Two switch stairway light wiring question

A rental property of mine has a stairway with a light controlled by a switch at the top & a switch at the bottom. Either switch will turn the light on or off, independent of the other switch. A few weeks back, an assistant of mine removed one of the switches to do some drywall repair, unfortunately not noting how the wires were attached. Each switch was 3 wires, the one at the bottom has a red, a white & a black wire. On this switch, the red wire goes to the common terminal (this switch was not disturbed & the setup did work previously). The switch at the top has 2 black & one white wire. I tried connecting the top switch so that the white wire is common, this way I can turn on the light with the top switch regardless of the bottom switch's position, and I can turn the light on & off with the bottom switch if the light is left on at the top, but I cannot turn the light on with the bottom switch if the top on is off. So I'm wondering how I can determine the connections for the top switch. There must be a way to do this with a volt meter. Suggestions?
TIA
Dan
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sw1 sw2 __/ --------------------------\_____ red&black (hot)-->lamp --------------------------
--------------------------------------------- white (neutral)-->lamp
The common screw is a darker color than the other two. The common terminal screw is either black or copper-colored to distinguish it from the other two silver or brass-colored screws. The green wire is always attached to the metal switch housing screw (or metal box) for ground.
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Thanks, the switches were marked as to the common terminal, that wans't the confusion, I just wasn't sure which wire went were. Ended up switching 2 of the wires around & it's fine.
Dan

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http://www.homewiringandmore.com/switchoutlet/3way/3way.html
Tony D.

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Thanks for the informative replies.
Dan

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You might also find something useful at
http://www.wfu.edu/~matthews/courses/p230/switches.html
including especially
http://www.wfu.edu/~matthews/misc/switches/confused3way.html
Rick
Anthony Diodati wrote:

--
Rick Matthews snipped-for-privacy@wfu.edu
Department of Physics http://www.wfu.edu/~matthews
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White can be used as a switch leg or power in residential... Nice to know huh. It really depends on how the guy wired it. I would have used black and white as travelers and black for the switch leg. Try looking into the box and see which pair of wires are together. Chances are they are the travelers. The wire alone will be the switch leg, or common, or on the dark screw. Hope this helps.
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