What is the term used for the processes in which a historian will read a handwritten book and then re-write its content in a book form using word processing program? This process involves deciphering words that are difficult to read and presenting the entire manuscript in a clear way typed on a word processing program to be read by whoever is interested.

For example: " The famous historian Prof. James Davidson performed a ????? of the manuscript and sold it worldwide. "

  • Digital transliteration.
    – user66974
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:13
  • 3
    It is transcription; depending on the antiquity of the handwritten script it may also qualify as paleography. Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:17
  • 1
    If he is indeed a famous historian, then he will provide an edited transcript of the work rich with footnotes to place the details in a context understandable to his readers. So Brian Donovan and SeymourKatz are correct in "transcription," but this Professor will do much more given his reputation and field (and the worldwide sales). @vickyace suggested that this is better suited as a comment than an answer, but I am trying to steer the titular question into its full dimensions. "Transcription" is correct, but it is just a part of what must occur.
    – KWinker
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:45
  • What's described is a combination of 'transcription' and 'emendation'. In most cases, mentioning the transcription would be unnecessary; mentioning the emendation, on the other hand, would be an editorial obligation. Mentioning the transcription is unnecessary because going from a handwritten MS to a published, nonfacsimile version necessarily involves transcription: the transcription step is understood to have happened.
    – JEL
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


I am not sure about Josh61's response of "digital transliteration." Transliteration is the process of rendering written words in a different character set, such as taking words written in Chinese calligraphy and representing them phonetically in the English alphabet.

I would simply refer to that process as "transcription." I am not aware of any other term that it usually used to describe what you have asked about. However, there is a website that publishes digital editions of books that were previously available only in printed form. The website is www.gutenberg.org. You might go there and see if they have any special terminology that they use to describe the work they do.

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