. How do you cite your sources? I know how to fill out a family tree chart, but I don't know how to cite the information. A
. "Source citation" can sound like a technical term, but it’s really just recording where you found each record or piece of genealogical information—that way you or anyone else can go back to recheck the original record.
Different sources are cited different ways. For books, record the title, author, publisher (with the location), year of publication, where you found the book (the name of the library or the person who lent it to you), library call number (if it came from a library) and page numbers containing the referenced information, like so:
Carmack, Sharon Debartolo and Erin Nevius, eds., The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2004), 219-220.
For examples of citations for a variety of sources, such as census records, vital records and oral history interviews, download our Source Citation Cheat Sheet
as a PDF. This citation Web tool
will automatically format various types of citations based on what you type in about the source.
ProGenealogists also has a guide to citing online sources
, including databases such as those on Ancestry.com
Where and when to cite your sources is another important issue. As JustJean says in the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum
, include a full citation on the front side of every photocopied record or page from a book, so the citation won't get separated from the data.
Most genealogy software lets you type in source details or even link a digitized record when you add information to your tree. If you’re using paper, you can number all your photocopied records and add the numbers to your family group sheets. For example, if Grandma’s birth certificate is record number 17 in your files, you’d write 17
next to her birthdate on a family group sheet. (Most don’t note sources on a five-generation ancestor chart.)
You also might keep a log of the sources you’ve found and what pertinent information they contain.
For an in-depth look at source citation, see Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace
by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Co., $49.95).
Readers, click Comments to add your own source citation advice.