Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Notes & Abbreviations


The transcriber has two options for leaving notes. He or she can construct a text file called Mynotes, which will be viewed by the checker. In addition, there is a column in the spreadsheet, Y, which will hold 44 characters. This is my preferred option; by abbreviating where necessary, a lot can be got into 44 characters.

The checker sees both these lots of notes, but cannot delete or edit them. The validater sees the column “Y” notes and the checker’s notes. The checker can leave notes in the WINCC notes field. Both lots of notes trigger a stop for the validater. However, the validater does not see the Mynotes file, just that one existed.

During validation, the transcriber’s note field is transformed into the database notes field. This appears on both the COCP web pages and in the Free Census OLDB. The validator can delete, edit or add to this field as the fancy takes him, or her. Both transcribers and checkers are encouraged to leave notes; but please judge whether they are really worthwhile. What worthwhile means is entirely subjective – you have to make that decision.


A general rule on abbreviations is to remove the vowels first and see how it looks. The basic rule is – does it make sense? A secondary but important point – is does it look OK? Does it look neat or clumsy?

There are two main fields that use abbreviations – address and occupation. In the address field you should use the standard abbreviations such as Rd for Road.

In the occupation field you can have 29 characters. Start by removing vowels. You can use standard abbreviations such as Ag Lab and Dom Srvnt. Take a look at what you have ended up with and see if you think if it will make sense to the average researcher. A fairly common one is “Farmer of 200 acres employing 2 men and a boy”. This reduces down to” Frmr 200a emp 2 men 1 boy”. If necessary you can use the notes field to expand on what you entered in the occupation field.

You shouldn’t have to abbreviate personal names, but if you are pushed for space in the forename column, then use initials and expand them in the notes column.

The relationship field only allows for six characters. There is a table of suitable abbreviations in the Free Census field descriptions. An expanded table will be published by the COCP shortly.

Try and avoid abbreviating in the place of birth field. Better to split the information into two sensible bits and place one in the notes field.

Finally – take the time to browse the COCP online pages. The chances are that someone else has already encountered the problem you are struggling with.

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