Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  1. What is an item/consignment list?
  2. Does the National Archives also need help transcribing other types of records?
  3. Why does the National Archives want help transcribing item/consignment lists?
  4. What do the item/consignment lists look like?
  5. What do I do if the OCR’d information is unclear or makes no sense?
  6. How do I transcribe the data?
  7. What data should I capture from the digitised item/consignment list?
  8. What data should not be included from the digitised item/consignment list?
  9. What do I do for spelling and illegible text?
  10. What are the benefits of being a Registered User?
  11. How do I access a record I see listed?
  12. How do I get help?
  13. The webpage is larger than my screen and I have a horizontal scrollbar
  14. I am having technical issues with the website
  15. Can I provide feedback or comments?


Q What is an item/consignment list?

It is a list of the contents of a consignment, usually prepared at the time of packing and transfer.

The National Archives holds over 250 shelf metres of paper item/consignment lists about records transferred into National Archives’ custody since the 1950s. The National Archives is currently digitising these paper item/consignment lists to make them available on HIVE.

Item/consignment lists are the largest group of records available for transcription on HIVE.


Q Does the National Archives also need help transcribing other types of records?

In addition to the item/consignment lists, the National Archives also includes digitised records, such as Cabinet notebooks, Post Office records, migrant selection records, internee camp records and war service records on HIVE to enable the transcription of specific content or data.

An example below is of individual Name Index & Registration Cards for Internees Dossiers (NAA: BP628/5)

Screenshot of HIVE screen

Q Why does the National Archives want help transcribing item/consignment lists?

While the records included on the item/consignment lists are held by the National Archives, they do not appear on the National Archives online database, RecordSearch. Transcribing information from the lists enables the items to be searched for by the public as they are added to RecordSearch.


Q What do the item/consignment lists look like?

Generally when you select an item/consignment list (by highlighting or clicking on the list), your screen will show two, side-by-side images.

Screenshot of HIVE screen

On the left: you will typically see an image of the digitised item/consignment list which is ‘read only’ and cannot be altered.

On the right: you will typically see an image of the list captured through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process. The OCR text is in an electronic document. You can edit the text or start from scratch

Lists are classed as easy, medium and hard depending on the legibility of the original list.


Q What do I do if the OCR’d information is unclear or makes no sense?

If you find the image of OCR’d information confusing or difficult to decipher, simply delete the text to create a blank screen on the right side for your transcription or data entry.


Q How do I transcribe the data?

Transcribe the data from left to right.

Transcribe the data from the top of the image and move down creating a new line for each item you are entering

An example of a completed record using this method can be seen below

Screenshot of a completed record

Do not try to make the information you transcribe or enter look exactly like the digitised image. We are simply trying to capture the data.


Q What data should I capture from the digitised item/consignment list?

The priority data we wish to capture is:

  • Item control symbol – the number or other symbol allocated to the item to identify it uniquely, facilitating control and
  • Item title – the description of the item.

Format Tips:

  • use a space (rather than the tab key) to separate the control symbol from the item title or description
  • transcribe or enter the control symbols using one of the following separators: a slash eg 86/123; a hyphen eg 86-123; or a full stop eg 86.123
  • transcribe or enter words from the item title or description as they appear on the digitised image on the left side of your screen.

Q What data should not be included from the digitised item/consignment list?

Do not use formatted information including a table, column markers or headings, any characters or symbols such as #, *, “” etc., italics, bold font or underlining. Only use capitals for proper names (eg. Canberra not canberra). Don’t add full stops in the middle or at the end of an item description.

Do not add new lines or line breaks within a single item– only between items.


Q What do I do for spelling and illegible text?

If you think a word is incorrect, transcribe the word as it is spelt in the digital list and then enter what you think is the correct spelling in square brackets after the word eg Sidney [Sydney].

If you can’t read a word or part of a word, use your best guess and put the word or part of the word in square brackets with a question mark eg [?Strahan]

Unfortunately Internet Explorer does not have spellcheck included in the browser. Spellcheck is available by default on the following browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera


Q What are the benefits of being a Registered User?

There are many!

Track your progress – As a registered user of HIVE you can save your ‘favourite’ records so you can see what you’ve been working on and easily return to them at any time.

Request to have an item examined - Once registered, you can request an item or items from an item/consignment list to be examined for public release. Select Request item and fill in the form. After the item has been examined and listed on RecordSearch, you will have the option to order, for a fee, a digital copy. Alternatively you can access the record in the reading room where the record is held. Please order the record in advance of your visit.


Q How do I access a record I see listed?

Once registered, you can request an item or items from an item/consignment list to be examined for public release. Select Request item and fill in the form. After the item has been examined and listed on RecordSearch, you will have the option to order, for a fee, a digital copy. Alternatively you can access the record in the reading room where the record is held. Please order the record in advance of your visit.

If you are not a registered user you can ask to see an item you find on a consignment list by sending a general inquiry to the National Archives reference service.


Q How do I get help?

A Help menu is included on each transcription page, accessed via the Options button. The Help menu includes tips for how to format and save your work and how to deal with spelling mistakes or illegible text.

Screenshot of transcription page

Q The webpage is larger than my screen and I have a horizontal scrollbar

Due to the nature of transcribing we needed to maximise the amount of space and opted for a larger layout. Please maximise your browser window if you haven't or if possible increase your screen resolution to a larger size.


Q I am having technical issues with the website

The website should work across all browsers but may have some layout issues with older browsers. We recommend you update to the latest version of your web browser. If you are experiencing another technical issue, you can email your query using the Feedback tab accessed on the Home page.


Q Can I provide feedback or comments?

We welcome your comments and suggestions on the HIVE platform itself, the types of records you would like to see made available for transcription or suggestions for improvements that could be made to the HIVE. Please use the Feedback tab to email your feedback or comments.