Principles of Print to Braille Transcription
BRL REFERENCE DESK
Tools and resources
Columned Material, Listed Items, Outlines, and Indexes
- Columned material. This Code section contains provisions for the transcription of vertically arranged items of any kind that are not numbered or lettered and that may or may not show a discernible order. Such material may be printed on a page in a single column or in several side-by-side columns separated by blank space.
Specific formats that must be used in transcribing certain other columned materials are provided elsewhere in the Code, as follows.
Bibliographies and reference, Section 2e below
Indented lists, Section 2c below
Listed items, Section 2 below
Lists of characters in plays, Rule 9, Section 1a
Multiple-column lists, Section 2b below
Numbered or lettered items in exercise or tests Rule 13, Section 7 and 8d
Numbered or lettered lists, Section 2d below
Word lists in speller, Rule 15, Section 1c
- General provisions for columned material
(1) Whenever the continuity of narrative text is interrupted by a full print page or more of columned material that is to be included at the same location in the braille edition, see Rule 1, Section 7a(4) for the transcriber's notes that are required to indicate text interruption and continuation.
(2) Columned material must be preceded and followed by a blank line except where it immediately precedes or follows the page change indicator. See also Rule 1, Section 12b(7). For columned material shown in a box or set off by lines, follow the provisions given in Rule 6, Section 3b.
(3) Follow the print copy for the capitalization and punctuation of all items in the column.
(4) Bullets, hollow dots, check marks, and other signs printed before each listed item solely for visual effect must be ignored in braille. However, if only some items in a list are specifically marked using these or similar print signs follow the directives given in Rule 3, Section 5.
(5) Whenever the items in columned material are printed in a discernible order, e.g., alphabetized, that order must be preserved in the braille edition.
(6) If extensive columns consist of short items, it may be possible to present this material in several columns across the braille page, as provided in Section 1e(2) below.
- Placement of columned material. When columned material requires one braille page or less, it must be placed on a single braille page. The material must not be divided between braille pages even though this results in considerable blank space being left on the braille page that precedes the columned material.
(1) Columned material shown without headings.
Columned material that requires more than one braille page should be started where it follows the narrative text in normal context if there is space for at least three print rows of columned material.
(2) Columned material shown with headings. Unless there is space at the bottom of a braille page for the heading(s) and at least two print rows of columned material, the braille heading(s) must begin on a new braille page.
- Headings for columned material
(1) Single columns with no subitems. A heading printed above a single column of vertically arranged unnumbered or unlettered items that show no subitem should be treated as a braille column heading as provided in Rule 4, Section 5.
(2) Columns with main items and subitems. Preceding a single column that contains main items and subitems, use either a centered braille heading or a cell-5 braille heading.
(3) Single columns of long items. Preceding a single column of long items, sentences, or other items that span the width of the braille page or requires runovers, it is preferable to use either a centered braille heading or a cell-5 braille heading.
(4) Side-by-side columns with a single print heading. If a single heading is printed above two or more side-by-side columns, it must be represented by a centered braille heading.
- Formats for column headings
(1) Long column headings
(a) Column headings may be condensed or abbreviated as necessary. A transcriber's note must precede the columned material to identify abbreviations that are not easily recognizable within the context of the surrounding text.
(2) Column headings of different lengths. When headings of adjacent columns are of different lengths, the heading must end on the same braille line.
(b) The following technique also may be used to represent long column headings. Assign sequences of braille numbers and/or letters for the print headings, each requiring no more than three braille cells. A transcriber's note containing a list of the number and/or letter keys must precede the columned material. Format for the key listing must be as provided in Rule 8, Section 9c(3).
(3) Repeated column headings. If columned material must be continued on one or more braille pages, the column heading (followed by a separation line, if required) must be repeated on the succeeding page(s). No blank line is required between a running head, if used, and a repeated heading. EXCEPTION: In stairstep format, do not repeat column headings that are placed according to Sections 1f(3)(a) and (h) below.
