This page has helpful info for identifying characters in blackletter fonts. See Proofing old texts for more general information about old texts.
Individual books will vary in the exact shape of the letters, but the tables below have some common forms. Sometimes a book will use multiple forms of a single letter.
In the chart below, multiple forms are only shown when the letters differed significantly from one book to another. The capital letters are often more difficult to recognize than lower case. In blackletter fonts, there are no capital letters for J and U (only I and V). Other samples of capital letters are shown in a separate page.
Letters m and n have sometimes a variant final form, used at the end of words, where the last leg of the letter descends and curves below the line: compare and ; it may happen that these final forms stand for ii / iii in roman numerals (e.g. meaning 17); check with the Project Manager how to proof that.
Sometimes letters are joined together. Usually this is not noted in proofing.
Other samples of ligatures are found in a separate page.
Sometimes in an English blackletter text, a z may be used as a yogh (a letter formerly used in English). Yoghs are usually proofed as
[Gh] for the capital form. For instance, this word:
would usually be proofed as
Symbols and abbreviations
Abbreviations and symbols occur very frequently in blackletter texts. These are sometimes indicated with a macron (a straight line over a letter) and sometimes with a tilde over the letter. They may be proofed as [=x] or [~x] or otherwise, according to the Project Manager's instructions. See also Abbreviations section in Proofing old texts.
Sometimes a macron is used, not to abbreviate an m or n, but as a general abbreviation mark which can have different meanings depending on the context.
There are also other types of symbols, used to abbreviate common words, syllables and letter sequences. Their meanings may vary from one text to another, but their usual meanings are given below:
|pre, pri, pitre||ver|
|pro||der, de |
(or normal d)
|quan||ur, re (?)|
Sometimes these are proofed according to the appearance, and other times by the meaning. For instance,
[per]. The specific format will vary depending on the project manager's instructions.
See also latin abbreviations in blackletter for more details and examples of how this is used in latin.
Some punctuation marks in blackletter, such as periods (.) and colons (:), look basically the same as today. However, other marks may be used that look different. Question marks may look something like this:
Sometimes a slash or vertical bar is used, where we would use a comma:
Sometimes there is also a middle dot (like a period/full stop, but raised up to the middle of the line). This is usually proofed with the middle dot that is in Latin-1:
The alternate form of r may be used as an ampersand in &c (etc):
Check with the project manager about how to proof this.
The hyphen in blackletter usually looks like a slanted equals sign. Treat this just like a normal hyphen, and rejoin words that are hyphenated across lines. You may need to leave hyphens as
-* more frequently than in other projects, because spelling and hyphenation in older texts is often unpredictable.
However, sometimes words are split across lines without a hyphen in the image. Check with the PM for directions on this: the words may be rejoined as normal, or a special notation may be used to indicate a missing hyphen.
- Common Fraktur OCR errors
- Proofing old texts
- Script Teacher: a site for learning blackletter (and other) fonts
- Cappelli's Dictionary of Latin Abbreviations