Abbreviations in the field

Memorial inscriptions commonly used phrases.

When recording memorials, in the field – it seems only natural to use some sort of shorthand or abbreviation for most commonly used phrases, as you would when faced with the transcription of a large manuscript or will. A large graveyard can take some time to transcribe, and much time can be saved by resorting to some kind of shorthand.

Many of us, who have been transcribing gravestone inscriptions for some time, use abbreviations of some kind. I recommend only using abbreviations for the most used phrases, such as ‘In Loving Memory of ’.

Experience has shown that using too many abbreviations can cause more confusion than the additional time taken to simply write out in full. It is not too funny when you are keying in ‘b’ which you understand stands for ‘beloved’ when the transcriber meant either ‘brother’ or ‘born’. Having to hare back to the graveyard in perhaps inclement weather to sort such a thing out, is no fun. As you can see, in this instance, it would not have taken much longer for the transcriber to write the word in full.

Many people just record the basic information from the stone – just the name and dates. This may satisfy the person doing it, but isn’t very satisfactory for others who read it later. A name carries no link to another stone, except by surname. I don’t find this basic information very satisfactory, and if a job is worth doing – it is worth doing well. [or at least, as well as you are able!]

Standing in front of a memorial, with instructions to copy everything in full, with the weather or time against you, is obviously the time to employ abbreviations! Of course, the abbreviations should be common to all the transcribers on the team and the typist too. For the person who inputs the field data, with a programme such as Microsoft Word, using abbreviations is a much quicker way of inputting. By turning on the Auto-correct feature or Find and exchange, can turn ILMO into ‘In loving Memory of ‘ throughout the document and also cuts down errors in spelling.