Braille Formats

Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011



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The Braille Authority of North America

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The mission and purpose of the Braille Authority of North America are to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics. BANA promotes and facilitates the use, teaching, and production of braille. It publishes rules, interprets, and renders opinions pertaining to braille in all existing codes. It deals with codes now in existence or to be developed in the future, in collaboration with other countries using English braille. In exercising its function and authority, BANA considers the effects of its decisions on other existing braille codes and formats; the ease of production by various methods; and acceptability to readers.

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Braille Authority of North America (BANA) Members

American Council of the Blind (ACB)

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Associated Services for the Blind (ASB)

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)

Braille Institute of America (BIA)

California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEBVI)

CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CCBVI)

National Braille Association (NBA)

National Braille Press (NBP)

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

Associate Members

Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust

Crawford Technologies

T-Base Communications


Table of Contents




Section 1 Basic Principles and General Formats

1.1       Fundamentals

1.2       Technical Materials

1.3       Partially Technical Works

1.4       Definitions, Format, and Terminology

1.5       Volume Size, Numbering, and Ending Indication

1.6       Page Size, Line Length, and Line Spacing

1.7       Titles and Running Heads

1.8       Paragraph Format

1.9       Word Division

1.10     Print Page Numbers

1.11     Material Printed Across Facing Pages

1.12     Letter/Number or Number/Number Combinations

1.13     Numeric and Alphabetic Print Page Numbers

1.14     Braille Page Numbers

1.15     Foreign Material in English Context

1.16     Volume Labels

1.17     Samples

Section 2 Transcriber-Generated Pages and Front Matter

2.1       Fundamentals

2.2       Transcriber-Generated Page Basics

2.3       Title Pages

2.4       Second and Subsequent Title Pages

2.5       Special Symbols Page

2.6       Transcriber's Notes Page

2.7       Front Matter Basics

2.8       Book Covers and Jackets

2.9       Dedications

2.10     Table of Contents

2.11     Other Front Matter

2.12     Body Matter

2.13     Samples

Section 3 Transcriber's Notes

3.1       Fundamentals

3.2       Format

3.3       Placement of Transcriber's Notes

3.4       Technical Codes

3.5       Sample

Section 4 Headings

4.1       Fundamentals

4.2       Heading Hierarchy

4.3       General Provisions for Centered, Cell-5, and Cell-7 Headings

4.4       Centered Headings

4.5       Cell-5 Headings

4.6       Cell-7 Headings

4.7       Marginal Headings

4.8       Paragraph Headings

4.9       Icons and Headings

4.10     Lengthy Series of Headings

4.11     Reference Marks and Notes to Headings

4.12     Samples

Section 5 Font Attributes

5.1       Fundamentals

5.2       Distinctive Typefaces and Font Attributes

5.3       When Font Attributes May Be Ignored

5.4       Retaining Font Attributes

5.5       Underlining

5.6       Colored Fonts

5.7       Highlighting

5.8       Emphasized Letters within a Word

5.9       Substituting Print Font Indicators

5.10     Words Enclosed in Shapes

5.11     Samples

Section 6 Illustrative Materials

6.1       Fundamentals

6.2       Format

6.3       Descriptions

6.4       Omitted Illustrations

6.5       Concept Maps, Graphic Organizers, Idea Webs

6.6       Flowcharts

6.7       Forms

6.8       Genealogical Charts

6.9       Organizational Charts

6.10     Timelines

6.11     When a Tactile Graphic is Not Produced

6.12     Screenshots

6.13     Slide Presentations

6.14     Samples

Section 7 Boxed Material

7.1       Fundamentals

7.2       Blank Lines

7.3       Boxes

7.4       Boxed Material Continued on Another Print Page

7.5       The Relationship Between Text and Boxes on Facing Print Pages

7.6       Different Colored Boxes

7.7       Boxes within Boxes

7.8       Samples

Section 8 Lists

8.1       Fundamentals

8.2       Simple Embedded Lists

8.3       Simple Vertical Lists

8.4       Lists Enclosed in Boxes

8.5       Simple Lists in Columns

8.6       Nested Lists

8.7       Bulleted Lists

8.8       Some List Items Are Bulleted

8.9       Outlines

8.10     Annotated Lists

8.11     Samples

Section 9 Displayed Material,  Attributions, and Source Information

9.1       Fundamentals

9.2       Format for Displayed Material

9.3       Epigraphs

9.4       Attributions

9.5       Source Citations and Permission to Copy

9.6       Cross-References and Incidental Notes

9.7       Correspondence and Diary Entries

9.8       Samples

Section 10 Exercise Material

10.1     Fundamentals

10.2     Blank Lines

10.3     Directions

