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Research Recommendations: Genealogical Writing: Essential Resources for Writing and Editing

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Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

As you know, I spend a great deal of time writing and editing. The Weekly Genealogist alone has thousands of words in each issue that must be reviewed and put together, not to mention articles for the Register, American Ancestors magazine, NEHGS and Newbury Street Press books, etc. There are five books on the shelf next to my desk that I turn to time and again for assistance. I present them in alphabetical order, not in order of importance, as I check each one regularly.


The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)
The largest and best resource for all aspects of writing. CMS is used throughout the publications department as our editorial gold standard.


Amy Einsohn. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, Second Edition (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 2005)

This work has taught me a great deal about proper editing of manuscripts. In addition to the instructive text, there are exercises with answer keys to help you understand how to properly edit.


Michael J. Leclerc and Henry B. Hoff. Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, Second Edition (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011)
Although it might appear to be self-serving, I really do use this book a great deal, especially when I am showing people how to use Microsoft Word for writing. That chapter, written by Alvy Ray Smith, is worth the entire book. I also constantly reference the appendices with abbreviations and symbols commonly used in genealogy.


Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007)
This book by one of the leading experts in the field of genealogy is incredibly useful. With the wide variety of materials available to us as resources, this example-filled tome can help you determine the proper way to cite almost anything you would use in your research.


Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1995)

Despite the resources available electronically, I often want to know what this classic reference will tell me about a word and how I might otherwise express the sentiment.

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