Editorial Method for Financial Records

Although the standard Editorial Method for the Joseph Smith Papers generally applies to the Financial Records series, financial documents differ from most other documents in notable ways. The following statement of editorial method, therefore, describes style decisions unique to financial documents. In some cases, these style decisions depart from the standard Editorial Method in order to make the financial records more usable.

  • Text verification: The second-level verification for financial documents diverges slightly from the rest of the Joseph Smith Papers. The normal process for verifying that a document is transcribed correctly is to employ a double-blind tandem proofread of the transcript against an image of the original document. Because accurately transcribing financial documents often requires specialized knowledge of record-keeping practices and scribal patterns, the Financial Records series sometimes employs an alternative verification process, wherein a document specialist works alone to compare the image and transcript.
  • Tables: Financial documents are commonly composed of numerical entries, such as records of accounts and debts in ledgers or daybooks. These entries are transcribed as tables to aid understanding and data extraction. Tables are standardized and do not replicate the exact spacing and formatting of the original, but the information is retained in a way that seeks to preserve original intent and follow a logical organization. Lines demarcating rows and columns are not transcribed.
  • Rows: Each entry has its own row. If an entry spans more than one line, it is transcribed in a single cell and includes line breaks.
  • Columns: The number of columns in tables remains consistent throughout a financial document regardless of whether there is content in every cell of each column. Generally, there are separate columns for the date, transaction details (recipient, goods, services, etc.), and transaction amount (see Amounts below).
  • Dates: If a date is included in an entry, it is standardized to be in the top left cell of the entry. In chronological records, like daybooks, the date—which was usually written at the top of the page or in the course of transactions—has been supplied where necessary for clarification.
  • Amounts: Amounts are generally transcribed in the far-right column of each entry to aid data analysis. Formatting is standardized so each amount appears in a single cell, with dollar and cents separated by a decimal point. If there is no dollar amount in the original, a zero is silently supplied. For example, “.25” would be transcribed as “0.25”. The words “dollars” or “cents” are not included with amounts, even if the words appear in the original. If there is a dollar amount with no indication of cents, a decimal point and two zeros are added. For example, “5” would be transcribed as “5.00”. Commas or spaces between dollars and cents are standardized as decimal points. Dollar signs are transcribed before the amount no matter where they appear in the original.
  • Totals: In the original documents, sums are often separated from the rest of a column by a horizontal line. In transcripts, this is rendered as underlining applied to text in the cell above the total.
  • Dittos: In most types of financial documents, the word “ditto”, its abbreviation “do”, and the ditto symbol (") are transcribed as they appear in the original. In transcripts of daybooks and invoices, however, ditto words and symbols are silently removed and replaced with the intended word or words or amount.
  • Notations: Extraneous mathematical equations or other notations or flourishes are not rendered unless they are considered pertinent to the rest of the information in the financial document. X’s written on invoices designating that a good was received or in daybooks signifying that information has been copied into a ledger are not transcribed, because they are considered redacted marks. Em-dashes or equals signs acting as placeholders or separating one row from another are not transcribed. 
  • Cancellations and insertions: In accordance with the general Editorial Method, revisions to amounts are transcribed to show the entire amount canceled and inserted. For example, if “32” was revised to “34” by canceling the “2” and inserting a “4”, the revision is transcribed as “32 <34>” instead of “32<4>”.

This statement of editorial method will be updated as needed as the Financial Records series expands.