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How to Handle Online Sources

I have learned by experience that what you found on the Internet yesterday may have a new web address (URL) today, or be gone entirely tomorrow. When I first began using Internet sources years ago I normally just copied and pasted the information into my genealogy program. If I was being particularly conscientious, I would include the Web page as a source of information -- which is how I came to find out that Web pages addresses change or disappear altogether.

I now print out Web pages that are key sources of information so that I can file the "hard copy" with my research extracts and photocopies. Here are some tips:

Be sure to include the Web page title or description, URL, copyright information and date you accessed the page.

Web sites often have information about the sources used in creating their databases, which I include with my print outs. For example, I like information from Ancestry.com because it documents its online databases with a full description as well as complete source information.

If a Web page has a "printer-friendly" version, use it to print your copy. You can find printer-friendly links at many Web sites, including Ancestry.com and FamilySearch Internet.

Short Web pages pages can be printed out from your browser by simply clicking on the browser's print button.

If a Web page is too big to conveniently print try one of these approaches:

1) Select (highlight) the portion you want, then click on File and select Print. When the Print screen opens, look under Page Range and choose Selection and then click Print. This approach is also handy when the right edge of a Web page is missing from a print out.

2) Copy and paste the selected text into a word processing document. Be sure to also copy the Web page title or description, URL, copyright information and date you accessed the page. To maintain the integrity of the Web source, avoid any corrections to spelling or other changes that alter the information as it is given on the Web page.

If information comes from digital data a CD or diskette, I follow these same general guidelines. The program that reads the disk usually has a way to select specific records and print them out. The print outs automatically include the CD title and publisher information. Good examples include the Family Archive Viewer (for CDs published by Broderbund) and Family History Resource File Viewer (for CDs published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter~ day Saints).

Keep in mind that genealogy Web pages and digital information on disks are almost always secondary sources that need verification. An exception is a scanned image of an original source.

Be sure to cite your sources as you enter data into Legacy. There are some great examples, including Web page sources, at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/tipsSourceSamples.asp. In addition, Legacy's Ultimate Guide to Sources Training CD shows you the value of effectively entering sources in Legacy and how to do it step~ by~ step. Recommended for beginners to advanced, this CD is a bargain at only US $9.95. More information is available at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/Store/enter.html?target=../en-us/p_9.html

Legacy News Editor


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