Help and Advice for transcription volunteers

It is important that your look after yourself when transcribing. This page has advice on how to create a safe transcribing environment.

Key messages

  • If you find material that has distressing content and it doesn’t already have a warning, contact us and let us know.
  • Stop transcribing if you feel like the distressing content is impacting you negatively. 
  • Take regular breaks from transcribing. 
  • To minimise the risk of muscle strain, ensure you set up your work environment following the guidance below and any directions provided by your GP.

Setting up your workstation

Reviewing where you work and how you are set up is a simple but effective way of preventing the development of pain symptoms. Remember, if you start to experience discomfort, stop transcribing and take a break.

Comcare’s Workstation Set-up Guide [PDF 634KB] will assist you in setting up your work environment to minimise the risk of injury.

Key points for setting up your sitting workstation:

  • Head is in neutral position, chin parallel to ground
  • Top of screen at eye level
  • Monitor/s at comfortable reading distance (approximately an arm’s length away and centred directly in front).
  • Adjust lumbar support to fit lower back curve
  • Forearms angled slightly downwards to keyboard
  • Document holder between screen and keyboard
  • Adjust chair height so that thighs are slightly angled downwards
  • Mouse close to keyboard and within easy reach

Distressing content

The content made available for transcription from the Memorial’s National Collection includes private diaries and letters to friends and family which at times may be confronting or highly descriptive including:

  • Potentially distressing content that reflects an event witnessed or conveyed to the writer.
  • Personal or sexualized communications.
  • Contain offensive or culturally sensitive material or offensive language, which may reflect the personal opinion of the writer or the time period in which they were written.

Where possible, content warnings have been included at the top of transcription page. Also included are conflict and subjects related to the transcription. Please take note of the content warning, conflict and subject heading before deciding whether or not to proceed with a transcription task.

Where a transcription task evokes feelings of discomfort or emotional distress stop transcribing the item and take a break from transcription. There is no obligation to take on a task or continue with a task once commenced.

Support services

If you feel like you need support, you can contact one of the following for further assistance:

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