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Reading Old Handwriting



1 : Read the complete document at first to try to get the gist of what it is about.

2 : Re-read the document this time stopping at any words you cannot distinguish scan the rest of the text to see if the same word appears in a context where you understand its meaning.

3 : Search the document for any repeats of letters of which you are uncertain.

4 : Be aware of the common abbreviations and symbols used to signify missing letters.

5 : There are many books published giving examples of various handwriting styles such as -Secretary & Court and Italic styles, have one to hand to compare the formation of letters.

6 : Practise, the more you attempt reading old handwriting the clearer it becomes.

7 : Attempt writing in the style of the document using the style books as a guide.

8 : Understand that until recently words were spelt as they sounded, this can sometimes confuse.

9 : Familiarize yourself with place names and names of people which might occur in the document, the letters of these names may help distinguish other words.

10 : Transcribe as much of the document as you can then re-read comparing the original with the transcript, the more you understand the document the clearer the words will appear.