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Note on Transcriptions

In comparing the image of a document with the transcript of the document, viewers of this site may notice some differences. These differences likely result from the project’s use of transcription rules that focus on presenting the original text accurately and in a readable way. For a complete discussion of these rules, see the Editorial Method. The following information in particular may help users of this site understand why an image may differ from a transcript.

Redactions and other changes made on the manuscript after the original production of the text are generally not transcribed. For example, when some of Joseph Smith’s journals were copied into the later manuscript history, the scribes of the history sometimes wrote on or otherwise marked the original journals. That later writing is not transcribed. Marks made by archivists or researchers are also not transcribed.

When an original word was changed to a new word by canceling or inserting letters in the middle of the word, to improve readability the original word is presented in its entirety, followed by the revised word in its entirety. For example, when “falling” was revised to “failing” by canceling the first “l” and inserting an “i”, the revision is transcribed as “falling <failing>” instead of “fal<i>ling”.

Insubstantial cancellations and insertions—those used only to correct spelling and punctuation—are silently emended, and only the final spelling and punctuation are reproduced. For example, a manuscript reading “Joseph, Frederick, & and Oliver” will be rendered in the transcript as “Joseph, Frederick, and Oliver”. And a manuscript reading “on Thirsday 31th arrived at Buffalo” will be rendered “on Thirsday 31st arrived at Buffalo”.

Punctuation and formatting are standardized in various ways. For example, end-of-line hyphens are not transcribed, and dashes of various lengths are standardized to a consistent pattern. When the original document sets off a quotation by using quotation marks at the beginning of each line that contains quoted matter, the quotation is formatted as a block quote, without the original quotation marks preserved.

Clerical notations (such as signatures or posting endorsements, often written on the back of a document or a document wrapper) are transcribed as insertions (that is, they are placed within angle brackets) if they were made at the same time the document was created. Later clerical endorsements will be reproduced in the final Source Note. Some types of notations, such as later archival markings, may not be reproduced.

In many cases, especially in the Documents series, the document featured on this site is part of a larger document. For example, an individual revelation featured on this site may have been transcribed from Revelation Book 1 or Revelation Book 2, both large manuscript books that contain copies of dozens of revelations. In these cases, images are provided for the entirety of all pages on which the document appears, but the transcript represents only the text of the document.

For selected Joseph Smith documents, users of this site will be able to select a “clear text” view of the document transcript. In the clear text view, abbreviations are expanded, canceled material is ignored, inserted material is presented without the insertion brackets, misspellings are corrected, punctuation is modernized, and other editorial changes are made to present the text in a highly standardized, readable format. The clear text view eliminates the “barbed wire” that often accompanies the default view of the transcript. The purpose of the clear text is to make the content of the text more accessible to users who do not require as much accuracy and detail as is available in the default view of the transcript. The clear text is meant to be a useful resource, not a definitive interpretation of the texts.