FAQs are a good place to start looking whenever you have questions.
If your question is not answered below, you can try our forum or contact us directly at

Getting started

Do I need to make an account to be part of this project?

Yes. You need to create a login to transcribe so that the website will save your progress, and so that you can go back to your transcriptions.  

How do I sign up? 

Click Sign Up and it will bring you to a new page where you enter your email, password, and display name. Then just click Sign Up button on the bottom, and you’re done!

I already have an account, but have forgotten the password. What do I do?

On the Log In page, there is a link called “Forgot your password?” which, once you click it, will prompt you for your email, so it can send you instructions on how to reset your password.

I found a bug, what do I do?

Submit a report by clicking on User Feedback and please report any issues there, or contact Robert Smith at


What happens to the information I transcribe?

Three things:
1. A group of McGill researchers will perform statistical analyses of the weather data in order to identify trends in the past climate.
2. The data will be committed to international databases where it will be used - along with millions of other observations from all around the globe - to reconstruct models of past climate.
3. The data will be made accessible to historians and sociologist interested in the impact of weather on culture and population dynamics.

What if I make a mistake?

You can always go back to your previous transcriptions by clicking on 'My Transcriptions', selecting the desired record, choosing the annotation you wish to modify and changing the erroneous value for the correct one.

"" or 'ditto' is written in the cell - what do I do?

Ditto marks are used sometimes when the value in the cell immediately above is repeated. Observations were usually taken every 3 hours starting at 1:48 AM. On some pages, all the subsequent observation times are written as 4:"", 7:"", 10"", etc.

How do I mark an empty cell?

If nothing is written in a given column, select 'Empty' from the options in the dropdown menu

Should I type the observations exactly as written or make corrections?

Yes. It is important that the data be as close to the original ledgers as possible. If you think the observer made a mistake, please resist the urge to correct it. We will analyze the entries later on and identify the unlikely observations at that time.

What if the observations are illegible and I can't read it?

You’re not alone. Reading the handwriting can be hard – even experts struggle with it. Try to do your best, but sometimes all you can do is guess.
Look for clues – if you are dealing with a numerical value, look at the other measurements on the page for hints. For instance, "1"s and "7"s can sometimes be hard to differentiate. Say you are hesitating between a temperature measurement of 13°F or 73°F, look at the other temperature measurement on the page as well as the date. If it is winter, 13°F is more plausible. Whereas, if it is a summer month, opt for 73°F.
Sound out the word - there was no spellcheck when the observations were recorded. Hence, some words may be misspelled or spelled phonetically.
You can also post screenshots of the difficult-to-read text on our forum to receive help from peers.

I entered the data for the entire row and saved, but when I checked the details on “My Transcription” page, only part of the data that I entered appeared. What happened?

You must save the data you entered in each tab before moving on to the next. You will have to go back and enter the missing data again.

What do I do if there is a line through the data or if it is scratched out?

When entering data, there is an option in the drop-down menu for “Retracted/ Line Through.” Instead of entering any numbers/symbols, simply use that option in the drop-down.

How do I change the time and date once I start transcribing?

You can either pick a date by clicking the clock icon and clicking on the proper day, or you could manually type in the day in the textbox below where it says “Observation Date and Time.”
You can do the same thing with the time. Change it by clicking the clock icon and using the arrows above and below the time to change it, or by manually typing it in.

What do I do if the highlighted box doesn’t cover the observation?

Don’t worry. You can resize, move, or delete the highlighted box. Hover over the left end of the box, and 3 little white boxes will appear: edit value, resize box, and reposition box. Hover over the right end of the box and a little red box will appear that is labeled “delete annotation.”

If I accidentally delete the annotation, what do I do?

Not a huge deal. You will have to re-enter the data for that observation and save it again.

I tried to resize the highlighted box, and the whole logbook turned blue. What do I do?

Click anywhere that isn’t blue to get rid of the colour. To properly resize the highlighted box, you need to stretch or shrink it from one of the corners.

What are the “Page Column Labels Guide,” and the “Time Column Guide”?

The “Page Column Labels Guide” is on the top of the transcription page, and is the upper headings/labels of the logbook. Those headings are frozen so that you can continue to transcribe without having to constantly scroll up and down to see which column you are in. The “Time Column Guide” is on the left side of the transcription page, and corresponds with the date so that you will always know which day you are working on.

If I accidentally click back while transcribing, what will happen to my transcriptions?

If you clicked on the “Save” button before you went back, then your data entry will be there when you go back to transcribing. Any pervious data that you had saved will also be there. If not, then you will have to re-enter the data for your last observation.

There is no field to add in the Sums and Means rows for the logbook I am working on. What do I do?

Do not worry about it. Ignore the Sums and the Means rows.

Why are there only three entries on some days?

They only took three readings on Sundays, so this is not unusual. Only fill in the three rows of observations that you see.

Is there more help available?

Yes, glad you asked! Have a look -- here -- .

How do I transcribe offset observations?

It often happens that observers wrote observations across many columns, especially in the 'Clouds' fields. In the example below, '4CiCu' belongs in the 'Upper' column. 'W' which stands for West goes in the 'Direction' column. '5CuSt' goes in the 'Lower' column and '9' goes in the 'Total to Tenths' column.
text sample

How do I transcribe stacked observations?

Stacking observations one on top of the other is also relatively common. In this case, simply write the stacked observations in the same field box.
text sample


For more detailed instructions on how weather observations were recorded, have a look at the original meteorological standards here.