10.4     Exercise Questions

10.5     Write-on-Lines Before or After Questions

10.6     Write-on-Lines Within Sentences

10.7     Displayed Text in Exercise Material

10.8     Exercise Examples, Sample Questions with Answers

10.9     Matching

10.10   True-False Exercises

10.11   Formats for Pictures in Exercise Material

10.12   Samples

Section 11 Tables and Related Columns

11.1     Fundamentals

11.2     Table Basics

11.3     Table Headings

11.4     Column Headings

11.5     Row Headings

11.6     Column Entries

11.7     Techniques for Shortening Column Width

11.8     Keying Long Entries

11.9     Skeleton and Partially Filled-In Tables

11.10   Omitted Portion of Print Table

11.11   Graphics with Identified Values

11.12   Wide Tables

11.13   Wide Tables: Facing Pages

11.14   Wide Tables: Vertical Division

11.15   Wide Tables: Interchanged Columns and Rows

11.16   Wide Tables: Listed Table Format

11.17   Wide Tables: Linear Table Format

11.18   Wide Tables: Stairstep Table Format

11.19   Samples

Section 12 Sidebars

12.1     Fundamentals

12.2     Identifying Sidebars

12.3     Formatting Sidebars

12.4     Samples

Section 13 Poetry and Song Lyrics

13.1     Fundamentals

13.2     Poetry within Narrative Text

13.3     Poetry in Stanza or Verse Form

13.4     Separation of Stanzas

13.5     Shape Poetry

13.6     Poems with Irregular Poetic Lines

13.7     Prose Poetry

13.8     Reference Marks and Notes in Poetry

13.9     Scansion, Accent, and Meter

13.10   Hymnals and Songbooks

13.11   Lyrics with Music Notation

13.12   Titles, Hymn or Song Numbers

13.13   Samples

Section 14 Plays, Cartoons, and Graphic Novels

14.1     Fundamentals

14.2     Cast of Characters

14.3     Scene Settings

14.4     Stage Directions

14.5     Prose Plays

14.6     Verse Plays

14.7     Mixed Prose and Verse Plays

14.8     Conclusion of Play

14.9     Interviews

14.10   Cartoons

14.11   Graphic Novels

14.12   Samples

Section 15 Line-Numbered and Line-Lettered Text

15.1     Fundamentals

15.2     Margin-Numbered Paragraphs

15.3     General Provisions for Line-Numbered Text

15.4     Line-Numbered Prose

15.5     Line-Numbered Poetry

15.6     Interspersed Line-Numbered Prose and Verse

15.7     Poetic Rhyme Scheme

15.8     Counted Words

15.9     Verse-Numbered Texts in Religious Material

15.10   Samples

Section 16 Notes

16.1     Fundamentals

16.2     Reference Marks

16.3     Reference Indicators and Construction Pattern

16.4     Notes

16.5     Miscellaneous Notes Issues

16.6     Notes in Tables and Columned Material

16.7     Endnotes

16.8     Heavily Annotated Materials

16.9     Keying Technique for Marginal Labels

16.10   Samples

Section 17 Spellers

17.1     Fundamentals

17.2     Spelling Word Lists

17.3     Word Lists Used with Activities

17.4     Word Lists with Partial Emphasis

17.5     Marked Words in a List

17.6     Definition Lists

17.7     Syllabified Words

17.8     Blanks and Omissions

17.9     Intentional Errors

17.10   Crossed-Out Letters

17.11   Insertions

17.12   Nonalphabetical Signs

17.13   Samples

Section 18 Grammar

18.1     Fundamentals

18.2     Emphasized Capital Letters

18.3     Punctuation

18.4     Nonalphabetical Signs

18.5     Words or Abbreviations Printed Above Sentences

18.6     Proofreading Marks and Edited Copy

18.7     Linear Sentence Diagramming

18.8     Spatial Sentence Diagrams with Arrows

18.9     Spatial Sentence Diagramming

18.10   Samples

Section 19 Codes and Puzzles

19.1     Fundamentals

19.2     Number, Letter, and Other Puzzle Codes

19.3     Words in Code

19.4     Morse Code

19.5     Crossword Puzzles

19.6     Word Puzzles and Letter Searches

19.7     Sudoku

19.8     Samples

Section 20 Tests

20.1     Fundamentals

20.2     Placement of Test Sections

20.3     Format

20.4     Test Questions and Answer Choices

20.5     Illustrative Material

20.6     Standardized State Tests and Test Booklets

Section 21 Pronunciation

21.1     Fundamentals

21.2     Pronunciation Basics

21.3     Simple Pronunciation

21.4     Diacritic Pronunciation

21.5     Instructional Content

21.6     Reference Sections with Syllabification and/or Pronunciations

21.7     Pronunciation and Summary Keys

21.8     Pronunciation Keys and the Special Symbols Page

21.9     Samples

Section 22 Alphabetic References

22.1     Fundamentals

22.2     General Format for Alphabetic References

22.3     Guide Words

22.4     Indexes

22.5     References without Syllabification or Pronunciation

22.6     Glossaries

22.7     Thesauruses

22.8     Dictionaries and Facsimiles

22.9     Samples

Section 23 Bibliographies

23.1     Fundamentals

23.2     Bibliography Format

23.3     Annotated Bibliographies

23.4     Foreign Language in Bibliographies

Appendix A Changes and Amendments

Appendix B Agency Decisions

Appendix C Blank Lines

Appendix D Foreign Language Symbols

Appendix E Interpoint Guidelines

Appendix F Glossary for Transcribers

Appendix G General Purpose Symbols




As chair of the Technical Formats Committee of BANA I would like to thank the committee members, consultants, and observers who dedicated so much of their time and energy to this project over the last several years.

