Proofing old texts
In older texts, there are two different forms of the lower-case letter s: long s and round s. Here are some examples from different fonts:
The round s looks like the modern letter s; it is normally used at the end of words. The long s looks more like the modern letter f with part or all of the crossbar missing; it is used in the beginning and middle of words.
Some texts use long s in pairs, as in “miſſing”, while others use long s for only the first one, as in “miſsing”.
There is only one form of the capital S, which looks like the modern letter (just a larger round s).
(In blackletter texts, a kind of squiggle looking a bit like a long s at the end of words may be an abbreviation symbol that represent -es or -is. See Proofing blackletter for more information on blackletter conventions.)
In addition, occasionally a long s is joined to round s, like this:
Some PMs request that this be proofed as ss, and others as ß.
Usage of u/v and i/j
In the 1600s and before, the letters u, v, i, and j were used differently than they are today. Often v was used only at the beginning of a word, while u was used in the middle and end, as in these words: vpon, vntil, haue, giue. In addition, usually i was used where we have a j today: iudge, obiect. The letter j may occur in Roman numerals, though, such as iij. In capital letters, there usually was no U or J; only V and I were used.
Unless the PM gives special instructions otherwise, proof these just the way they appear in the image. Do not modernize the spelling.
Refer to the Proofing blackletter page for details on the much more extensive range of abbreviation symbols used in blackletter texts. Only the subset of abbreviations that survived in non-blackletter texts after the beginning of the 16th century is described here.
Some old Latin texts have a large number of abbreviations. Instead of matching the scans, some Project Managers choose to have proofreaders substitute in the full words for the abbreviations in order to make the text more readable for Latin readers. This practice is acceptable to Project Gutenberg, but it is preferable in such cases that the Post-Processors include a table in the Transcriber's Note to list the abbreviations that were expanded/substituted.
Sometimes an n or m is abbreviated by putting a mark over the preceding letter:
These may be proofed as macrons
[~u], or according to the meaning (i.e.
u[m]), depending on the project manager's instructions.
Abbreviations may also be indicated by superscripts:
Often these are proofed as superscripts, such as
y^e, but sometimes they are proofed according to the meaning instead, as
In Latin, words ending in -que are sometimes abbreviated, using various symbols:
Various notations have been used for these symbols, including
In older texts there are often flourishes connecting letters, particularly the letters 'ct' and sometimes 'st':
These are not noted specially in proofing, so just proof them as the two letters (i.e., 'ct' or 'st').
Frequently in older texts you will see a single word at the bottom of the page, which is the same as the first word on the next page. This is called a "catchword," and can be omitted in proofing just like any page footer. See the Proofreading Guidelines for details.
Punctuation and Other Symbols
These are some examples of ampersands (&) in different fonts:
The one that looks like a numeral 7 is called the Tironian ampersand. In unicode it can be found in General Punctuation: ⁊. For some projects, the PM may ask that it be proofed differently from the ordinary ampersand, for example as [et].
As in many books through the 1800s, the phrase et cetera may be abbreviated as
&c. rather than the modern
etc. Leave it as the author wrote it.
In blackletter texts, et cetera may be abbreviated as
&c. with a macron over the c:
Question marks may look like the modern
?, or part of the top may be cut off, like this:
Proof them as the modern question mark: '?'.
These are some older forms of the pilcrow, or paragraph symbol (¶):
In some early blackletter texts, a forward slash (/) was used as a comma. Proof it as
/ unless the PM instructs otherwise. See Proofing blackletter for more on blackletter punctuation.
- 18th-century ligatures and fonts
- EEBO characters and symbols: note that the directions for proofing given on the EEBO site are not necessarily the same as we use here at DP
- another EEBO page, this one mainly listing Latin abbreviations
- The Rules for Long S, the rules, in practice, for the way English, French, Italian and Spanish books used the long s across the centuries, and how it died out.