Oral History Program Style Guide: Section 1: Formatting
NOTE: As of mid-2019, summaries will not be regularly created for an interview.
Interview of X, conducted by Y for the Archives of American Art,* at Place W, on Date N. X speaks of...[body summary of things mentioned by the artist, separated by semicolons]... X also recalls (the following individuals), and others.
*Archives of American Art, or Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, or the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art; add Archives of American Art if not mentioned
In the summary, when talking about a series, state it as the following: series Gentle Solitude - not, Gentle Solitude series
Only [abbreviation] if the abbreviation is used later in the summary.
The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with [Narrator] on [Date]. The interview took place in [Place]**, and was conducted by [Interviewer] for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the [Project].
LEGACY TRANSCRIPTS - NO INITIALS IN BRACKETS: [WHO] has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
TRANSCRIPTS THAT FALL UNDER NEW EDITING PROTOCOLS: [Narrator] and [Interviewer] have reviewed the transcript. Their corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
**DO NOT include home addresses in text.
Sample Preface Language for Special Cases
These examples may be modified as needed to fit a particular transcript.
If the second interviewer interjects just a few times, add only in the preface as a separate sentence that says: "Robert McChesney was also present at the interview." If it is truly more than one interviewer, include the names on the cover page and in the preface.
Example: ". . . interviewed by Mary Fuller McChesney and Robert McChesney."
Transcript is heavily edited by narrator or interviewer; no brackets used
[WHO] has reviewed the transcript. This transcript has been heavily edited.
Use this as the third paragraph of the Preface (see "Content Warnings" under Treatment of Text for more information):
Some language in this transcript may be offensive. It is presented as it exists in the original audio recording for the benefit of research. This material in no way reflects the views of the Archives of American Art or the Smithsonian Institution.
Reconciled with older version of transcript
The original transcript was edited. In [YEAR] the Archives retranscribed the original audio and attempted to create a verbatim transcript. Additional information from the original transcript has been added in brackets and given an –Ed. attribution.
Reconciled with older version of transcript, plus poor audio
This is specifically for legacy interviews.
Poor audio rendered some words inaudible; however, the original transcript was used to clarify some names and words. These names and words are given an –Ed. attribution. In [YEAR] the Archives retranscribed the original audio and attempted to create a verbatim transcript. Additional information from the original transcript has been added in brackets and given an –Ed. attribution.
Corrected or formerly inaudible words
When inaudible words were later identified, they were added in brackets with the year.
Partial transcript reconciliation
The original audio recording was partially transcribed in [date - can be general like mid-1960s]. In [DATE], the full audio was transcribed and added to the partial transcript. The transcript has been lightly edited for readability. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
Replacing a draft, partial, or older transcript on the website
Address on an individual basis with an explanatory note.
Poor sound quality/High number of inaudibles
The sound quality for this interview is poor throughout, leading to an abnormally high number of inaudible sections.
The sound quality for this interview is poor throughout, leading to an abnormally high number of inaudible sections; the first 5 minutes of the interview are mostly inaudible.
Issues of grammar/syntax
Unless the narrator prefers, leave as is and do not include a note in the preface.
Interview is conducted in English with world language parts
This interview was conducted in English. A side conversation in [language] occurred prior to the interview.
Interview is conducted in a world language; no translation
This interview was conducted in French/German/Spanish.
This includes the interview Preface.
- Font: 12 point, Times New Roman.
- One-inch margins on all sides.
- Left justified. No indentations for speakers.
- No curly quotes. Please turn off "smart quotes" in your word processing program.
- Page numbers, bottom center. No number on cover page or on preface page.
- Speakers' full names in all caps, followed by colon and two spaces
- FIRSTNAME LASTNAME: (example: KAY WALKINGSTICK: )
- Unidentified speakers are labeled as UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
- Do not use gendered speaker notations (examples: Mr., Ms., Mrs., female, male)
- Use the serial comma: x, y, and z. (See also "Comma" section under Treatment of Text.)
- Use brackets, not parentheses, for added/removed material. (See "Brackets" and "Ellipses" sections under Treatment of Text.)
- For changes in tape, disc, or track:
- If spoken: This is disc number three.
- [END OF TRACK full track name.]
- Transcribers, please note that the tracks are named correctly. Please include the full track name.
- Example: [END OF TRACK AAA_almara86_532.]
- [END OF INTERVIEW.]
- At the end of an interview there will be an [END OF TRACK <insert full track name>.] and an [END OF INTERVIEW.] in separate instances.
- For test tracks or blank tracks:
- [Track <insert full track name> is blank.]
- [Track <insert full track name> is a test track.]
- Time code
- Will appear within the transcript about every 5 minutes within brackets.
- Will appear as a separate line between paragraphs.
- Will reflect the actual time of where the paragraph break takes place.
- Will begin anew at the beginning of each new track.
The quick brown fox—
More foxes jumping—