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Co-Lab Basics

We recommend that you open this page in a new browser tab or window so you can refer to the guidelines while you are working.

Note that archival materials are historical documents, and some may contain content that is racist, sexist or otherwise offensive; the content does not reflect the views or policies of Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

The intent of Co-Lab is to enable transcription, tagging, translation and description metadata on digitized images in LAC’s collection. Check out our About Co-Lab page for more information and common questions and answers.

Contribution Status:

  • Not started: work has not yet begun.
  • Incomplete: some work has been done, but the item still requires more contributions.
  • Needs review: the contributions are completed for this page, but it still requires peer review.
  • Complete: contributions have been completed and reviewed by others.

Save your work and your edits frequently! Click on “Save and continue” often, so you do not lose your work.

Transcription guidelines

  • Do not correct spelling or capitalization errors; type exactly what you see!
  • Where historical names are different from current names, type the text as you see it, and include the contemporary spelling as a keyword tag. Example: Benoit, Benwaa.
  • If there are two pages in the single image, transcribe the first page, then write [[end page]]. Then write [[start page]] and continue transcribing.
  • Do not include comments about the document in the transcription.
  • If you are unsure of the spelling, indicate this by [[sp]].
  • Indicate words that you are unsure of by using the term “illegible” or a question mark inside two sets of square brackets. Example: [[illegible]] or [[?]].
  • If you can decipher a portion of the word, include it followed by a question mark inside two sets of square brackets. Example: [[immediate?]], [[-ing?]], [[name?]], etc.
  • Type all textual elements of the document you are working on, including words in a table, and typewritten text.
  • If notes are written in the margins of a page, separate from the main text, then transcribe this text by using asterisks, and insert it in the sentence of the main text that is closest to the margin notation. Example: “…as was natural *August 1812* from their being…”
  • Do not transcribe words that have been crossed out.
  • Do not worry about the formatting, such as text alignment, columns, line breaks, spacing, etc.
  • Do not indicate stylistic formatting, such as underlining, italics, bold, etc.
  • Do not transcribe hyphens or spaces in words that may be line breaks in the original text. Full words will yield better search results for future researchers.
  • If you come across a page with a transcription status of “Needs review” and you see the term [[illegible]] or any square-bracketed content, try to transcribe the word or words.

Translation guidelines

  • Translating the transcription of this document so it is available in both of Canada’s official languages is the next step in making our collection more accessible to all! This field is not intended for a certified translation, but rather an approximate translation powered by “the crowd.”
  • Always set the translation you provide to “Needs review” so your peers can edit your contribution.
  • If you are contributing to Co-Lab items and notice issues in the translation of an item that is marked “Complete,” you can always change it back to “Needs review” and allow the crowd to continue to perfect it!

Tagging guidelines

  • There are two different types of tagging in Co-Lab: keyword tagging and tagging on the image.
  • You can tag a person, place or object in an image by clicking the button labelled “Tag a person or an object on the image,” which will open a new viewer for you to denote the exact location by clicking on that person, place or object and adding text to the text box that appears.
  • You can add a keyword tag by typing in the “Keywords” box and clicking “Add.”
  • Keyword tags can be thematic, using a tag to group the image into a category of similar images. Example: “FWW” (for First World War) would be a thematic tag. Adding both “FWW” and “First World War” as keyword tags would further improve the ease of finding the image in our search engines using either thematic term.

Description guidelines

  • Titles should be image-specific, descriptive and accurate. An accurate and descriptive title helps both people and search engines determine what an item is about.
  • For descriptions, add any additional information about the item that is useful, noteworthy or interesting to know. This information could relate to the quality or characteristics of the text or image, such as poor or uneven image quality, an image that bleeds through from the reverse side, etc.
  • Place refers to the location depicted in the image. If known, please specify the city, province/territory or state, and country.
  • Enter the full name of places, and do not use abbreviations.
  • Include a date only if you are certain of its accuracy. When entering an approximate date, use the “Date (ca.)” field instead.