transcription error

A transcription error is a specific type of data entry error that is commonly made by human operators or by optical character recognition (OCR) programs.

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A transcription error is a specific type of data entry error that is commonly made by human operators or by optical character recognition (OCR) programs. Human transcription errors are usually the result of typographical mistakes caused by striking the wrong key on a keyboard, or by striking two or more wrong keys because of finger misalignment with respect to the keyboard. Electronic transcription errors are generally the result of attempts to scan printed matter that has been compromised, or that is rendered in an unusual font.

Here are some examples of transcription errors.

ZIP code: 54829 (wrong) instead of 54729 (correct)
Name: Stamley (wrong) instead of Stanley (correct)
Date: Jun 34, 2003 (wrong) instead of Jun 23, 2003 (correct)

Transcription errors should not be confused with transposition errors. Transposition errors, examples of which follow, contain characters that are transposed. These are almost always human in origin.

ZIP code: 57429 (wrong) instead of 54729 (correct)
Name: Stnaley (wrong) instead of Stanley (correct)
Date: Jnu 23, 2003 (wrong) instead of Jun 23, 2003 (correct)

Some transcription errors can be detected using spell checking programs. However, many transcription errors, particularly those involving numeric data, are difficult or impossible to detect. Transcription errors have been the bane of authors and editors for decades; as more and more printed matter is transcribed into digital format for use on computers and the Internet, and with the increasing workload on transcribers (both human and electronic), this problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

This was first published in September 2005

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