- General format for columned material
(1) Single columns. When a single column is shown in the print text, each item within the column must begin at the left margin.
(2) Side-by-side columns. Column shown side by side on one print page should be presented together on one braille page whenever possible.
(a) The first column must begin at the left margin. Two blank cells must be left between the end of the longest item in the first column and the left-hand margin of the second column.
(3) Columns containing subitems
(b) It is permissible to leave only one blank cell between adjacent columns of numerals that show no reference marks if this spacing would allow all the columns to be contained in the width of the braille page. However, when the column headings consist of words, two blank cells must be left between adjacent columns.
(c) When the braille line cannot contain all the unrelated columns shown side by side on the print page, place as many columns as possible across the braille page with the remaining columns below them. Such rearrangement does not require explanation in a transcriber's note.
(a) When subitems are shown within columned material, all main items must start in cell 1 with runovers in cell 5. Subitems must start in cell 3 with runovers in cell 7, sub-subitems must start in cell 5 with runovers in cell 9, and so on.
(4) Alignment of column items. If the text shows columned material centered or if uneven left-hand margins are used in order to align certain items within a column, disregard this format. In braille, columned items must be left-aligned. However, numerals that are aligned by place value generally should be brailled as shown, i.e., placed to align digits, decimals, or commas.
(b) If columned material containing subitems must be continued on one or braille pages, the main item that precedes the continuation of listed subitems must be repeated, followed by (cont.) on the succeeding page(s).
(5) Runovers of column items. When it is necessary to use two or more braille lines to present a single item within a column, indent such runovers two cells to the right of the left-hand margin of the column.
- Formats for columns of line-by-line related items
(1) Columnar format. Care must be taken to preserve in braille the line-by-line, column-to-column relationship shown in the print text. Parallel items in each of the columns must begin on the same braille line even though items in some columns may require additional braille lines.
(a) Guide dots within related columns. When four or more blank cells are left after a short item in a column that is followed on the same braille line by entries in other columns, leave one blank cell before inserting a series of the unspaced guide dot symbol (5) within the column. Guide dots must not be inserted following any runovers of items in related columns.
(2) Rearrangement of columned material. Sometimes it is possible to make a better braille presentation by interchanging the vertical and horizontal arrangement of items within the print columns. This should be done only if it preserves the clarity of the text, and a transcriber's note must be inserted before the material to explain the rearrangement, as follows.
(b) Blanks or omissions within related columns
 Follow the print copy and use a dash (36, 36) or an ellipsis (3, 3, 3) left-adjusted in the column to represent a blank or omission indicated by a print dash or an ellipsis.
 To represent a blank space shown in a print column, insert a series of unspaced dot 5s left-adjusted within the column. Explain this usage in a transcriber's note, as follows.
A series of dots 5s across the width of a column indicates a blank space in print.
Horizontal and vertical arrangement of items in print columns is interchanged in braille.
(3) Stairstep format for columned material. When print line-by-line relationship between columns cannot be reproduced in the width of the braille line, follow the directions given below.
(a) Insert a transcriber's note as shown below to indicate the format change. If column headings are used in print, they must be inserted at appropriate place in the note. Begin First column (or the first print column heading) in cell 5 and indent each succeeding column heading two cells farther on a new braille line. Place the closing transcriber's note symbol after the last column heading.
Print column form changed as follows:
Third column, etc.
(b) After completing the transcriber's note, leave one blank line before presenting materials in rows of the print columns on separate and consecutive lines, as follows: begin each item in the first column in cell 1, each item in the second column in cell 3, each item in the third column in cell 5, and so on.
(c) Runovers in stairstep columns. Any runovers must be left-adjusted, i.e., started in the same cell as the beginning of items in that particular column.
(d) Blanks or omissions in stairstep columns
 Follow the print copy and insert an appropriately indented dash (36, 36) or ellipsis (3, 3, 3) top represent a blank or an omission that is indicated by a print dash or an ellipsis.
