View Full Version : How to find missing letters in a word

03-02-2003, 10:29 AM
I am transcribing some old hand-writter documents onto a pc. Some of the writing is difficult to understand the odd word.

Can anyone suggest a (free) utillity where I can enter the letters I can and it will give suggestions to complete the word?


03-02-2003, 11:09 AM
There a dozens of sites such as these (http://www.ojohaven.com/fun/crossword.html) that should help.

Billy T
03-02-2003, 11:17 AM

I don't know about freeware sources, but a crossword solving program might help, or perhaps one of the cheap electronic dictionaries which I think can offer options from a few letters and spaces.

Alternatively, try your best from the context of the sentence then allow the spelling and grammar options in your WP to make suggestions.

IMHO, context is everything in this situation and a utility that can offer options from a few letters here and there will still leave you with the job of choosing which one fits the context of the original text.


Billy 8-{)

Robin S_
03-02-2003, 12:49 PM
A quick way of doing this would be to type in the letters you can decipher and put in, say, a's or x's for the letters you can't. Assuming you are using a word processor, run a spell check - this will pick up the garbled words and offer alternatives.

03-02-2003, 03:58 PM
Within limits, Microsoft Word is good at this :-)

Just type the word with single asterisks in place of the missing letters or clumps of letters, eg c*ssr*ds. Word will naturally flag it as a misspelling and will suggest at least the first six or seven words that fit the template. In this case, it reckons there's only one, "crossroads", but c*ssr*s yields crossroads, crossroad's, classrooms, classroom's, and the rather obscure "crossruffs".

The snag is that since two or three versions back, this only works if your unclear letters are in the middle of the word. About that time, MS cottoned onto the internet and the way things were *emphasised* in email, so now when you do * at beginning or end of word, or fragment of word, it simply deletes the asterisks and bolds the portion between.

I used to be able to type *abc* (old "brain teaser") and get "dabchick, dabchicks." Then they spoiled it :-(

Still good for missing medial letters, tho', as long as there are not too many possibilities for it to list in that small panel.

But I'm sure the special-purpose tools recommended by others are better


03-02-2003, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the suggestions folks.

The documents I am transcribing are 150-year-old farm diarys.

Words such as 'fasciene' are miss-spelt as foscean and fasciene.

Also 'experting'. Me being a 'townie' and not familiar with such words is no help either.


Robin S_
03-02-2003, 07:32 PM
Fascinating! I suspect you made a typo with fascine. FYI I would guess that the word is used in the context of draining - a fascine drain is made by digging a trench then putting bundles of long, thin sticks in the bottom and filling it in. Initially water can percolate through the sticks, but eventually they rot away and leave a small underground tunnel where they were, through which the water can continue to flow.

Billy T
03-02-2003, 11:06 PM
One method I use for odd words when I know the general context is to do a search in Google. In your example, the search would be fascine +farming.

This brings up a number of context-related meanings which can help confirm your spelling. Remember too that 150 years ago spelling was quite flexible so a good context match may be more accurate than correct spelling but a wrong meaning.


Billy 8-{) :D

Graham L
04-02-2003, 02:57 PM
From what I see, spelling is quite flexible these days. :D Or people don't care. :_| I can't believe that they are that ignorant. :O

04-02-2003, 03:28 PM
Suggest try http://www.puzzlex.co.uk
The free sample handles up to 8 letters and the registered copy 30 letters. It has a variety of methods and a massive dictionary.