For Genealogy Writers

You’ve put a tremendous amount of work into researching and compiling your genealogy. Now you’re ready to publish it. Don’t overlook or underestimate the importance of the final step: having it proofread by a skilled and experienced genealogist and proofreader.

Proofreading a genealogy involves more than checking your final pages for typographical errors, misplaced punctuation, or formatting issues. I bring the same genealogical research skill and expertise to my proofreading projects as I bring to research, writing, and content/copy editing projects. Here are some areas I check when I proof a genealogy:

  • Are names consistently spelled throughout the book?
  • Do the dates make sense? Did you accidentally type 1966 when you meant 1866?
  • Does the chronology for each family group make sense? Is a mom giving birth too young or too old? Is a male marrying at age 12? Are children born at least nine months apart? Is a child born after the mother has died?
  • Do the generations make chronological sense, or have generations been compressed or inadvertently omitted?
  • Is the historical content accurate?
  • Is the chosen numbering system used correctly?
  • When a child is listed with his parents, then carried forward as an adult, does the information in the child listing match that of the adult listing?
  • If your table of contents says generation three starts on page 178, does it start on that page?
  • Are your source citations consistently and properly cited according to the style manual you’ve chosen? Have you chosen a style manual?
  • Did you accidentally insert typos into a transcription or a quoted passage?
  • If you transcribed a document and are including a reproduction of the document in the book, is it transcribed correctly?
  • Are your secondary sources listed in the notes also listed in the bibliography?

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Sharon proofread over 2,000 pages of my four-volume study, Opening the Ozarks, 1835-1839. She not only caught the typos and grammatical mistakes, but problems such as children born too close together, marriages within nine months of the first child and mothers possibly too young to be giving birth. Bringing these to my attention so that I could recheck records and explain inconsistencies, kept me from making embarrassing mistakes.” —the late Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FASG

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In addition to using the style manual you have selected (I recommend The Chicago Manual of Style), I will make a style sheet to ensure that your manuscript is consistent throughout. For example, is it your style to abbreviate months? If so, I’ll make sure months are abbreviated. Is it your style to write “website” as one word? I’ll make sure it’s always one word.

Proofing a genealogy is tedious and time consuming, and each genealogy is different. Depending on your project’s scope and length, the amount of documentation, and how “clean” the final pages are, I can typically proof around 10 to 12 camera-ready pages per hour. But I will send you a progress report after three to five hours to give you a more accurate estimate for your book.

Here are some major genealogical projects I’ve proofread:

  • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, Volume IV, I-L, by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society Press, 2005)
  • The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony, 1620-1633, by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society Press, 2005)
  • Opening the Ozarks, 1835-1839, 4 vols., by Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FASG (Saline, Mich.: McNaughton-Gunn, 2006)
  • Elder Bethuel Riggs (1757-1835) of Morris County, New Jersey, and His Family Through Five Generations, by Alvy Ray Smith (Boston, New England Historic Genealogical Society Press, 2006)

Please note: Genealogies that are not written using a standard compiled genealogy format, a generally accepted numbering system, such as the Register or NGSQ system, and a standard documentation style guide, often take much longer to proof.