Transcription Punctuation

Proper punctuation can be difficult to determine, especially in handwritten documents. Distinctions between a comma and a period, a sloppy period and a dash, or an upper or lower case C can be slight. We will attempt to transcribe punctuation as written, but will regularize some punctuation for ease of reading.


Sentences will always begin with a capital letter.

Often times it is not certain whether a letter is capitalized or not. This is especially true in the case of letters where the only distinction in the letter form is size. Is it a capital C or just a slightly large C? When in doubt, use modern usage. We will build a list of words that Addams commonly capitalizes as we go along.

Note that older authors often capitalize words that we would not. Retain those variants as they tell something about places the author wants to emphasize or about their writing style.

Words that should be capitalized within a sentence but are not should be silently capitalized in the transcription (no brackets).

  • "Mr. smith" should be rendered Mr. Smith.
  • "great britain" should be rendered Great Britain
  • "march 16" should be rendered March 16

In cases where it is unclear, such as an ambiguous capital in the word aunt. we will capitalize it when it is right next to a name "Aunt Jane" but not when use further away. "Your aunt is very pleased to see you. Jane."

But do not intrude too heavily in the way the author styles their text. We should only correct it if the sentence is grammatically incorrect with the lower case:

  • "United States Army and a similar (extensive) increase in the navy" should not capitalize Navy.


When a contraction is written or typed without an apostrophe we will silently add it.


When a possessive is missing an apostrophe, leave it the way it is, don't add it.


Sentences will always end with terminal punctuation, usually a period, but if the sentence is a question, use a question mark. Do not bracket inserted punctuation.

Dashes can end sentences.

Some telegrams end sentences with the word "STOP." We will transcribe that as a period.


Dashes should be rendered as two hyphens — with one space between them and the words they separate — to separate them from hyphenated words.

Hyphenated words will be rendered as written, unless it appears that the hyphen was added solely because of a line break. If a word that is often hyphenated appears is broken at the end of the line, leave it hyphenated in the transcription.

Note that Hull-House is usually referred to with a hyphen.

If a word should be hyphenated but is rendered without spaces, ex. "wisehearted" we will silently include the hyphen, ex. wise-hearted. If there is a space between the words, we will leave it alone.

An exception to this is when a dash is used to replace letters, particularly in cases where authors do not want to swear. In these cases, do not insert the spaces around the dashes.



Render parenthesis as written in the transcription. If there is a starting parenthesis but no ending parenthesis, silently add the ending make where you think it makes the most sense.
Use angle brackets < > or curly brackets { } as they are used in the text. If the original text uses square brackets [ ] which we have reserved for editorial information, replace them with curly brackets { }.


For people's name, ex. I. B. Smith, enter a space between the initials. For businesses or organizations, ex. I.B.M. do not add a space.


Superscripted text, whether numbers like 2d or letters like Mrs are always brought down to the line.


If bringing the superscript down to the line makes the text confusing, you can bracket it and add clarifying punctuation.

$1000 would be rendered [$10.00]

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