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Help and Assistance for using the Electric Scotland site

Electric Scotland is a large site with over 30,000 web pages. It is also a site that has evolved over many years and many changes have been made to the menu system to accommodate all the information we put on the site. So here we provide what we hope will be some helpful information on using the site. We have also prepared a series of small videos to introduce you to parts of the site so if you'd like to view these click here!

Alastair McIntyre has created a series of short videos explaining what you will find in each section of the site.

There are three basic methods of finding information:-

Searching for Information

1. Browsing
At the top of each page of the site you'll find our menu which will lead you to the major sections of the site where we collect material related to the menu description. To demonstrate how deep our menus can go let us say you were looking for information on the Clan MacDonald. 

Click on Clans and this will take you to our section entitled "Scottish and Irish Clans & Families". Looking down that page you will see a link Histories of Official Clans and if you click on that it will take you to a page which lists all the official clans.  Looking down that list you will find MacDonald. When you click on that link you will be taken to the index page of the Clan MacDonald. Why another index page?  Well on that index page we provide links to the Clan History and other useful synergy links but also to any Clan MacDonald web sites elsewhere on the web. In this case if you click on Clan History you will find another index page <gulp>.  In this case it is because we have so much information on the clan that it really needs to be broken down into sections as there are various branches of the clan. So before you can get to read the actual history you will have gone through 5 menus to get there.

Essentially as we are such a large site we really have no alternative but to create a larger layer of menus to guide you to all the material we carry. We have in fact received a very high rating for our site navigation from respondents to our annual questionnaires so hopefully this means most of you will have no problems in finding what you are after.

The problem about browsing is simply that it might not be obvious where to look for an item you are interested in.  For example, you might want to know if we have any information on Scots words as you are going to a Burns supper and want to try and understand some of the words of a poem. Rather than guess where to look you would be better using either of our two site search engines and I'll now tell you how to use them.


3. Google Site Search Engine
As many of you will use Google for your web searching you will be pleased to note that Electric Scotland also has a Google site search engine. This search engine is now in the header of our site so can be accessed on any page. You'll note that it defaults t searching our site but if you wish to use it to search the web then simply check to web option and it will then search the web instead of just our site.


Searching for a Name
Many visitors arrive on Electric Scotland looking for information on a Scottish or Irish name and also want to see if there is a clan affiliation with it.  Can I just say here that spelling of names can be a bit of a nightmare but do at least start by using our site search for the name.  Should you not be able to find anything then consider some options.

You should be aware that many Highlanders that emigrated to America were Gaelic speaking and hence spelling of their names was often incorrect. This has led to a whole variety of spellings so be prepared to check any alternatives you can think of.  Try saying the name out loud and imagine any other ways of spelling the name:-

If a name is not found look under other possible spelling variations such as "Lezly" as "Leslie" or "Montgomerie" for "Montgomery". "Gil" may have been "il" or "el" " Mc " and " M' " are simple abbreviations for "Mac". A name that once began with "n" may now begin with "r" and the final "c" of "Mac" may have been duplicated into a second "c" or a "k" (MacOmber-MacComber; MacIntosh-Mackintosh).

Since Gaelic requires sound changes when "Mac" is prefixed, try pronouncing the new name aloud substituting a new first letter on the second part of the name, and you may hear the original...

"b" or "m" for a "v" MacVean to MacBean, MacVickle to MacMichael.
"p" for an "f" MacFall to MacPaul
"d" for "g" or "t" MacGonell to MacDonell, MacLout to MacLeod

Gaelic "f" becomes silent after "Mac"; try reinserting it - MacLetcher to MacFletcher.

Note that the most populous two-thirds of Scotland were under the Anglo-Norman feudal, not the clan, system. The majority of Scots were not "Highlanders" nor Gaelic speakers and did not historically wear tartan. I say this because many visitors are looking for clan affiliations but although your name may be Scottish it need not be associated with a clan. [See Clans, Families and Septs for an explanation]

We do try to default to Mac for names that start with that prefix but you will find references to other spellings of Mc and M' under a number of our historical documents so do try these other spellings as well. Note that these spellings are simply abbreviations of Mac and do note denote anything else such as Scots-Irish descent.


We get many queries on whether your name has a tartan assigned to it.  We provide through the House of Tartan and the Scottish Tartan Society several search engines to help you locate that tartan. The page can be located by clicking on Tartans in our main menu.

House of Tartan provides three search facilities and the first one you'll see is where you simply need to enter your name or the first four characters of the name and it will try and find it.  You can also use the drop down menu under the search box to select variations of the tartan.

The second search facility is where you simply click on the first letter of the name and it will bring up a page with all the tartans listed under the letter.  So if you were a Drummond simply clock on the letter D and it will list every tartan starting with that letter.

The third search facility lets you view all the tartans for your name but also gives you the opportunity to view products in your tartan that you can purchase online.

