Tips from the Pros: Easily Record Source Information on Copies

from George G. Morgan

When you make a photocopy of a page from a pertinent book at a library or archive, make a note of the publication information for your source citation. Include:

  • Author’s name(s)
  • Title
  • City and state (and country if foreign) of publication
  • Name of publisher
  • Year of publication
  • Other appropriate information (volume number, edition, etc.)
  • Repository where you located the material
  • The date you accessed the material

When you return home, you can type this information in your word processor in a bibliographic citation format. Feed the photocopies through your printer so that the citation will be neatly printed on the back of the photocopies you made from that source.

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14 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Easily Record Source Information on Copies

  1. You are so right!! I spent hours making copies of very old documents at a courthouse one year and found out that on several of those pages I had omitted the volume and page number as well as the date of the document. I’ll have to tie up some loose ends on my next family history trip. Live and learn!!

  2. Also neatly print name of publication, volume, page no, repository in the margin, so when the document is photocopied later this information is available, as many people do not think to print both sides, and all photocopy machines do not have the capability to copy both sides in one pass.

  3. I take it one step further. My genealogy software, Reunion for Macintosh, assigns a number for each source when it is first typed in. I suppose most programs do this. This number is used in bibliographies as well. When I take home a photocopy from a library, I add the information you have listed, but also the number my software will be using to refer to it.

  4. Excellent information! I have made up a form and have added it to my travel kit and is now conveniently located on my desk at home.

  5. When I photocopy pages from a book, I also make a copy of the title page and, if necessary, the back of that page or the next page that might contain pertinent information. Then I make hand written notes of any information that might not be found there, like page numbers, etc.

  6. It is important, as Barbara Savalick comments, to have the citation on the FRONT of the document so that it will stay with the document through subsequent photocopy editions. One can write the information on the back until getting home when it can be put through the printer at home using any white space or margin on the front. Sometimes the document can be reduced to 97% to create enough of a margin for the source.

    This is extremely important when you and those that follow you want to see the original and will know how to find it.

  7. Ditto and an addition to Barbara Savalick’s comment about printing the bibliographic information in the margin. To save writing time for multi-page copies, I write a full bibliograpic citation, plus repository and date, on a piece of paper that I can move from page to page. I position it in an appropriate place on the page to be copied, typically on a part of the page not pertinent to my research or on the margin, or on a plain white piece of paper inserted behind the page to prevent wide black margins. Also, if anything has to be written or printed on the back, I make liberal use of the word: “over.”

  8. When making copies, set the copier to 93% reduction — this gives ample margins for making notes while still producing a legible copy.

    I recommend that notes be made in the bottom margin of the page; it’s easier to locate a given copy after it is placed in a file folder.

    On deed records (and other copies from County Clerk/Recorder’s records and District Court records), I write the info in the lower right-hand corner, as follows:

    Vol ___/ Page___, DR (for Deed Records — use the info on the spine of the volume for type of record)
    ________ County, _______(State)

    In the lower right-hand corner, write the surnames of the parties in the document, acreage, etc.

    For copies from publications, write the info you would use in a footnote, as in research papers.

    Write “over” if you put more info on the back of the copy.

  9. If you will be waiting till you get to your computer, you can go to the library’s on-line catalog and print the books info from there (or cut and paste it into a word doc to print).

  10. I make a notation in pencil on the back of the document I copied or use a sticky note on the front. Then when I get home or to my computer, I use regular mailing labels and type in the information on that (can also copy and paste for multiple pages) and then stick it on the front of the document so that when I photocopy for someone else or scan for a backup, the information is always there and the back of the document doesn’t need to be remembered.

  11. If the book I wish to photocopy is from the closed stack at a library, I save the call slip and staple it to the copy. Most require the same info that is needed for citation including the library name and date of use. Just add the page number.

  12. Excellent advice. Have had to go back. Easiest way for me is to copy whatever pages I need to have all the info.

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