Friday, January 13, 2012

To Cite or Not to Cite? That's not really the question!

What if I WANT to cite my sources on my blog posts but I have no idea how?

I somehow missed all the hoopla about whether bloggers should cite their sources in their blog posts that was discussed on some mailing list that seemed to cause some huge divide between “certified” genealogists and non-certified genealogists. I read a few posts discussing the matter, which I won’t link to in an effort to “stop the insanity!” – as a side note, people have often told me that I looked like Susan Powter, who coined the above catchphrase, so I like to use it too and refer to it often.

Anyways, one theme I saw common to the posts that I read about was the issue with exactly how does one insert and format footnotes on a blog? Well, it’s pretty simple. I have done it several times and you are probably already doing it, but just don’t know it.

If you are like me, and you distrust the blogger platform to the point that you write all of your posts in a Word Processor prior to copying and pasting into a new Blogger post, then you can create your footnotes in your Word Processor. In Microsoft Word 2007, you can click on the “References” tab and then click the “Insert Footnote” button at the end of the sentence that you want to cite.

(Click on image to open a larger image. Then click your browser's back button to return to this page). 

Footnotes are usually inserted at the end of the sentence, outside of the period or quotation marks, without a space. When you insert a footnote, Word will then direct you to the bottom of the page where a number is inserted and the cursor is placed. This is where you will write in your citation. Or if you are not comfortable writing out a citation, you can write a note about the information you would like to cite. For example, if I found the will of Samuel Lewis, I might write the following note: “Will of Samuel Lewis, 1823, Randolph County, North Carolina; Found at the North Carolina State Archives.”  

So now you have your text and your footnote and it looks like this:

Now you are ready to copy and paste to a new blog post. Log in to Blogger, click on new post. Give your post a name. Then from your Word doc, press Ctrl + A to select all of your text. Do not worry about the text contained in the bottom of the page within the footnote itself. It will be captured with the Ctrl + A. Then press Ctrl + C to copy and then go to your new blog post window and click Ctrl + V to paste it in. This is what it will look like in your blogger edit window.

Blogger does retain the hyperlink between the footnotes, however, they do not work, so I would recommend that you remove them. If you click on the hyperlink, it will just open a blank page and your reader will get lost. To remove the hyperlinks, left-click your cursor on the [1] then click the “remove” link. Do this for the footnote [1] beneath the line as well.

Your new post will look like this: the [1] is regularly formatted text

Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you want to put sources on your blog post, then this is an adequate and easy way to do it.

As a side note, I did try to create the footnotes and hyperlinks myself in Word, using the bookmark and hyperlink feature; and although the hyperlinks transferred over to blogger, they still did not work properly and opened a blank page when clicked. This would probably work if you created customized html code within your blog post editor, however, I did not see why that was necessary. The footnotes and citations are there for the reader to review if they want. The important part is making the citations available for my readers (or me) to review.

If you would like to share the way that you include footnotes in your blog posts, please feel free to leave a comment below or link to a post your wrote about how you post citations on your blog. And remember genealogy is a collaboration, not a conflagration of our peers~!


  1. I'm not so organized. I just write everything in Blogger.

    However, I do have a trick for formatting footnotes using my genealogy database. I enter the information in (usually I'm also entering whatever facts I've unearthed) and add my source using Legacy's SourceWriter templates. Then copy and paste into Blogger. Not the prettiest, but I do get the basics.

    1. Oh cool, Susan! I will have to check out some of your sources then!

  2. Ginger I have been trying to figure out for quite some time what you just explained in such simple terms. Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle, I'm glad you found this post helpful.