FindersKeepers instructions

FindersKeepers is our project for improving the range of the catalogue by drawing on the skills of home-based volunteers.  If you would like to consider joining the project, we would be very glad to have you – to help you decide, here are the full instructions issued to volunteers.  You can also view the FindersKeepers Instructions as a pdf.

Thank you for agreeing to help! If you have not already submitted the contact form at the bottom of the FindersKeepers page, please do that before carrying on. If you have already registered, you are ready to begin. Please read these instructions carefully, and keep referring to them as you work, at least for the first few lists. Let’s start with the two Golden Rules:

Pick a list to work with.
All the FindersKeepers lists are available to download from our catalogue, from the entries with reference numbers ending in /FK. You can click the following link to view all the remaining lists. You could browse the overview to find something that interests you, or click on Advanced Search and search using keywords plus *FK in the RefNo field. (Don’t forget the asterisk!) When you click on an entry to view the full details, you will see a document to download. Click on it and open it to view on your PC.

Let us know what you are working on.
Once you have read through the instructions below, look through the list you have chosen and have a think about how long it is likely to take you to work through.  If it looks like quite a big one – or if you are going to work on a batch of smaller lists – please send a quick email to with FindersKeepers in the subject line, to tell us the reference number. We will then alter the catalogue entry so that it ends with /FKP (which stands for FindersKeepers: Pending). In that way, if other volunteers are searching for lists to work on, they will not duplicate your work.

If the list looks like it won’t take long, feel free just to follow the steps below and email the completed list in to us.

If the list you are working on is a pdf file, your job is a bit simpler: please create a blank table in Word, and copy-type from the pdf. You might want to print it out first. If you find it easier, you can adopt the copy-typing approach with the Word documents, too; or cut-and-paste into a new table. However, it’s still important to read the rest of the instructions so you know how we want the table to look.

The instructions assume you use Word 2010. If you have another version, please email us.

Your mission… is to reformat each entry on the list as four cells in a table. Each row in the table needs a RefNo, a Title and a Date.  The Description field is optional.  If you would like to see the kind of transformation we are hoping for, have a look at an example of an unprocessed list and the same list after processing for a kind of Before-And-After effect.

Start by removing breaks.
To do this, you need to reveal any hidden formatting: type Ctrl+Shift+8, or click the little button on the top-right of the Paragraph section on the Home tab.

From the View tab, choose Draft View.
Draft View

Find and replace section breaks by typing Ctrl+H and clicking More, Special, then selecting “section breaks”. Put a single space in the Replace box and press Replace All. Repeat this process for manual line breaks and manual page breaks.


Next, change the page size: Click Page Layout>Size>A3.

Turn the list into a table.
Select all the entries, using Ctrl+A.


You should now be looking at a table. But it needs headings – four of them.

To add the headings, right-click the top-left cell, and select Insert Rows Above. Then do it again, so you have two additional rows.
Add rows

In the top row, type RefNo, Title, Description and Date as headings. In the second row, type the reference number and the collection title. For now, the best thing to put under “Description” would be the blurb beneath the title. Cut and paste it in.


FindersKeepers involves a lot of cutting and pasting, so if it is new to you, watch this clip on Youtube.

You will want to turn off the prompts that get in the way when cutting and pasting.  Click the File tab, then Options.


Under “Date”, put the date range for the entire list. If the list is too long to work out the full range right now, leave it blank. But you will need to come back to it, because every line of the catalogue needs a date. A reference number and title are also compulsory for every line. If the main text can divide neatly into a Title and Description, so much the better – but Description is optional.

Adjust the columns so that RefNo and Date take up a relatively small space, and the other two fields rather more. If the table is still oddly formatted, select it all (Ctrl+A) then click “clear formatting” on the Style menu.

clear formatting

Put everything in the proper column.
The table you just created needs to have reference numbers under RefNo, dates under Date and so on. This means lots of cutting and pasting. There are plenty of other things to remember:

  • Combine any text split across cells

Select several cells with the left mouse button, then click the right button and choose Merge Cells.  Then delete any paragraph marks (they look like this: ¶ ) and if necessary cut and paste any other text into the right place.

combine text

  • Delete empty rows

Right click a cell in an empty row, then choose Delete… then Delete Whole Row.  By the time you are finished, there should be no empty rows in the table at all.  (You would be forgiven for thinking it helps to make the list more readable by leaving a bit of space – but this is not relevant right now: you are trying to make things convenient to import into a database, not easy to read!)

Delete cells

If you have needed to merge cells holding the Title/Description information, you will find there are empty cells to the left and right, beneath the reference numbers and dates.  You should delete these in just the same way.

  • Sort out the headings

Headings are also there to make a list more readable.  But there is less need for them in an online catalogue, which can be searched with keywords.  Confronted by a heading, your job is to decide whether it is really doing anything useful.

If it isn’t, delete it.

If it is, give it a reference number and a date – otherwise it will disappear into the ether.  You may need to rework some of the text to help it make sense, as this example shows


Now that everything is in the right column, there are a few more steps to go through:

  • Sort out the dates

Keep the Date column reserved for years – details of days/months should go under Description instead. If years aren’t given, you can use the decade, or the century, shortened to “Cent”. The words “late” “mid-” and “early” can also be understood by the database, as can “nd”, which stands for “no date”. But that’s as far as it goes! If you find that the only date given is “medieval” or “temp Eliz I”, move it to Description and leave the Date column blank. We will sort it out later.

Dates should not have commas, so if the date on the list says “1941, 1943-1946”, move that to Description and put “1941-1946” under Date.

Undeniably, this is a faff. But all your work on this will let researchers search by date using the online catalogue.

  • Take blank spaces out, put forward slashes in

We used to use spaces in our document references all the time, especially if they were separating numbers from letters. However, these blank spaces are meaningless to our cataloguing software, so please replace them with forward slashes. Please also delete the slash between two letters unless you can see a reason for it to be there. So, for example, a document formerly holding the reference D37 M/E 2/1 now appears on the catalogue as D37/ME/2/1. For a fuller explanation of this, see this post.

  • Deal with references to microfilms, microfiche, CDs and DVDs

Always put references to these surrogate versions under Description. If the information is only given once, under the series heading, make sure it is repeated under Description for each item that is being referred to.

  • Delete the end credits

At the very bottom of the list will be some initials, dates and other references – you can get rid of these.

All finished? Thank You! Here’s how to let us have the list back
You can submit your table as an email attachment, to, with FindersKeepers in the subject line.  You can submit several at once if you wish, or if you want to be especially helpful, combine all the information from several lists into a single table.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid clogging up your outbox, use our Google Drive. If you have registered with FindersKeepers, you should have received an automated invitation from Google, allowing you access to a folder called Keepers. If you want to submit lists through Google Drive, please accept the invitation, and follow its instructions – otherwise, you can safely ignore it. Once you have done that, go to and click “shared with me”, then Keepers. Click “upload”, then Files, and finally upload the table to the folder.  We will find them there, and import them into CALM in batches, every few weeks.

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