(e) Whenever possible, items shown on the same print line in all related columns should be placed on the same braille page.
 To represent a blank space shown in print, insert a series of three unspaced dot 5s appropriately indented. Explain this usage as follows.
A series of three dot 5s indicates a blank space in print
(f) When stairstep columned material is continued on succeeding braille pages, column headings that are placed as directed in (a) above must not be repeated.
(g) One blank line must be left following completion of the stairstep material before resuming the regular text.
(h) Combined stairstep column headings and items. In certain material it may advantageous to place items shown in adjacent columns together on the same braille line. The combined column headings as well as the column items should be separated by a semicolon and indented in the transcriber's note as shown below. Do not repeat these combined column headings when the material is continued on succeeding braille pages.
Print column form changed as follows:
Heading of first column Head of second column
Heading of third column
Heading of fourth column, etc.
(i) Section subheadings in stairstep format. When it is necessary to indicate groupings of certain sections within columned material brailled in stairstep format, insert cell-5 headings before each section. This usage must be explained in a transcriber's note that precedes the material, such as the following.
Print shows columns divided into _____ sections. In braille, each section is preceded by a cell-5 heading.
If the items within a section of stairstep columned material must be continued on succeeding braille pages, repeat the cell-5 braille heading that precedes the section, followed by (cont.).
- Reference marks and notes in columned material. Reference marks must be transcribed and placed according to Rule 12, Section 1.
(1) Notes to material in columnar format
(a) Follow the print copy for placement of the reference indicator either before or after a column heading or a column item.
(2) Notes to material in stairstep format. When placing notes in stairstep format, the transcriber must take into account the needs of the reader and the nature of the columned material.
(b) Immediately after completion of the columned material, place the note (or the first note) preceded by the appropriate reference indicator starting in cell 7, with runovers in cell 5. No blank line must be left between the columned material and the note or between notes in a series.
(c) Special typefaces and abbreviations shown in the following notes must be brailled in accordance with Rule 1, Section 15c.
 Source citations or attributions must be transcribed as directed in Rule 1, Section 18b.
(d) Occasionally, information in a note or notes is essential for an understanding of the columned material before starting to read it. In this case, insert a transcriber's note before beginning the transcription of the columned material, such as:
 Permission to copy notices or footnotes printed with or without reference markers must be transcribed according to Rule 12, Sections 1-3.
Notes(s) shown in the material below.
Place the note (or the first note) on the next line, preceded by the appropriate reference indicator starting in cell 7 with runovers in cell 5. When more than one note is shown, no blank line must be left between the notes.
(a) Usually the general provisions given in Section 1g(1) above are applicable.
(b) Sometimes information in a note or notes will be needed by the reader at specific points within the stairstep. In such cases, the optimum note placement is in cell 7 starting on the braille line immediately below the point of reference, with runovers in cell 5. No blank line must precede or follow such notes unless required by other braille formats.
- Listed items For the purposes of this Code section, lists consist of items that may be rearranged in fewer or more columns that are shown in the print text unlike columned material in which the arrangement of the columns must be duplicated to maintain the relationship shown in print.
- General provisions for lists
(1) A list must be preceded and followed by a blank line except where it immediately precedes or follows the page change indicator. See also Rule 1, Section 12b(7). If a list is shown in a box or set off by lines, follow the provisions given in Rule 6, Section 3b.
(2) Headings of lists must following the provision given in Rule 4, i.e., a braille column heading with a separation line may precede only a single-column list without subitems; a centered heading or a cell-5 heading may precede a single-column list with or without subitems; only a centered heading may precede a multiple-column list. When a list must be continued on one or more braille pages, repeat the headline followed by (cont.) at the top of each of these pages. No blank line is required between a running head, if used, and a repeated heading.
