• Institution in a non-English-speaking country.
  • I do not speak the native language of that country.
  • I studied entirely in English language and all of my educational documents are originally issued/generated in English, therefore there is no possibility of receiving the document of interest in a language other than English (Patricia Shanahan's answer is thus absolutely irrelevant [this answer]).

Types of errors in the transcript of records

  • Grammatical
  • Incorrect course titles
  • Initial letters of some of the course names are capitalized, some are not
  • Margins, line spacing, and the overall format/style of the document (pure chaos, ...)
  • Incorrect usage of the in course titles (e.g. Introduction to the Mathematics)

I have been dealing this issue for more than a year. My BA degree's transcript of records is full of mistakes, not one or two, but dozens of them.

Last year, when I received the transcript for the first six completed semesters, there were so many errors in the document that I simply could not believe some other student might not have noticed it throughout the years. Thus, I went to discuss this with the person issuing the transcript. I delineated all of the mistakes one by one. However, they were absolutely reluctant to modify any part of the transcript at first, and they even went on to tell me that I am wrong. I then decided to provide examples of transcripts issued in the US and use online resources and dictionaries to prove my point, which all in turn made the said person annoyed and yet more reluctant! More surprisingly for me was their reaction when I explained the margins/line-spacing/style/format issues, their simple reply was whether I have ever been diagnosed with OCD.

Nonetheless, I was able to fix quite many of the mistakes. Now, a year later, I have received my final bachelor's degree with the complete transcript of records encompassing eight semesters. And, there are still a lot of mistakes: grammatical, spelling, and incorrect course names. The format of the document looks terribly unprofessional, with different margin sizes on different pages, inconsistent line spacing, and unnecessary white spaces/blank areas. It looks like a cheap document issued by a 'nobody'. If it was not for the huge seal of the university and the Ministry of Education on each page, anyone would have considered this document to be fake.

The person in charge is so selfish they do not want to admit that their English is insufficient. Their lexicon is extremely limited. Once they were so enraged when I mentioned a simple mistake that they actually had to call the English Language Center of my university. However, the center affirmed that indeed the version I have provided is correct and the one written on the transcript is wrong. However, even after that incident the person in charge of issuing the transcript were still reluctant to follow many of my corrections.

How should I deal with the incompetence and reluctance of this person?

Should I create the document neatly myself in LaTeX/Word, clearly highlighting all the changes I have made, and then ask him to consider issuing the document that way?

  • 13
    Wow, this one is really horrible. Noone else can give you this paper ?
    – Gautier C
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 11:48
  • 4
    It's far past the point where this could have been avoided, but maybe you came down a bit too hard on him. Even if (perhaps especially if) he is as incompetent as you say, criticising too much is very likely to make a person go full on defensive, at which point it is hard to convince him to do anything.
    – tomasz
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 11:51
  • 22
    @CGCampbell There is nothing about the question that could not also happen to a graduate student. Also, a properly written bachelor's degree transcript is important material for graduate school applications. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:07
  • 31
    Are these things not automatically generated by computer? Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 16:24
  • 6
    @200_success definitely not a first world problem, you see... Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 17:21

7 Answers 7


I suggest requesting a copy of the transcript in whatever language the issuer writes best.

For some purposes, such as graduate admission to a foreign university, you may need to pay for a certified translation by a professional translator.

  • 5
    Unless it's a verbose transcript (the ones that eschew grades for paragraph+ descriptions of performance), a standard transcript will cost very little to be translated. Also, many universities are willing to handle the translation internally. I've done a few for mine and see emails once in a while asking if anyone knows X language to help out with transcript translation. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:33
  • 3
    @guifa I don't think that's actually generalizable. What if the university asks for a written description of taken classes in addition to the grades themselves? When I was applying for my masters at several German universities, they all asked for a complete description (bonus points: Germany=>you need secondary school transcript as well!), which all ended up costing about 1.5 average monthly salaries in my country.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 18:11
  • Well, as I said, a standard transcript (course name: grade). If there are supplemental materials obviously those would incur additional costs. I would hope in such a situation when applying for admission, for instance, the receiving university would accept an unofficial translation done by the applicant and give approval conditioned on receipt of officially translated documentation. Many programs in the US allow unofficial transcripts during the application process because they know it can cost a student $10-20 per transcript per recipient. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 18:18
  • 1
    Unfortunately, this is absolutely impossible, because the original language of the document is English, i.e. the document is not at all issued/generated in any language other than English. However, this makes me think whether it would be possible to take the document
    – l..
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 18:58
  • 4
    @Bert A non-English country refuses to print the transcript in a non-English language?
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 23:39

It sounds like you're in a non-English speaking country, and I assume that the reason you need an English-language transcript is for use in job or college applications to an English-speaking country. In that case, one reasonable option would be to do nothing and simply use the current transcript. My reasoning is that in an English-speaking country, seeing an official document with grammatical errors coming from a non-English speaking country (especially if it's a country whose people are well-known to not speak very good English) is not likely to surprise or trouble anyone. I personally read many documents written by people from such countries and don't recall ever thinking that the writer of the letter is incompetent or unprofessional because of grammatical errors (though I might think this because of the content of what they write, even when they express themselves in flawless English ;-)...) And, of course, you are not even the author of the transcript! So, if I were you, the only errors I would seriously worry about are either factual errors or grammatical errors that are so bad that they create a risk that some facts will be misunderstood (or not understood) by the reader of your transcript.

With that said, if you are still concerned about the errors posing a danger to you, some additional options I can think of are:

  • Getting a transcript in the language of your country and having a certified translation made (great suggestion by Patricia Shanahan!).

