Genealogy Resolutions: Citing Your Sources

Note: This post is part of a series of blog posts about making 2011 the best genealogy year possible.  If you have any topics you’d like to see covered, please feel free to email me.

Realtors use the phrase “Location, Location, Location”.  Genealogists should use the phrase “Sources, Sources, Sources”.

Why Cite Your Sources?

  • Keep Track of Where You Got Information. The bottom line is that you cannot remember every place that you got every piece of information – especially when you have conflicting information!  Therefore, cite your sources!
  • Help Others Follow Your Research. When you cite a source, the goal should be that someone else can find that source document based on your citation.  Even if you are not going to be formally publishing your genealogy in a book, you should still cite your sources.  Why?  For one thing, it adds to your credibility as a researcher.  If your research will be on the internet (most people have their research SOMEWHERE on the web), then you should add source citations so the genealogists that stumble upon your work can follow your research.  Even if you aren’t putting any of your research on the web, imagine for a moment that one of your descendants finds your research in a box.  Then imagine your descendant becoming interested in continuing that research (Nice picture, huh?).  Wouldn’t you want them to be able to see where you got your information from?


  • Source: The record from which you got the information.
  • Citation: The link that joins your source to the conclusion.  A citation can be displayed in a bibliography, end notes, footnotes, or even embedded in parentheses within the text.

How to Cite Your Sources:

Homework (Yes, there is homework):

Enter 5 proper source citations into your genealogy database.

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One response to “Genealogy Resolutions: Citing Your Sources

  1. Another reason for citing sources is so that the reader can evaluate the source, the information it contains and the evidence as it relates to the question at hand.
    Michelle Goodrum´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday – Desert Botanical Gardens Luminarias

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