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Genealogical Writing: Checking Your Notes

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Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

As genealogists, we all know how important it is to use proper source citations for every statement of fact that is not generally known. Footnotes are the preferred method of citing sources because the information appears on the same page as the fact, and does not require paging back and forth to endnotes. Short citations are the proper way of citing a single work multiple times.


In my book on the Franklin family, all references use short citations. A bibliography in the back of the book provides the full publication information. Each entry in the bibliography is numbered, and the source citations in the body of the text cross-reference to the numbers in the bibliography. Because there are literally thousands of citations, I chose to renumber footnotes with every chapter.


Prior to publication, it is important to copyedit and proof all of your notes. As you are reading through the text you should review a note whenever you find the footnote indicator. Read through and make certain that this is the correct citation for that fact. Correct any obvious typographical errors or logic errors (such as a citation to a page range of 62–43).


Next you should review the bibliography. Scan through to ensure that all entries are in alphabetical order. Again correct any typographical errors, and query any that you need to double-check.


Once you have made all of your corrections, review the manuscript again to ensure that you did not accidentally omit any changes.

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