(3) Bullets, hollow dots, check marks, and other signs printed before each listed item solely for visual effect must be ignored in braille. However, when only certain items in a list are specifically marked using bullets, check marks, stars, or other print signs, follow the directives given in Rule 3, Section 5.
(4) Preserve the alphabetical order---whether horizontal or vertical---that is shown in print.
(5) Each item in the list must begin in cell 1 with runovers in cell 3.
(6) Follow print copy for the capitalization and punctuation of all items in the list.
(7) Placement of lists. It is permissible to divide a list between braille pages if this does not adversely affect the clarity of the text. When a list is divided between braille pages, observe the following.
(a) A list without a heading should follow the preceding narrative text if there is space at the bottom of the braille page for three listed items.
(b) A list with a heading must be started on a new braille page unless there is space at the bottom of the page for the heading and at least two listed items.
- Multiple-column lists. When it is obvious that a single list has been printed in side-by-side columns in order to conserve space, the print arrangement need not be duplicated. The material may be arranged in fewer or more braille columns. Leave two blank cells between adjacent columns. Such rearrangement does not require explanation in a transcriber's note. When the lists are alphabetized, see Section 2a(4) above.
- Indented lists. If a list contains items and subitems, the main items must start in cell 1 with runovers in cell 5, subitems must start in cell 3 with runovers in cell 7, sub-subitems must start in cell 5 with runovers in cell 9, and so forth. When an indented list must be continued on one or more braille pages, the main item that precedes the continuation of listed subitems must be repeated followed by (cont.) on the succeeding pages.
- Numbered or lettered lists. For the transcription of numbered or lettered items found in exercises, drills, and test materials, see Rule 13, Section 7.
(1) Run-in lists, often called paragraph lists, consist of a series of short items run into the text. When items are numbered or lettered, the numbers or letters are usually shown enclosed by parentheses. For such lists follow the print copy. The number indicator must precede parenthesized numbers, but the letter indicator before parenthesized letters.
(2) Displayed lists, sometimes called vertical lists, of numbered or lettered items must be preceded and followed by a blank line. If a heading is shown, use either a centered or a cell-5 braille heading as provided in Rule 4, Sections 2 and 3.
(a) Follow the print copy for capitalization and punctuation, but ignore special typeface unless it is required for emphasis or distinction.
(b) Place the number or letter of each listed item starting in cell 1, and begin all runovers in cell 3.
- Bibliographies and reference lists. In addition to the general provisions given in Section 2a above, when transcribing bibliographies and reference lists observe the following.
(1) Retain the special typefaces shown in these lists as provided in Rule 3, Section 1c and 1d.
(2) References to source material must be brailled in accordance with Rule 1, Section 15c.
(3) If two or more works by the same author are listed, a print dash is usually substituted for the author's name in the second and following entries. Use the braille dash (36, 36), spaced as shown in the print copy, to represent this dash.
(4) Foreign words in bibliographies and reference lists. See Rule 1, Section 6a for definitions of anglicized and foreign words. In addition to the general provisions given above, when transcribing bibliographies and reference lists containing foreign book titles, names, words, or phrases, follow the directions below.
(a) Titles in languages using the Latin alphabet. If foreign titles are accompanied by English translation follow the print copy.
 Use uncontracted braille for the titles of books and articles and for the names of journals.
(b) Titles in languages using non-Latin alphabets. Follow the provisions given in Rule 1, Section 6d when transcribing bibliographies and reference lists containing material in non-Latin languages.
 Use contracted braille for the names of authors and publishers and for all place names.
 Insert the accent symbol (4) before each foreign character or accented letter.
 Do not use the letter indicator before any single-letter foreign word. Use this indicator before any foreign ordinal ending that is added to an arabic or roman numeral.
NOTE: If Greek, Hebrew, or Russian titles are accompanied by English translations, braille only the translations. Note the omission of the non-Latin foreign titles in transcriber's notes.
