Simple Tips for Solid Genealogy Source Citations

By Diane Haddad

This guest post on simplifying source citations is from Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton, one of the expert instructors for our Virtual Genealogy Conference, happening Feb. 22-24:

I know great genealogists who never share their research because they’re scared of source citations. They dread going back through their files to identify exactly where they learned a birth date or the name of Granddad’s church. They worry they didn’t copy down every little piece of publication information, like a volume number or editor’s name. And formatting footnotes sounds exactly NOT like the way they want to celebrate finding their family.

My presentation “Simple Tips for Solid Source Citations” focuses on a process of managing sources all the way through the research process to prevent most of those fears. What I’ll show you is a way of thinking that makes us better researchers: more aware of our sources from the get-go, more organized and more confident in our conclusions.

First, I’ll talk you through the process of evaluating sources the first time you use them. I’ll talk about what information to gather, both from the source and about the source.

One valuable tip I share is how to find full source information on websites like, and some less user-friendly data sites. You’ll see different ways of capturing source data, whether you’re a paper-based person or a paperless person (or a combination). I’ll show you how to store source data in a way that links it to the information you found in it, so you don’t scramble years later to put the two together.

Finally, I’ll talk about options when you’re ready to write—yes, we’ll talk a bit about footnotes and Why They Are Not So Scary.

By the end, you’ll know how to handle sources well and, better yet, you’ll want to! Don’t miss out on learning this core skill during the Virtual Genealogy Conference.

I love the idea of managing sources from the start—so you can evaluate how reliable the information is, easily create a source citation and keep that citation with the data you found. I’m looking forward to Sunny’s video class!

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by