Toward the foot of the page you will also find the search engine of the Scottish Tartans Society and again you simply need to enter your name to find your tartan. The results page will list all the tartans its found and you simply click the link to view the tartan. This search engine also provides a thread count.


For those doing extensive genealogical research you are always advised to use our site search engine as that will reveal any information that we have on the site. Like the Clan MacDonald search we did above you will notice it found over 750 pages with that name.  As we publish lots of historical books, documents, articles and biographies on the site a name may well be mentioned in them that will provide you with further information.

While this is a history site we have done our best to collect information that may be useful to those starting out on searching for their family roots. Over the years visitors have contributed various articles or pointed out good resources and we've gathered them all together under our Genealogy page which is located on our main menu. You should also read the many articles in the Family Tree part of the site as the Family Tree is the largest genealogical publication in the world!

You can also make use of our FREE Family Tree software by visiting our web site.


Appreciating History
We have many books on the site which detail histories over various time frames. You can in fact get an appreciation of what Scotland was like at a particular time by referring to these texts. For example, if you were reading about your clan and found an interesting period between 1600-1625 then you might like to read our Domestic Annals of Scotland for that time period as it will give you a good idea of what was going on domestically during that period and might help to explain why certain events happened.

Some of our online books are quite extensive and you can see a list of those books under our Books section by clicking on the Books link in our menu. When you arrive at that page click on the link Read Books Online. You will then be presented with a list of all the books we have added to the site for you to read.


What content we carry
You'll already know that we carry a huge amount of history on Scotland, Scots and people of Scots descent.  What you might not know is that we also carry a major collection of poems and stories from not only famous poets and authors but also ordinary, or perhaps not so ordinary, folk out there in the big wide world who are kind enough to share their own work with us. We also have huge collections from a couple of individuals like Donna Flood who writes poems, stories, articles, genealogy picture books and lots more. Margo Fallis has supplied us with hundreds of children's stories. Jeanette Simpson has written some marvellous articles on subjects such as learning about tea to contributing lots of ideas on making presents for friends and relatives to cooking and crafts for Kids. Francis Kerr Young with his range of poems and stories and Peter Logue with his short stories and lots of others. Our Kids section holds colouring books, jigsaws, games and lots more. The Family Tree brings you loads of genealogy information as well as bringing you news from the various clan societies around the world. The Flag is a publication of the Scots Independent Newspaper and while bringing you a weekly newsletter of political matters in Scotland also provides a fabulous resource of real audio recordings in the Scots language of poems and stories and special tributes to Tartan Day and other events as well as a great collection of Scottish songs, recipes and Scots humour (wit). We have a collection of Scots Humour, our own Food and Drink section and even a wee Gardening section. We devote a section to the Bible with various helpful areas within that. We even carry a Calendar where you can find lists of events in Scotland and also around the world.


What's New
Should you be a regular visitor to the site then by clicking on the What's New menu link you will get a page where we add details of what we add to the site each day.  We'd certainly advise that you login each week just to see what's new but you can also subscribe to our FREE weekly e-mail newsletter and we'll send you an update each week. You can get to our subscription form for this by clicking on Newsletter in our menu where you can also read old copies of the newsletter.


We get many requests for adding special events to our site such as Highland Games, Scottish Festivals and other What's On in Scotland. To help with things such as this we added a calendar for both the Family Tree and the Scots Independent Newspaper. You can reach these calendars through our Lifestyle menu which is really a catch all section for areas of the site that don't readily fit into any other section. Click on View our Scottish Events Calendar link to reach the menus. This graphical link is also available on our index page. The Scots Independent carry events domestic to Scotland whereas the Family Tree carry events of an International nature such as Highland Games in the USA or Canada.


How to submit articles and family genealogy
We accept historical articles and family account of individuals and families and there are a number of ways to submit information...

We have a Mini Bios section of the site reached through our Clans menu where you can use our form to submit an account or indeed you can email the account to us. Should you wish to include pictures with the account then you would need to email Alastair (see his contact email address below).

You may also submit historical articles, recipes, stories or anything that you think would contribute to Electric Scotland and our visitors. You may use our Feedback form or email your contribution to Alastair. Please note that we only use PC's here with the Windows operating system so when you send contributions please ensure you use appropriate ways to send us the information.  Should you be sending a large article or wish to send us a series of articles it might be best to send a short submission and we can get back to you to let you know if we were able to read it ok.

We have a special Add Url page where we provide further assistance on how to add information to Electric Scotland.

We have also launched a site where you can add your own family tree and add notes and pictures to it.


Printer Friendly

It is worth noting that due to the dimensions of our site some pages may not print out all on one sheet of paper and of course some of the right side of the page may be missing.  To help you print out pages properly we have a "Printer Friendly" Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page icon on all pages in our left border. By clicking on this you will be taken to a page that strips out our top, left and bottom borders which should allow you to print the pages properly. In the event this doesn't work for you then we'd suggest setting your printer up to print in Landscape mode instead of Portrait.

