The following teaser is from an excellent article by Julie Miller, CG, printed in the January 16, 2010 edition of the Broomfield Enterprise.

I was recently helping a friend who had reached a brick wall in her genealogy research. As we reviewed her research, I noticed she had numerous copies of wills and deeds. When I asked for the transcriptions of the documents, she told me she had not transcribed any of them.

In genealogy, a transcription is an exact copy of a record. That means everything is exactly as it is the original — spelling, punctuation, abbreviations and format. A transcription is often confused with an abstract, which is a summary of the important points in a document, and an extract, which is an exact copy of selected parts of a document.

Why transcribe a record? Transcribing is the foundation of a thorough and accurate analysis. Transcribing a document furthers your understanding of that document and its purpose. When transcribing, you will catch those little details that can go undetected when just reading a document. It is harder to miss something when writing it down.

In the course of research it is usually necessary to refer back to a document many times. Often you will not look at a document for months or years. Because old documents are typically hard to read, this can be very time consuming. If the document has been transcribed, it makes reading that document easier and saves time.

Deeds, wills, probates and pension files are just a few of the types of documents that should be transcribed. Before beginning the transcription, read the document several times. Reading will give a general sense of the document. Usually the handwriting, unfamiliar words and light lettering will become clearer after several readings.

For more guidance on how to transcribe, go to “The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual; Chapter 16 of Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor; and the National Genealogical Society`s online course, “Transcribing, Extracting, and Abstracting Genealogical Records” (ngsgenealogy.org/cs/transcribing)…

Read the full article by Julie Miller, CG.