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Linguists have long recognized the descriptive limitations of Stokoe notation, currently the most commonly used system for phonetic or phonological transcription, but continue using it because of its widespread influence (e.g., Siedlecki and Bonvillian 2000). With the emergence of newer notation systems, the field will benefit from a discussion and evaluation of the notation systems. It is necessary to understand the outcomes of choosing one notational system or another for representation of signed language since such a choice has lasting effect on the understanding of patterns in signed languages. In this article, I outline and examine four notation systems (Stokoe notation, Hamburg Notation System, Prosodic Model Handshape Coding and Sign Language Phonetic Annotation) used to represent hand configurations in studies of child acquisition of signed languages from the perspective of design principles of transcription, generally focusing on human and machine readability, but more specifically specificity, category design, transparency, economy, conventionality, and familiarity.