As family historians we do a lot of writing! Whether it’s as simple as entering names and dates and places into a family tree program, writing e-mails to colleagues and family members, blogging to the world, creating a published volume of your research, writing for a genealogy journal, and much more, it’s important that we do it with style!
I, as many, may remember that in high school and/or college we were required to use a “certain style guide” as we wrote. Of course, not all teachers/professors required the same one and these guides never agreed on everything ... Trust me when I say that after dealing with a few of those, I knew that I would never be an “editor!” And, that I have learned to very much appreciate what editor’s do to help writers!
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to their very own editor.
That said, there are many of these older style guides and some newer style guides which might help make your writing more accessible. I was reminded of this when earlier this year I came across, Writing For the Digital Age: 5 Free Writing Style Guides Online. It was a bit of a nostalgic trip since the last guide mentioned is The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. I remember that one!
Even if I do not necessarily “follow” every element of these guides, they actually do help one write better.
There are also style guides that have been created and are specific to our genealogy community.
Some of these are:
- Guidelines for Writers, National Genealogical Society Quarterly – A Journal for Today’s Family Historian
- Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin (National Genealogical Society)
- Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, 2nd edition (American Ancestors aka NEHGS)
Some recent Upfront with NGS blog posts about writing:
- Genealogy Writing -- Do you use the popular "Historical Present" tense? Should you?
- 20 redundant phrases to eliminate from your genealogy writing & other writing tips!
What one writing tip would you share?
Do you know of another great style guide, whether genealogical or general?
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