07 February 2011

Top 10 genealogy writing tips

How do you turn your genealogical research into something that people want to read? Try these suggestions:
  • Read the top genealogical journals. Besides the articles, check the book reviews to see what the reviewers consider to be well-done genealogies and follow their suggestions for your own article or book.  
  • Use standard numbering systems, such as the Register System (NEHGS), the NGS Quarterly Numbering System, the Henry System, and the Sosa Stradonitz System for genealogies.
  • Develop an interesting story, not just a list of begats. Include transcriptions of family letters, journals, Bibles, and other recordsif you have them. If not, read histories of the time and place so you can create a setting for your people. 
  • Use photographs (with captions and whereabouts of originals) of people, places, and things. Use maps or other graphics to illustrate a story, such as migration patterns or land holdings.
  • Protect information about the living. You should not give out personal information and vital statistics. Beware of sharing skeletons in the closet, especially if they may hurt, offend, upset, shock, or embarrass your family members.
  • Have an editor edit and proofread your work carefully. Double-check all your facts and citations.
  • Know how copyright affects your publication.
  • Create a complete index of people and place names. 
There are lots of books for would-be writers, including a bunch specifically for genealogists and family historians.


  1. Great ideas and links for better writing. I've been blogging for a very short while. I love to write especially about genealogy and my family history.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

    1. Jim, writing is one of the best ways to share your genealogy stories. Thanks for your comment.