  • Creating a correct English transcript yourself in Word/LaTeX as you were suggesting and attaching it (together with the original transcript) to your applications with a note saying that you have corrected the grammatical errors in your original transcript and include it for the reader's convenience. I would only recommend this if your unofficial corrected transcript doesn't seem to suspiciously "correct" (in a way that may appear dishonest) certain facts that are ambiguous in the original ungrammatical version.

  • Attaching a note to any application you submit that includes your ungrammatical transcript, in which you apologize for the grammatical errors in the transcript and explain that you made a good-faith effort to get the errors corrected and was unsuccessful due to an incompetent service provider at your university. Possibly include a list of clarifications to correct ambiguities or small misstatements arising out of the grammatical errors in the transcript.

  • Finally, there's always the option of continuing to pursue the quixotic quest to get an error-free English transcript from the unprofessional clerk by complaining to their supervisor or to a more senior administrator. It sounds like you've wasted enough time and effort doing that, so I wouldn't recommend it (in particular since I've suggested several other courses of action that seem adequate to address the problem), but only you can decide how important this is to you.

Good luck!

  • 3
    "don't recall ever thinking that the writer of the letter is incompetent or unprofessional" - unless I am misunderstanding the relationship between a student and their transcript, in this case you do not even have any business with the writer. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    @O.R.Mapper indeed, good point! I edited the answer to mention this.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 16:05
  • 1
    On the other hand, formatting errors (margins, line spacing etc.) do look unprofessional, whatever the language.
    – JBentley
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 8:35

Honestly, you need to pick battles that are worth fighting. Inconsistent capitalization of course titles, poor margins and poor line-spacing are not at all significant. Concentrate your energy where it might actually benefit you, such as errors in course names.


I would recommend going to his immediate supervisor. Whether that is the head of student affairs, the department chair or the dean, whoever signs his paycheck should be able to do something about this. In the end, it is the universities reputation and by association theirs. If this is unacceptable to a student who got a degree from there, it should be unacceptable to the people running it.

  • He IS the head of student affairs, there is no one higher than him in rank able to talk English. I actually assume that he signs his own paycheck, seriously, he is the head of many many things. And you have a very good point in the last sentence, and unfortunately that is exactly what I am concerned about.. I mean it is ridiculous that in the document it is mentioned that the language of tuition during the entire 4-year period of my bachelor's studies was English, but then there are all these mistakes in the transcript..How would someone looking at the transcript conclude such a huge paradox?
    – l..
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 12:51
  • 4
    I would say your only option is to take this who would be sympathetic with you. Somebody who deals with foreign universities often. Maybe the head of your department or the dean? Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 13:04
  • 5
    @Bert Why would you not be able to talk to his supervisor in his native language?
    – Myles
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:47
  • @Myles The latest edit to the question says "I do not speak the native language of that country." Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 13:44

My university (non-English speaking country) doesn't issue any document in English. The option is simply not available, and universities in non-English speaking countries do NOT have a duty to issue documents in English.

You can have the original document in its original language translated by a professional translator. In my case, the Embassy of the country where I was applying to recommended a registered translator to me. In the end, I submitted a copy of the original document with its official translation. This kind of translator provides you translated documents with a stamp and a tracking number.

It may cost a little, but especially it would avoid you the hassle of having to deal with administration completely. Just ask them for the transcript in their native language. Accompanied by an official-looking translation, it will look more professional than the kind of document you have got, and this kind of arrangement is widely accepted.

Educated people are aware that English is not the main language at all universities in the world.

  • I don't understand why this was downvoted. It is the most generic/helpful answer in this situation. Note that,in some countries, foreign diplomas have to be "certified" at the other country's embassy in the country you got the diploma. Ex: us diplomas have to be certified in the Brazilian embassy in the us before you try to do anything with it in Brazil. Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 14:26
  • At first, I guess I posted it with too many details (specific countries involved, and the option of having the university check and stamp a personal translation), maybe someone thought of it as too specific and/or did not like the idea of a personal translation? Just guessing. I edited my post after the downvote to make it more generic.
    – biohazard
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 14:40
  • 1
    The "original" language of my documents are English, they are originally written in English, because my programme was completely taught in English, and all the courses have only English names.
    – l..
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:01

Depending on the country, you may be able to take it to court. With your tuition you paid for a certificate, and an English grad course obviously needs an English certificate, not a Pidgin English one. But I wouldn't recommend that approach, it takes time and outcome is unknown.

To get the bureaucrats working, you can take it to the local media. Media usually likes stories such as "administration is incompetent". Some tabloids even have a whole section that assists their readers against the monsters of bureaucracy (and of course reports on these fights). Furthermore, silly season is approaching, I guess they take any story they get.

Then there may be school media. My university has an own student radio broadcast and a student newspaper, and both would be interested in such stories. But then, my English certificate seems to be flawless.


Print it out, take it to your school administration office and show them what needs to be fixed. I've used this myself as I was in a similar situation. As long as you do no alter the grades/gpa, there should be no issues for them to stamp their insignia on a fixed transcript due to typo errors.

I edited this from my previous statement since Ben was right, my original method can be seen as a bit unethical

  • 4
    This is a really bad idea. I would not expect any reputable university's admissions and records department to assent to having students edit their own transcripts.
    – user1482
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 17:55
  • @Ben you're absolutely right. No reputable school/uni would endorse this idea. But when your back is against the wall, you have to do what you have to do. As long as OP doesnt yell and cause a scene, I dont see why OP cant bring in her version and have them cross reference it with the one with errors so that administration can see where OP's frustration is coming from.
    – Tom Park
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 18:06
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    @BenCrowell - it is obvious that this is not a reputable school.
    – Davor
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 16:57
  • Thumbs up for a pragmatic approach.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 13:20

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