  • Rotate right by clicking on the third icon (circular arrow pointing right).
  • Rotate Left by clicking on the fourth icon (circular arrow pointing left).
  • Reset allows you to return to the original image view .

The text editor is where you will work on your transcription. This interface should be familiar to most users who have worked with any kind of text editor. The toolbar at the top contains formatting options available for transcriptions. If your particular transcription calls for more advanced formatting options, either consult the Transcription Guidelines or this list of HTML formatting codes

Because Scripto tracks the changes for each transcription, there is a field above the text editor labeled "Summarize your changes" where you can include a brief comment about what work you have done in this session before saving, e.g., “Began transcription” or “Updated table up to row 5.” When viewing the Browse Revision History page, any changes made during this session will be included with the comment you enter here.

Once you are done transcribing or want to save your work to return to at another time, be sure to hit the Save button at the top of the page. Otherwise, your work will be lost. As a backup, it is a good idea to copy and paste your work into an external text editor before clicking Save. This way, if the save does not go through, your work is not lost and you can simply paste it back into the text editor to try again.

Browse Revision History

On the Browse revision history page you can explore how the transcription for this item has changed over time. Each row reflects one addition or revision to the original saved transcription in descending order (newest to oldest). Each column includes information about the changes made during that save: 

  • Compare, allows you to select multiple saves in order to compare the changes. This is explained in more detail below.
  • Date, displays the date and time that this set of revisions were saved.
  • User, displays the username of the person who made these changes.
  • Size, displays the size, in bytes, of the edit, followed by the difference, in characters, between the previous and current versions.
  • Comment, displays the text in the "Summarize your changesfield when this transcription was saved.

To compare different versions of the transcription side by side, use the Compare feature. Clicking on "cur" will compare that version with the current version. Clicking "prev" will compare that version with the previously saved version. Alternatively, you can fill in the circle next to two versions and click "Compare selected." The comparison allows you to view the changes line by line and compare parts that have been revised, deleted, or added. 

View Notes

The View Notes section is where you and other transcribers along with the Papers of the War Department editorial staff can discuss certain documents or transcriptions. This is where you can ask questions about this specific page. This page can be used to ask for help deciphering tricky handwriting, or to answer other transcribers’ questions about person or place names they cannot identify. The Media Viewer remains on the left side of the page with the Transcription text included below. The right side of the page will display any notes associated with this Page. If no notes have been added, it will say [No notes yet.]. 

Clicking on Edit in the Notes section will bring you to a page that looks similar to the transcription page, however it has a distinct purpose. The text to the right of the image explains this. "Summarize your changes" allows you add a description of your note to appear in the Browse notes history page (just like the Browse revision history page). Finally, the text editor includes fewer tools than the Transcribe editor. In addition to Bold, Italics, Underline, and Block Quotes, there is a Signature option. This will include both your username as well as the time and date of your contribution. 

Because all users will contribute their comments within the same text editor, we encourage users to include their Signature after their comment to keep track of the history of the conversation. We also suggest adding new comments in descending order, or, add your comment followed by your Signature above the previous comment. When finished with your contribution, click Save at the top of the page.

The Browse notes history option will take you to a page that allows you to compare the history of changes to the discussion section. Like the Browse revision history section, you are able to Compare versions, view the Date of each contribution, the User who made the contribution, the Size of the contribution, and the Comment added in the "Summarize your changes" field.