Keying tool how-tos

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Below are listed several FAQ's regarding the keying tool and completing an image set. For the Mac version click here.

Set Form Type

For projects where the large majority of image sets belong to a single form type (such as most naturalization projects), we have selected a “default” form type for you.  This will help you to jump right into keying without setting the same form type over and over.  You can always click the button above the field help to change the default form type if you find it is necessary. Use the information, and example images, on the project page to determine the form type that best fits the record. If you cannot determine what form type to use send a screen shot to our support team,


Projects that have multiple form types will prompt you to select the form type prior to keying. The “Select Form Type” drop-down menu now has more room for larger and better descriptions of form types, links to the online examples of each form, and a list of the fields that the form has.


Download Image Sets

Click on the Download Image Sets button. This will bring up the Download screen.

The “Download Image Sets” popup has one or two separate tabs, one for Keying and the other for Review projects. You can filter projects by difficulty, language and location.  To filter the projects click on the “funnel” icon next to the name of the item you’d like to filter by.  The projects will remain filtered each time you open the “Download Image Sets” popup.

Select the project you would like to work on and the number of image sets you would like to download then click on the Download button.


Pick a Project for Me Button

Use the new “Pick a Project for Me” to automatically download and open a high-priority project for keying.


Can I quit an image set before completing it?

You can quit an image set at any time and the program will automatically save the information you've input. Once you've finished an image set, remember to submit the image set so that it can move further in the process of being posted.

If you decide that you cannot complete keying an image set, you can cancel it. Click the Select Image Set tab, highlight the image set you wish to cancel, then click the Cancel Image Set button. This will clear out the data that you have typed in and send the image set back for someone else to work on.

What is the best way to move from field to field?

There are a handful of ways to move from field to field, and depending on what you are doing, one way may be more useful than another.

  • The Tab key
  • The Enter key
  • The arrow keys

The Tab and Enter keys are most useful while you're typing in the information from the image, and the arrow keys tend to be more useful if you want to navigate around the data fields in the table at the bottom of the application window.

How do I go back to an image I have already keyed/reviewed?

In the upper left corner of the tool there are blue arrows you can click on to move forward or backward through images you have already viewed.


Can I make the image darker/lighter?

There are a couple of ways for you to make adjustments to the contrast of the image to make it easier to read.

  • Click the High Contrast button at the top of the image
  • Clicking the Image Options button
  • Click on Image > Image Options in the menu bar.



Can I make the image smaller/larger?

There is more than one way to make the image smaller or larger.

  • Click the magnifying glass buttons
  • Choose a zoom percentage in the drop-down list
  • Click on the desired option in the Image menu
  • Ctrl+PageUp or Ctrl+PageDown
  • With the image selected, hold Ctrl and scroll your mouse wheel

Image Viewer Tools

The image viewer has a number of tools to help you read the information on the image more easily. The most frequently-used tools can be found at the top of the image in a toolbar.


From left to right, the buttons are (with keyboard shortcuts in brackets):

  • Zoom in
  • Zoom out
  • Set zoom
  • Rotate clockwise [Ctrl-R]
  • Rotate counter-clockwise [Ctrl-T]
  • Fine rotate [F10]
  • High contrast
  • Open Image Options box
  • Toggle Highlights on and off
  • Toggle Guides on and off

These options can also be found in the Image menu in the menu bar.

Field Helps

If you have read the field help, and are familiar with the project, you may decide to minimize the Field Help by using the double arrows. To expand the Field Help again you simply click on the double arrows again. Minimizing the Field Help will expand your data entry area to the entire bottom of the screen.


How do I enter record data?

Entering record data simply involves typing the information you see written on the image into the corresponding data cell in the bottom of the application window. As you type, you can move to the next field by pressing either Tab or Enter, whichever is more comfortable for you.

What if I am not able to see the data entry area?

If you are not able to see the data entry area click on the dotted lines and drag your mouse up. This will enlarge the area of the keying tool beneath the image and you will be able to see the data entry fields.


Once you have completed entering the data from the first image click on the Next: Begin Next Image button to move on to the next image.


What’s this list of words that appeared while I was typing?

The list of words that shows up while you're typing is the drop-down list. It’s a list of entries that have are pertinent to the time frame and location for the records we are keying. We often create special lists for the projects we are keying to help assist with determining what the names,locations, occupations, etc are on the record.


The drop-down list is meant to give you suggestions for words you may not be able to read and standardize entries for fields with a limited number of possibilities, like Gender or Age.

How do I select an option from the drop-down list?

You can select an option in the drop-down list a couple of different ways.

  • You can type the number of the option you would like to choose
  • You can use the arrow keys to highlight the option you want and press Enter
  • You can continue typing to finish the entry

How do I key header data?

Entering header data is just like entering data for an individual record; choose the first cell and begin typing. There are fewer fields in the header, and most of the information remains the same for the images in your image set, meaning you probably won't need to retype it all.

What is the header data?

Header data is the information for the document itself and includes fields that will stay the same for all the individuals on the image.

What should I do if the data entry form doesn't match the image?

If the data entry form doesn't match the image, go back and make sure that you have selected the correct form type in step 2.

How long do I have to complete an image set? Is there a time limit?

There is a time limit for completing an image set, but don’t worry; you have 10 days to complete the image set. Also, you do not have to complete an image set in a single sitting. You can close the program at any time and your work to that point will be saved until the next time you want to work on it.

How do I offer feedback or report issues with the program?

There are a couple of ways to offer feedback or report issues.

  • Click the “Contact Support” link in the top right corner of the program
  • In the menu bar, click Help > Contact Support
  • Send an email directly to

When asking for image specific assistance it is helpful to include the image set number for the image set you are referring to.

Can I view more than one image at a time?

If you wish to view another image in the current set you are working on there is an option in the image tool bar for this. Using this you can view any of the images in the set in a separate viewing window.


How do I correct my data entry errors?

You can correct errors just by clicking in the field you want to update and typing the corrected text. When you're finished, you can move onto another field and the corrected text will be saved.

If you need to add or remove a record you can use the Ctrl+A or Ctrl+D shortcuts or click on the Add Record or Remove Record icons.


To move a record click on the record then use the up or down arrows.


Foreign Language Helps

International Characters and Diacritics

World Archives Project: International Characters and Diacritics


Polish Handwriting Helps


Hungarian Alphabet


Czech Alphabet


Romanian Alphabet