- Latin may be used.
- The style of writing may be unfamiliar.
- The ink may have faded or even dropped off the page.
- The pages may be stained with mould.
- The spelling used is, shall we say, 'quaint'.
- Numbers may be written in Roman Numerals.
- Months may be partly written in Roman Numerals. E.g. October may be written VIIIber, (it was the eighth month by the old calendar).
- Punctuation was not very good and often omitted altogether.
- Unlike today, a capital letter was often used mid-sentence to emphasis any word, felt important.
- Three different types of abbreviations were in common use.
- Some expressions were used with which you might not be familiar.
All of these factors make reading early writing a challenge to the amateur genealogist.
A useful site with tutorials on reading old documents is that at the UK National Archives