The interactive parts of this resource no longer work, but it has been archived so you can continue using the rest of it.

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Latin Palaeography

How to use this tutorial

This page describes how to use the resources in this section. For an introduction to the topic as a whole, please go to the How to decipher handwriting page.


Choosing a lesson | Parts of a lesson | Transcribing a document | Matching abbreviations | Exploring letters

Choosing a lesson

Choosing a lesson

Choose one of the documents listed in this panel on the homepage. Click on the lesson heading and more information will be revealed.

Parts of a lesson

Choosing a lesson

The lesson's information panel will contain the following elements:

  1. Transcribe document link - follow this link to transcribe the document online.
  2. Match abbreviations link - an activity to test your knowledge of the abbreviations used.
  3. Explore alphabet link - use this tool to see how letters appeared in the 'hand' that was used for this document.
  4. Document context - a description of the history of the document, plus its catalogue reference at The National Archives.
  5. Abbreviations link - a table of abbreviations used in this document.
  6. Download this document link - you can view and download the document directly, so you can print it out for easier study.

Transcribing a document

The transcriber application

Following the 'Transcribe document' link from the lessons panel will take you to the transcriber, which helps you practise your technique online.

  1. The document The document appears in the top window. The current line that you are working on is highlighted.
  2. Transcription You type your transcription into these lines. Remember to use the conventions of transcription, such as enclosing text that has been abbreviated in square brackets. When a line is complete, it will turn green. Incorrect words will turn red.
  3. Hints for transcription button - reveal some handy hints about how to transcribe the document.
  4. Read translation button - reveal the translation of the document, which may help with your transcription.
  5. Zoom tool - open a magnifying square which you can move over the document for a better view.
  6. Full screen button - open the whole application in full-screen mode, making the document and text much bigger.
  7. Open letter selector button - takes you directly to the letter selector which will help you understand how the characters of the alphabet appear in this 'hand'.
  8. Lesson selector menu - allows you to navigate from lesson to lesson without going back to the home page.

The transcriptions you type into the application will be stored automatically, so you can move from page to page without losing anything. You can return to a transcription at any point and find what you've written still there.

Matching abbreviations

The activity application

Following the 'Match abbreviations' link from the lessons panel will take you to a learning activity.

  1. The abbreviations Drag the abbreviation that you think matches the sample from the document.
  2. The target This area is where the sample appears. If you make the right match a tick appears and you move on to the next sample.
  3. Our monk will keep an eye on proceedings!

Exploring letters

The letter selector application

Following the 'Explore letters' link from the lessons panel will take you to the Letter Selector application. It allows you to examine how each letter in the 'hand' appears.

  1. The keyboard Type on the keyboard to select letters. For upper case, click on the CAP button; to delete the last letter, click on the DEL button. You can also type on your computer's keyboard.
  2. The letters What you type appears in these boxes. You have up to 18 characters.
  3. The examples Equivalent letters sampled from the document appear here. If you roll over them with the mouse you can see if there are any variants.
  4. Clear button - removes all the samples and starts the line again.
  5. Open transcriber button - takes you directly to the transcriber.
  6. Lesson navigator Use this menu to switch between lessons.
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