Best way to capture hard-copy citations

I found a fun video from Family History Fanatics listing seven common genealogy mistakes. I’ve made every single one of these mistakes, and have developed some guidelines for avoiding them.

The fifth one was not citing sources, which refers to writing down a fact you discovered in a non-digital source but forgetting to write down where you found it.

I’ve done that. Drove me nuts when I wanted to go back to confirm some tidbit. My solution to this is sitting in my pocket, combined with two free apps, Office Lens and OneNote.

When you find a source, pull out your phone and take a photo. And don’t just take a picture of the page with the fact, take a picture of the container, too. For a book, the title page at the front is perfect. For a microfilm, if the machine can’t take images, just take a picture of the box before you start taking snaps of the screen. If the machine can scan images, name the file with the FHL film number, or something similar.

Pretty quickly, though, you’ll run into issues managing all those images. I ran into this app called Office Lens, available for iOS, Android & Windows. Full disclosure, I worked on the Office team at one point. Anyway, it’s a really simple premise: take a series of related photo with Office Lens, and the images are transferred to a page in OneNote.

Let me show you how it works. I’ve got this genealogy of Mayflower families. First, I take a picture of the title page. Then I add another image of the page I care about—I think you can take up to ten before you need to save. Then I save the images to OneNote and put in a quick title.

When I go to OneNote, all the images are there on one page. Even better, OneNote uses optical character recognition, so you can search through the text from your images.

It’s so much faster than what I used to do: typing in a citation and the information I wanted.

OneNote is also a big plus for capturing sources from websites. When you go to the Insert section of the ribbon and choose screen clipping, OneNote will not only copy your selection from the computer screen, but it will get the hyperlink from the browser as well, so you can go back to find that anytime.

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