- Reference marks and notes in lists. Transcribe reference marks according to the provisions of Rule 12, Section 1. The format for notes must be as provided in Rule 12, Section 3.
(1) Immediately after completion of the list, place the note (or the first note) preceded by the appropriate reference indicator starting in cell 7, with runovers in cell 5. No blank line must be left between notes in a series.
(2) When information in the note(s) is essential for an understanding of the listed items before starting to read the list, follow the directives given in Section 1g(1)(d) above.
- Outline subdivisions using numerals and letters. Follow the print copy for capitalization of divisional numerals and letters, using periods and enclosure symbols as shown. The letter indicator is not required before outline letters that are in contact with punctuation or enclosure symbols.
- Outline subdivisions using decimal numeration. The braille decimal point (46) and not the period must be used when transcribing the subdivisions of outlines that show decimal numeration, such as 4.8.3.
- Outline indention. The placement of outline divisions and the indention of runovers must be as provided below.
(1) Brief outlines set off from the text. In such an outline, the divisions, subdivisions, and runovers must be indented and spaced as provided in Section 4c below for the entries, subentries, and runovers in an index.
(2) Texts printed in outline form. If an entire text (such as this Code) or an entire section of a text (such as an appendix) is printed in outline form, follow the format given below.
(a) Begin each main division in cell 3. Indent successively two braille cells farther to the right for the beginning of each subdivision level. All runovers must begin in cell 1. EXCEPTION: When a textbook printed in outline form includes numbered or lettered exercise, drill, or test materials, the entire text must be transcribed according to Rule 13, Section 7.
(b) A braille page guide must be centered on the last line of each page. The guide must be identify the final outline division on the braille page. For example, the braille page guide would be Rule 7, § 4b(1) for this codebook page.
- Indexes. When an index is printed on or inside the book cover, it must be brailled according to the provision of this Code section and placed starting on a new page at the end of the last volume of the braille edition. If an index is printed in two or more column, disregard this format and present the material alphabetically in a single column on the braille page.
- Alphabetical divisions
(1) When the print text shows alphabetical divisions that are set off by initial letters, each of these letters must be preceded by the letter indicator and centered on the braille line. Follow the print copy as to capitalization, and do not leave a blank line before or after such initial letters.
(2) If the print text uses only blank lines to separate the alphabetical divisions, leave a blank line preceding the first entry and also between the alphabetical divisions.
(3) Unless there is space at the bottom of a braille page for an initial letter followed by at least a portion of an index entry the initial letter must be placed on a new page.
- Special typefaces
(1) When the print text uses a special typeface for all entries in an index, this must be ignored in braille.
(2) Braille italics should be used for index entries or subentries that are identified for a specific purpose in the print text, e.g., book titles and foreign terms.
(3) Special typefaces used to emphasize or distinguish certain words, abbreviations, or phrases within index entries must be transcribed according to Rule 3, Section 1c and 1d. Phrases such as See also do not require italics.
(4) When certain page numbers are distinguished by special typefaces in the print text, follow the directives in Rule 3, Section 1.
- Index entries. A complete entry consists of the principal heading with accompanying page references, all subheadings with page references, and all cross-references. Entries, subentries, and their runovers must be placed as provided below even though the text shows the entries printed in paragraph form.
(1) Main entries must start in cell 1. If there are only main entries in the entire index, all runovers must be left aligned in cell 3.
(2) When there are main entries and subentries, the main entries must start in cell 1 with runovers in cell 5, subentries must start in cell 3 with runovers in cell 7, sub-subentries must start in cell 5 with runovers in cell 9, and so forth.
(3) No blank lines must be left between the entries of an index except as noted in Section 4a(2) above.
- Cross-references in an index
(1) A cross-reference with no page number that is shown following an entry must be brailled as part of that entry.
(2) A cross-reference within a subentry must be brailled as part of the subentry.
(3) When shown at the end of a listing of subentries, a cross-reference refers to the entire and it must be given subentry placement.