Citations for Canadians

Genealogy Citations for Canadians

New genealogists don’t think about source citations when they research their family trees.   They are busy finding new cousins and making the branches grow.

It is not until they go back to find a certain reference or to review where they got a certain piece of information that they begin to realize just how important citations are.  Citations are also vital when people share their family tree research.

What are citations?

According to Wikipedia:

Broadly, a citation is a reference to a published or unpublished source (not always the original source). More precisely, a citation is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression (e.g. [Newell84]) embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the relevance of the works of others to the topic of discussion at the spot where the citation appears. Generally the combination of both the in-body citation and the bibliographic entry constitutes what is commonly thought of as a citation (whereas bibliographic entries by themselves are not).

A prime purpose of a citation is intellectual honesty to attribute prior or unoriginal work and ideas to the correct sources, and to allow the reader to determine independently whether the referenced material supports the author’s argument in the claimed way.

Recent blog discussion on citations bring home just how important they can be.   The gold standard is outlined in Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained.  She has also produced several “QuickSheets” which are very helpful for the genealogist.  (available on

John Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog pointed me towards a useful four pager “Citations for Canadians” posted on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Ontario Chapter website at:

AFHS president Kay Clarke and Diane Granger have put together a great reference for newcomers to genealogy called “Beginning Your Family History“.

Check out Step 4. Evaluating Your Information.  The source of the information can  help determine whether the information is truth or fiction.

Many genealogy software programs make it easy to record your sources.  If you are new to genealogy it is highly recommended you establish the habit of recording where you obtained the information.  In the long term you will be glad you did.


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One Response to Citations for Canadians

  1. Marion says:

    The AFHS Library has two copies of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, One can circulate and the other is a reference copy so it is always there.

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