1. Decide on a format.
2. Consider columns.
Think about your research and plan out the columns you’ll want in your research log. It’s better to start with too-specific columns you can combine or delete later than to be months into your log and realize you should’ve been recording a particular bit of data all along. Here’s what I suggest recording for each research log entry:
- Date entered: Note the date you enter the item into your to-do list.
- Given name: Record the first and middle name of the person who’s the subject of this entry.
- Surname: Enter the relative’s surname (include a woman’s maiden and married names in case she used one or the other in the record you’re seeking).
- Record or resource: Enter the title, date and other details for the resource you’re seeking.
- Information sought: Note what you’re looking for.
- Repository/Website: Record the archive or website you need to visit to complete the task. Include contact information such as URLs and phone numbers.
- Date completed: Leave this column blank until you check the item off your to-do list.
- Outcome: Note whether your search was successful and what you discovered once you complete the item.
- Source citation: Compose a source citation you can copy and paste into your genealogy software once you consult the resource.
- Source number: If you number your sources according to a filing system, you can enter that number here.
- Notes: Add any other helpful information about the person, repository or record.
3. Create a new document.
4. Share if you want to.
5. Set up your log.
6. Maintain your log.
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