In addition, I would like to thank the BANA Board members for their patience as we worked through the process. They did not micromanage the process and, in fact, gave us plenty of leeway to discuss the most radical of changes. That allowed us to focus our thoughts on what would be best for the braille reader and the transcriber.

Next, the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. The staff provided us with space during several summers for a week of intensive discussion and work. They went far beyond providing space, and the staff met our every need with a deep level of support.

Last, but certainly not least, are the people on whom we depended for thoughtful consideration of our work. Transcribers, the members of the Literary Committee, advisers from other committees, and our readers. The readers had the task of looking at the entire document and making comments on errors or areas that were not clear; they gave suggestions to improve the document, and had questions about why we made some changes that caused us to rethink a number of issues.

Lynnette Taylor



This new edition of Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011 is more than a revision of the 1997 edition. Extensive changes have been made, and this book now supersedes all previous editions and updates. A partial list of the changes may be found in Appendix A.

The original intent of this revision was that English Braille American Edition would be revised at the same time and that all of the formatting decisions for both literary and technical materials would be covered in this document. As EBAE is not yet complete there will be a period during which they overlap. Where there are conflicts follow Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011.

Another guideline which is nearing completion is the revised Foreign Language Guidelines for Braille Transcription. Again, during the overlapping period, where there are conflicts follow Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011.

The basic philosophy behind the changes in Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011 is simplicity. Decisions were based on readability and comprehension for braille readers. It is expected that these guidelines will be applied unless a situation is not covered. Making the guidelines straightforward allows transcribers to make decisions when confronted with material not specifically addressed within these sections. BANA made the decision that this document is to serve as a set of guidelines. The choice of the word Section as a heading has its roots in the idea that this document is a set of guidelines, and there is not a hard and fast rule for everything encountered in print. The committee tried to make Braille Formats as simple to follow as possible, to eliminate exceptions, and to minimize cross references. Repetition of some material keeps cross references to a minimum.

We have asked the braille readers on the committee to add a rationale at the beginning of most of the sections to explain why we have made the changes. It is called the Braille Reader's Perspective.

The changes in the layout to Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011 are obvious immediately.

Presentation of Guidelines. Each section is complete, with few references to other sections. An effort has been made to use a hierarchy of information such that basic material is presented first, followed by more detailed concepts.

Decimal Numbering. The change in numbering connects all elements of the sections and subsections.

Examples. Short examples are embedded within the guidelines, with longer examples at the end of the section. This allows the reader to see how the guidelines are intended to be used and eliminates the need to hunt through full-page examples for a few lines.

Sectional Page Numbering. This new page numbering provides a way for updates to be added to Braille Formats more easily.

Appendices. There are several appendices covering blank lines, foreign language symbols, interpoint guidelines, agency decisions, and a glossary.

There are four major format changes from the 1997 edition.

Braille Page Numbering. A distinction is made between transcriber inserted pages and print pages, which allows us to retain front matter print page order.

Headings. A new heading level accommodates the need for additional distinction in today's textbooks.

Nested Lists. All multilevel lists are formatted the same and the principles apply for all situations. Each level is indented two cells, with all runovers in the same cell. Readers report that as soon as they get to the first runover line they know how many levels they are reading. This avoids confusion with clashing indent and runovers in the same cell.

Footnotes. Most footnotes are now at the end of the print page. This enables the flow of thought to be preserved. There is a new generic footnote indicator which will be used with all types of footnotes.

Lynnette Taylor, Chair (1998-2011)

Deborah Brown (1998-2011)

Susan Christensen (2001-2011)

Dena Garrett (2003-2011)

Debbie Gillespie (1998-2011)

Ann Kelt (1999-2011)

Sandy Smith (2000-2011)

Dorothy Worthington (2007-2011)