Transcribing Maps


Rather than trying to capture the exact layout of maps during this transcription project, we are prioritizing capturing as many words as possible without their exact location on the map. This process will enable maps in Colonial North America to be full-text searchable like the other documents transcribed during this project. To make this transcription as effective as possible for future projects, we ask that you follow these methods for encoding the kinds of words that you are transcribing.

Transcribe with Tags:

Transcribe words as lists separated by semi-colons. Tag each list of words using custom ids in the <p> tags to note the place of those words on the map. We are using only six custom ids: title, map, legend, inset, text, and verso. The list of words goes between the two sets of tags enclosed by <>

<p id="title"> </p> includes anything in the title and anything in the cartouche.

  • For some maps, the title may be a long paragraph and include other information. You can cross check the title against the HOLLIS record for reference.     

<p id="legend"> </p> includes anything in the legend of the map explaining the meaning of symbols and colors.

  • If the word is explaining what a color, symbol, or abstract marking means in general, include it in this list.

<p id="inset"> </p> includes anything on inset maps or drawings.

<p id="verso"> </p> includes anything on the back of a map.

<p id="text"> </p> includes any blocks of text auxiliary to the map itself. These may be narrative descriptions of events or places on the sides of the map.

<p id="map"> </p> refers to anything on the map proper.

  • Include any words in indices or marginalia that refer to specific places or things on the map. When in doubt, include words in this list over any other. For instance, a numbered list of names of specific buildings corresponding to numbers on the map would go in this list.

People and Toponyms:

Use the subject linking to specify if a word refers to a specific person or a specific place. You can learn more about subject linking in theguide to making subjects.

  • John Harvard is a specific person; the mayor is not.
  • Charles River is a specific place; the bakery is not.



A transcription of this simple map might look like this:

Basic, hand-drawn map with severl locations above the Charles River

<p id="title">A Simple Map of my Neighborhood</p>

<p id="map">[[John Harvard]]'s house; Mayor's house; Bakery; Library; [[Charles River]]</p>