How to Add Genealogy Research Notes in a Book?

When writing a family history, you want to include a list of your citations. Have you ever consider how to best include your research notes in your published genealogy books?


Before we tackle how to incorporate research notes into a family history book, let's discuss the forms researchers notes take.

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What is the purpose of a genealogy research log?


While developing my genealogy research skills, I often said, “why do I need a research log?”


According to Family Tree Magazine,a genealogy research logs help you keep track of your citations and information, including your thoughts and theories.” A genealogy research log serves you best when you are gathering information


Additionally, genealogy research logs funnel into other assets such as:

  1. client reports

  2. journal articles

  3. register style family histories

  4. biographical sketches

  5. narrative stories

  6. cited group sheets and pedigree charts

In this video, I discuss why you don’t need genealogy research logs in modern genealogy. (Watch Now)


However, if you do have genealogy research logs, should you publish your chart of notes in a genealogy book?


Should you publish your genealogy research log in a family history book?


No. You should not publish a genealogy research log in a book. Research logs are tools exclusively for your use, not for publication.


Would you ever publish an outline for a book?


Although the table of contents often resembles and outline, the answer is no. You wouldn’t include an outline in a book as it’s only a tool used to write your book.

Thus, don’t publish your research notes. Instead, follow these suggestions.


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How to include genealogy research notes in a book?


There are TWO ways I have included my research information depending on the focus of my story.


For Books Featuring Recent Ancestors, follow these steps:

  1. Write the story.

  2. Use in-text superscript notations that reference a citation in chapter endnotes.

  3. Use footnotes for:

  4. additional explanations that you don’t want to include in the story but might benefit the reader.

  5. items that need further explanations.

  6. unresolved questions.

  7. Insert visual elements such as photos, newspaper clippings, and documents with Chicago Style sources underneath

  8. exclude these citations from chapter endnotes

Following these strategies, you eliminate the need to publish a genealogy research log in your book. Everything that would have appeared on the log is sprinkled throughout the book.


For Books Featuring Distant Ancestors, follow these steps:

Since distant relatives rely on genealogical research and methodology, divide your story into two sections.

  1. The Story

  2. The Appendix

The Story section repeats all the elements of the Recent Ancestors (see above) regarding citations, endnotes, footnotes, and visual elements.


THE DIFFERENCE is the Appendix


This is my RESEARCH REPORT / NOTES section, where I discuss

  1. Research trails

  2. Conflicting evidence

  3. Unresolved questions

  4. Deadends

Do not include a research log because your written explanations are far more valuable.


It’s that simple. Do not publish your research log, but instead focus on writing your story and adding citations and commentary in the appropriate places.


For Additional Writing Tips

  1. How to write a simple death story about your ancestor

  2. Writing a History, One Record at a Time

  3. What Voice Should I Use When I Write Family Histories?


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