How to Review


The review step is vital to the By the People project goals of making Library of Congress materials keyword searchable, and improving accessibility for people who use adaptive technology including screen readers. Anyone can review; you just need to register for an account. Before you start reviewing, read the How to transcribe instructions. These explain how to transcribe spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other features of the original documents, and which features to ignore. While you review, you might want to keep the transcription instructions visible by printing them out or opening them in another browser window or tab. Transcriptions are created by one or more volunteers. Ideally, a volunteer submits a transcription when they feel they have transcribed everything correctly and want another person to check their work. A reviewer’s task is to read the entire transcription and carefully compare it against the image of the document. Review is a great way to become familiar with different handwriting, and a good way to learn more about transcription conventions. Once a page is accepted by a reviewer, it is ready to be published on the Library of Congress main website.

Find a page to review:

Make sure you are signed in to your account, and then find the “Review Now” slide of the carousel on the homepage and click “Let’s Go”. This will take you to a page that needs review. Alternatively, you can navigate through the Campaigns pages using the “Needs Review” filter to find pages to review. Once you have reviewed a document and clicked either “Accept” or “Edit”, you will be asked if you would like to review a new page, transcribe a new page or add tags to the page you just reviewed. You will not be able to review transcriptions you submit unless someone else edits the page and does not submit it for review.

When to accept a transcription:

When a transcription is accurate and you do not need to make any changes, click the "Accept" button. The page will no longer be available for transcription edits, but you and other volunteers can still read the document and add tags.

Editing a transcription:

While reviewing, you can change a transcription to fix errors or add missing material. To make changes click “Edit”. Remember, do not make changes to the spelling, grammar, word order or punctuation of the original document. Do correct any mistakes made by the transcriber or complete any words they could not read, which you can. Click “Save” as you go to save work in progress. When you’re done, click the "Submit" button. Another volunteer will then need to review the page. A page is complete when a reviewer clicks "Accept" without making changes.

Should I add line breaks if the transcriber has not used them?

Line breaks help reviewers and other readers compare the transcription with the original lines of text. This is particularly helpful for people who cannot easily read the original document, for example because they cannot read cursive. Being able to line up the transcription with the word on the line helps people learn how to read handwriting. However, if the absence of line breaks is the only problem with a transcription, you can choose not to add them in. If you would like to add them, feel free.

Who can I ask for help while I’m reviewing?

The History Hub discussion forum is a great place to ask for help from other volunteers and the By the People community managers. This is a moderated forum, so there can be a delay between when you post and when your message appears. Search the forum for existing topics or threads of conversation and you may find that other people have already asked your question and received an answer. You’re always welcome to join the conversation!

Ready to try it?