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  • Register Style Template

    Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG
    Download the Template!

    Register style or format or variants of it are widely used for genealogical journals and full-scale books. An editor looking over an article submitted for possible publication will be favorably impressed and will follow your text more easily when the material is presented in Register format.

    This document does not provide a full explanation of all the nuances of Register style. For that the NEHGS publication Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century[1] is a good text. But many authors find it difficult to use the currently preferred program, Microsoft Word.[2] In particular, the subtext (paragraphs for children and grandchildren) and footnotes seem to present difficulty.

    This file, while not technically a template according to Microsoft Word, can serve as one. It contains all the “styles” we are currently using in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. In order to use it, first save it as “Register template.” Then select the whole text (at the very top of the document, hit F8 and then Ctrl-End or on the Edit menu “Select All”), delete it, and save the file under a new name, such as “blank template.” Do not save the blank file without renaming it or you will lose the text in this document. When you want to use the blank file as a template, type the first few words, the title perhaps, and then save it under a third name, the name you will use for your new document.

    Using Styles
    “Styles” is a term used in Microsoft Word. It has a different meaning from the ordinary usage when we talk about Register “style.” In Word, each paragraph can be automatically formatted using an appropriate style. For example, this paragraph is in “normal” style. If you go to the Format menu and click on “Style” you will see the word “normal” highlighted in a window. In the same dialog box, under “Description,” you will find a little list describing the “normal” style. If you move to other styles on the list you will see different descriptions.

    Now we are in what we call “body text indent.” This paragraph automatically has the first line indented. If you try to indent a “normal” style paragraph, it may not be stable. You may keep losing the indents. You will find various useful styles. Put your cursor on the title above. Then go to the format menu and see what style it is. Try the same thing on the author’s name and on the heading of this section. You should make sure there is a little window on your toolbar that shows the style you are working in. When you are writing and want to change to a different style, either select the text or put your cursor in the paragraph you want to change (or at the beginning of the paragraph you want to create) and click on the little down arrow next to that little window on your toolbar or open the “Styles” dialog box. You can move up and down and select the various styles.

    Writing a family sketch using styles

    1. Somebody’s name, usually in small caps, sometimes in boldface type, typically begins a family sketch. We start out in normal style in the first paragraph. The vital data for a person and his/her spouse appears in this paragraph.

    Then subsequent paragraphs are indented. Here is where you compile the biography, narrative, family history, whatever you want, about the person and spouse.

    You may want to set off some material as a direct quotation. Don’t use quotation marks. Just space before and after the material. Using the “quotation” style will automatically indent the material on both sides. The font is a bit smaller.

    Now we’re back in body text indent. You will probably close your narrative with information about the person’s probate or perhaps a little discussion of why you have included or omitted certain of the children.

    Then, when it’s time to list the children, we use a “kids intro” [Thanks to David Dearborn for naming these styles!]:

             i.   Some comments are listed here in “kids” style. Note that the point size is smaller.

            ii.   Note also that the Roman numerals are automatically set on a “right tab.” Hit the tab key, type the numeral, hit tab again and start typing the name of the child.

           iii.   Notice that that last paragraph, when the words wrapped, automatically hung the next line at a slight indent. Sometimes, there’s quite a bit of text for a particular child.

    So you can start a new paragraph by using “kid more text” style. However, if the text is quite long, even if that child didn’t have any descendants, it might be better to give that child his own section.

    2    iv.   Notice that the Register number for a child that is to be continued below is at the margin, before the first tab.

     1.  Here’s a “Grandkid”!

     2.  And another. For some reason it’s set up so we don’t have to bother with tabs before the number.

     3.  There’s a style in this file for great-grandchildren, but that gets unwieldy. It’s usually better to continue the child in a section of his or her own.

     3     v.   What about footnotes?[3] They should be automatically formatted in “footnote text” style. See below for a couple of simple macros that make it easy to work with footnotes (or endnotes).

           vi.   You will find a few other styles in this document that you might like to use.

    Two little helpful macros
    1. To create a footnote you can go to the Insert menu, click on “Footnote” and then on “OK.” You can do that on the keyboard, but you’re more likely to take your hands off it and use the mouse. However, you can create a little macro that takes only one keystroke to create a footnote:

            a.   Go to the tools menu.

            b.   Click on “macro.”

            c.   Click on “record new macro.”

            d.   Give it a name; “footnote” or “note” would be good.

            e.   Click on “keyboard.”

            f.   Tell it a shortcut key. “Alt-N” should work (make sure it’s unassigned).

            g.   Click on “assign,” then on “close.”

            h.   Now you are running the macro. Go to the Insert menu and create a footnote by using the Insert menu as described above.

             i.   Click on the little square in the box that says “Stop. 

             j.   When you want to create another footnote, just hit “Alt-N.”

     2. To put brackets around a footnote reference number, follow the above procedure. You can label it “Alt-B” if you like. Place your cursor just before an existing footnote number. Start a macro as above, beginning with the tools menu. When you have the little box saying “Stop” that shows you are running the macro

            a.   Type “Ctrl-+” (hold down both shift and control and type the + sign key to move to superscript mode)

            b.   Type the opening bracket.

            c.   Hit the right arrow once (the cursor will jump over the whole footnote number).

            d.   Type the closing bracket.

            e.   Type “Ctrl-+” again to go back to the regular text level.

            f.   Click on the little square in the “Stop” box.

    Incidentally, you don’t have to assign an “Alt” key for the macro. You can just give it a very short name, like “fn” for footnote. When you want to use it, hit Alt-F8, type the name of the macro and hit “Enter.” (That’s four keystrokes, but it’s faster than going to the Insert menu with the mouse.) You can make macros that will do all sorts of things, like fill in a series of words or insert a special character like £. For example, a macro called “nehgr” or “reg” can produce “The New England Historical and Genealogical Register.”

    It will take a bit of practice to become comfortable with these concepts. You may need to reread this several times. You can modify the styles to suit yourself. Be creative with your macros. Have fun!

    Download the Template!

    1Michael J. Leclerc and Henry B. Hoff, ed.,, 2nd ed. (Boston: NEHGS, 2006).
    This document is being written with Microsoft Word 2000. The instructions here may need to be adapted slightly for other releases.
    Microsoft Word seems to make it impossible to use full-size numbers for the footnotes themselves. As you see, the Register uses little brackets around the footnote reference to distinguish it from generation numbers. If you use true automatic footnotes as we show you here, you can use the brackets, but you should probably leave them off for other editors.




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