Should you find yourself in the situation of wishing to transcribe the exact oddities in how a historical text was originally written, you will have to come up with a system of notation -- how do you indicate that a word is illegible, or written in the margin? And being a thorough sort of person, you will want to write out a key to standardize and document your choice of notation symbols. Or... you could just borrow one.

While your key may have to be tweaked to reflect the specifics of your document, there is a set of standardized, commonly-used transcription marks. The ones listed below are the ones used by the epic project A Corpus of Nineteenth-century Scottish Correspondence (19CSC), which aims to transcribe 500,000 words of text from private and business letters from a cross-section of the Scottish population across the 19th century. Other projects have adapted these notations in an attempt to standardize transcription marks, although it is always wise to double-check the system a given work is using; they may be modified depending on an author's need or whim, or of course, be invented out of whole cloth.


Symbol Use Example
   = =       Superscript

Wch
  is transcribed as  
w=ch=

   --       Author's self-correction.

█Robert
is transcribed as
rRobert

   ^^       An insertion into the text.

  This is mine.
not^
is transcribed as
This is ^not^ mine.

   #       Line break

I met
Alfred.
is transcribed as
I met # Alfred.

   ###       Page break

   When the text moves from one page to another you write ###.  

   [ ... ]       Compiler's comment

On Sunday we went [illegible]ing.
Ed is a fool [written in margin]

   (\ ... \)       Foreign language

Grübelsucht
is transcribed as
(\Grübelsucht\)[German]

   (^...^)      Change of font

He was very angry.
is transcribed as
He was (^very angry^)[teletype font]

   s+       ſ (long s)

congreſs
is transcribed as
congres+s

   _       Strike of pen linking words.

John_Hancock
is transcribed as
John_Hancock

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