Those of you that have the Norton Security product with the firewall enabled won't be able to use this facility.  However if you first go to your Internet browser security and make a trusted site and then go to your Norton Firewall product and tell it to let come through then all should work fine.  Note that after having done this you may need to clear your browser cache to get everything to work properly. At this time only the Norton product with the firewall software is know to cause problems. Should you still have problems then contact the Norton/Symantec tech support people and ask for assistance.


You should note that we have thousands of pictures throughout the site.  The vast majority of the pictures are thumbnailed to a smaller size for faster loading of the page.  Where you see a faint blue line around the picture then that will be a thumbnail image. Simply click on the picture to see a larger version. Note also that some browsers will reduce the image if you can't see it all on the screen. In this case a graphic will normally appear on the bottom right corner of the picture which means if you click on that you will see the picture at its true size.

Also note that some browsers such as AOL default your graphics to low resolution to make the pictures load quicker. Problem is that you will not see the true quality of the picture as it may be reduced to 16 colours. Check your browsers default settings for displaying graphics if you suspect you are not seeing a high quality picture.


Contacting Us
There are various ways to contact us or our contributors. Firstly, the Contact Us menu will give you lots of background on Electric Scotland as well as providing contact information for ourselves and our major contributors, The Family Tree and the Scots Independent Newspaper.  Should you wish to make suggestions or ask questions you can also use our Feedback form again reached through our main menu. Finally, many of our articles come from visitors to the site and where possible we include their email address along with their article or where they contribute several articles we may include it on an index page that we've created for them. Check at the bottom of the page to see if we provide a link back to an index page. (For example at the foot of this page we provide a link to return you to our home page) You can also email Alastair McIntyre (the owner of the site) at Alastair McIntyre


Tips on Spelling
As this site publishes antiquarian books from a whole variety of sources you will find spelling of words in old Scots, modern Scots, UK English, American English and other varieties. This is not to say that we don't have spelling mistakes on the site but as you can see due to the many sources and contributors we have spelling is a problem depending on where you are based. We also OCR many books onto the site and while every care is taken to proof each page we will miss words. The main purpose of the site is to make available antiquarian books that are often difficult to find or are in rare book collections at libraries.


Scotch and Scots
We get a number of emails in telling us that it's Scots when referring to people and Scotch when referring to whisky. Today this is perfectly correct but in the olden days it was not and as we are dealing with antiquarian books you will find Scotch often used when referring to the people.  The word whisky is a more modern term when referring to the drink.


Symantec / Norton Security Products
We'd like to say our main recommendation is to delete it as it causes untold problems. The anti-virus product works well but if you use the Security product with the firewall or their anti-spam product then you'll have problems with the site. For example you will be unable to use our Printer Friendly script and you'll likely not be able to use our antiquarian book search engine as their products hide this from you as it thinks this is an advert and thus blocks it from your view. Any graphics on the site that just happen to match the size of standard adverts are also blocked even if they are not adverts. We'd like to offer advice on how to get around these problems but we feel that as Symantec causes these problems they should be the one to give you support on how to get around them.


Helping Electric Scotland
What we do is find antiquarian books that explains various aspects of the history of Scotland, the Scots and people and places of Scots descent. This means that not only do we constantly look for good antiquarian books but we also constantly work on scanning the pages or ocr'ing them to put them on the site for everyone to read. 

You can help by helping us find books about Scots anywhere in the world that are usually over 75 years old. Copyright is different in various countries of the world but usually at worst this means the book is "out of copyright" 75 years after the authors death. One major American publisher actually says on their web site that if the book is 75 years old then don't bother to contact them as you can use it anyway you want.

We do purchase such books but obviously the price has to be commensurate with the quality of content of the book. So if you spot a book that looks to be well worth the price and explains aspects of the Scots that we don't already cover on the site then feel free to contact us and let us know something of the book and how we might go about purchasing it.  Of course if you would like to purchase it for us and donate it to the site that would also be most helpful :-) We most often pick up books from antiquarian and second hand books shops but we've also discovered the odd gem in a boot or garage sale or even at a Highland Games.

Should you have time on your hands and are good at the keyboard you might volunteer to either scan in or type in a book for us. At time of writing this we are working on 9 books some of which are three and six volumes. We also have 21 books that we are still to start on.  So perhaps you can see that this is all very time consuming and so helping us with this work would be most appreciated.

Be aware however that once started you do need to keep working on it. If for some reason you decide that it is just too much work then we'd appreciate you telling us that and returning the book to us. There is no harm in admitting defeat :-) And it is certainly a lot of work publishing a book for the site so don't be too eager to get started until you have a good think about how much time you might need to devote. Some books that have been put up for us have taken 2 years to complete.

We're also keen on getting books about Scots settlers anywhere in the world and the more detailed the account the better. Should you have an account in your family of your families own experiences we'd love to get an article in from you. We have no restrictions on size of articles and you can also send in pictures to go along with it.


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