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Traditional Template Examples""

Traditional sources include books, magazines, journals, and other materials that are, more than likely, printed by a professional publisher and are, arguably, the easiest type of source to cite as they are most similar to other citation systems. This template contains a total of 17 elements, three of which are REQUIRED (these are highlighted in red). The following describes each field and examples of citations are provided below.

Master Source

  1. Author(s)/Editor(s): Provide the name of the individual(s) who created the source (in many cases, the name of an agency or other entity will be used). This field is REQUIRED.
  2. Role: Input the roles (e.g., compiler, editor, transcriber, editor, etc. of the individual[s])who created this source. It is not necessary to indicate if the person's role was author as that is implied.
  3. Date: Enter the exact date (if known) that this source was created. Books only require the year of publication, articles often require the month, day, and year.
  4. Source/Book Title: This field should contain the name of the book, magazine, etc. that represents the source.
  5. Source Subtitle: Indicate any subtitle of this source. If one is not present, then leave this field empty as it's optional.
  6. Title: This field is optional, however, the name of an article, chapter, or other title must be included here if one available.
  7. Publisher: Most traditional sources have a publisher. If one is known, that information must be included here.
  8. Publisher Location: Similar to other citation systems, the city and state of the publisher should be listed. Although abbreviations for state names may be used, I prefer to provide the entire name (that decision is left up to you - just be consistent).

Source Details

  1. Page Number(s): Most traditional sources have page numbers; list them here.
  2. Person: Provide the name of the specific person that this citation refers to.
  3. Location: Enter the city, county, state, and country where the event that is documented by this source occurred, otherwise leave this field empty. (If the event occurred in the U.S., I do not list the country as that is implied by the presence of a state name.)
  4. Repository: This is an optional field that I only use if the source was obtained over the Internet or is a one-of-a-kind document that is held in a private collection. If this document was obtained from a library, DO NOT list the repository. This is similar to the practice of traditional citation systems (e.g., those found in bibliographies) which never list repositories.
  5. URL: Although the full URL may be appropriate, I'm now listing only the home page of sites where a document is located (e.g., http://www.ancestry.com) as many on these, particularly those requiring subscriptions, the actual URL is not available. Again, this field is only used if the source was obtained from the Internet. There is also a new standard that genealogists haven't yet adapted - that is the use of a "Digital Object Identifier" - this is a number that is now being assigned to electronic sources available on the Internet. In the unlikely event that a DOI is available, use that instead of the URL. Information on DOIs can be found here.
  6. Date File Accessed: This is another optional field that is only used to cite sources that were obtained on the Internet. In all other cases, it should be left blank.
  7. Misc. Ref. Num.: I have now used Simple Citations for more than a year and have rarely used this field.
  8. Personal ID: The information placed in this field should refer to the personal numbering system you use to organize your family history. This information should never be printed on reports or in your citations. It is only used to help you keep track of your documentation.


Book (compiled)

Book (compiled)

Example Citation:

Wright, F. Edward, compiler (1993). Berks County, Pennsylvania Church Records of the 18th Century: Volume 3. Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications. || p. 91. Simon Riegel. Jefferson, Berks County, Pennsylvania.


Books are among the most commonly cited documents by nearly all citation systems. Although they are not as common in genealogical records, the manner in which they are cited is very straight forwarded. The above provides an example of a book that contains a compilation of church records.

City Directory

City Directory

Example Citation:

R. L. Polk and Company, (1898). 1898 City Directory: Detroit, Michigan. Detroit, Michigan: R. L. Polk and Company. || p. 711. Murton L. Hawley. Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. Footnote.com (http://www.footnote.com: accessed 30 July 2010).


City Directories are common sources of genealogical information. Although many are now found on the Internet (as was the above example), they are still traditional sources. As the example notes, the directory is listed only by its name; therefore, nothing is listed under the "title" field as that only applies to article and chapter names.

Newspaper Article (author unknown)

Newspaper Article (no author)

Example Citation:

Grand Rapids Press, (10 May 1902). "For Manslaughter Only," Grand Rapids Press. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Grand Rapids Press. || p. 2. James B. Hawley. Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan. Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 16 November 2011).



The above citation is typical of many that family historians will find in that no author is listed. As the author field is required, it is appropriate to list the name of the newspaper instead (this is consistent with the practice within Simple Citations to use the entity or agency responsible for maintaining a source when using both the census and non-traditional templates). While it is also possible to list the author as "unknown", doing so provides even less information than using the name of the newspaper as the lead element within the situation and should be avoided.

IMPORANT NOTE: As a rule, formatting codes are NOT to be included in the Simple Citations templates. However, there is only one exception to this rule: a formatting code must be used when the name of an entity (in this case, a newspaper) appears as the "author". The same issue arises if the name of an agency, organization, etc. is used. Specifically, the forward slash (/) must be used to enclose the entities name in RootsMagic in order to override a default setting (if you are using Simple Citations with another program, be sure to check the user guide that was provided). In the above example, the name of the "author" is listed as:

/Grand Rapids Press/

The reason for this is that under "normal" circumstances the name of an individual would be listed as the author; for example:

John Brown

Roots Magic, however, will automatically reformat that name when printing the author's name as:

Brown, John

Listing the surname first, followed by the given name is also consistent with nearly all of the citation system.

Had the forward slashes not been used in the above example, the name of the newspaper would be listed in the resulting citation as:

Press, Grand Rapids

This, obviously, is incorrect. Unfortunately, there is no other way that I've been able to determine to get around this without creating more templates or adding additional fields, both of which would require more decisions to be made by the end user. In looking at other commercial programs used by academics and other professionals to assist with citing their traditional sources, it was noted that they handle the same situation through the use of additional punctuation too. Of course, this is not ideal but, at this time, another workable solution has yet to be identified.

There is one other exception to this rule which is explained in the example for "Newspaper Article (more than one author).

Finally, it should be noted that the name of the newspaper is also listed under "Source/Book Title" (another required field), as well as under Publisher (an optional field), the information is appropriate in both of those places too.



© 2013-2016 All rights reserved by Jeff La Marca, Ph.D.