FamilySearch Wiki:WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records/Guidelines for Articles

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Main Page: FamilySearch Wiki:WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records

Blue check.png This page documents a guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that contributors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense and the occasional exception.

Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

We need your help! Below is a style guide to assist you in editing and authoring desciptions of wiki articles that describe FamilySearch digital collections.

Some Style Notes

FamilySearch provides free access to registered users of Historical Records Collections found on The wiki articles that describe these collections have the phrase "FamilySearch Historical Records" in the title of the article.

These wiki articles are written to assist users who may or may not be genealogical experts. The articles should be written in a basic language style using simple words. Descriptions of each section of a FamilySearch Historical Records wiki article are listed below.

FamilySearch Collection Template

FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: Historical Record Collections .

The template brands the article as describing a collection from the FamilySearch website and creates links to the digital collections.

Members of the User Guidance Unit (a FamilySearch entity) adds the template to the Historical Records wiki articles.

Image Visibility

If the collection the article is describing has any legal or contractual restrictions regarding the digital images of the collection records, then this section is added to the wiki article. This header will be added by User Guidance staff or missionaries.

Title in the Language of the Records

This portion of the article exists for non-English language collections. This section includes the title of the wiki article in the language of the collection records but without the suffix (FamilySearch HIstorical Records). When this section is incomplete, a template is added asking the community to supply a translation of the title in the language of the records. The template serves two purposes:

Wiki Article Title: Argentina, Salta, Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records) Translated Title: Argentina, Salta, registros parroquiales de la Iglesia Católica

When the template is in place (translated title is unknown):

Record Description

This section of the article includes what record types make up the collection, the years that those records cover, the language (if not English) the records are in, any special formatting (printed, type-written, handwritten, etc.), and a description of the physical state of the original records in the collection, such as:

  • Water damage
  • Torn pages
  • Bleed-through
  • Fire damage

It is also helpful to describe major historical or political influences that effected the creation of the records.


This collection of census records covers the year of 1901. Census enumerations were recorded in registers with legal size papers in landscape orientation. Each book (libretto) is separated by a title page, which includes the name of the province, the section, and the type of population covered. It is followed by the enumeration sheets containing surname and names of the inhabitants, age, gender, and civil status, nationality, place of birth, occupation, literacy, and special conditions. At the end of each book (libretto) is a global summary page of the register.

If this section is incomplete, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

Example of the incomplete section:

The Browse Statement Template

If the collection has images to browse, a link is added to this section that takes the user right to the images. Use the Collection Browse Link template by typing {{Collection Browse Link}} and the associated coding.


You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Sweden, Östergötland Church Records, 1555-1911.

Record Content

This section should list each major record group and what genealogical data may be found in each. If there is more than one major record group, then bold the record type. See the example below.

Example of a complete list:

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • Groom's name, age, civil status, origin, residence and occupation
  • Bride's name, age, civil status, residence and origin
  • Groom's parents' names
  • Bride's parents' names
  • Event date
  • Event location
  • Witnesses' names, age and residence

If this section is incomplete, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

Example of an incomplete section:

Sample Images

Samples of images from the collection will be added to this section individually, or in galleries when there is more than one image. Images should be placed above or next to the record type that describes each image. Sample images should be included for each major record group. If the records are not in English, then edit the sample images to include call-outs of the genealogical data in English. If the image is in a non-English language and it has not been translated, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

Example of the template for an image needing translation:

How to Use the Record

This section "How to Use the Record" requires the following subtopics: how to search the collection; and, if the records are not in English, where to find translation help.

Other optional subtopics may include: how to use the information found in a record, tips on continuing research or searching the collection, suggestions for if the record cannot be found, and any general information about the records or locality that may aid the users in their search.

Under the main header "How to Use the Record," it is helpful to provide suggestions that may aid the user in their search, such as:

As you are searching, it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, estimated [event] year, and family relationships.

Specific research strategies for the record type(s) may be added as well.

Search the Collection

If the article is describing an indexed collection, meaning the records are searchable by name, then insert the following paragraph:

To search by index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

When describing how to use a browse collection, that is, a collection of just images and is not indexed, then include the categories of the path to get to the images and the paragraph below:

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "_____________" category
⇒Select the "_____________" category
⇒Select the "_____________" category which takes you to the images

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

If this section is incomplete, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

Example of the section when instructions are not given:

For Help Reading These Records

This section should be in all articles describing non-English collections. A link should be provided to a genealogical word list for the language of the records; these can usually be found in the FamilySearch Wiki. If the records are in more than one language, then provide a word list for each language. Other useful language help links may be provided in this section as well.


These records are in Italian. For help reading the records see the wiki articles:

Other Optional Sections

Contributors may also add additional information to these articles about the time, place, records, and record data that may help users in their family history research. Such information can be broken down into three optional sections:

Using the Information: This section provides information instructing the users on what to do with the information they found in the record.

See this wiki article for an example: Using the Information

Tips to Keep in Mind: This section provides helpful tips on how to search the collection, especially if the record type or time period may be difficult to search.

See this wiki article for an example: Tips to Keep in Mind

Unable to Find Your Ancestor: This section provides suggestions on what to do or where to go if the user is unable to find the record of their ancestor in this collection.

See this wiki article for an example: Unable to Find Your Ancestor

Other Searches

When there is a section "Unable to Find Your Ancestor" in the article, place the FHL Search Tip template into that section. Otherwise, create a new section entitled "Other Searches" for the template.

This wiki documentation page describes this template:

FHL Search Tip Template

Related Websites

The purpose of this section is to encourage the community to add links to websites for archives and other websites with content related to the collection time period, locality, and record types. If this section is incomplete, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

To create website links while in Edit mode:

  1. Type an opening bracket "["
  2. Copy and paste the URL of the website after the opening bracket
  3. Press the SPACE bar once
  4. Type a title for the link
  5. Type a closing bracket "]"
  6. Add any description of the website (e.g., Website is in Spanish), if necessary, outside the closing bracket

Example of the section when a website link is provided:

Chinese Genealogies

Multiple links listed in this section should have an asterisk in front of the opening bracket so as to create a bullet list.

Example of bullet list with multiple links:

Example of the section when website links are not given:

Related Wiki Articles

This section provides links to wiki articles with content relating to the topic of the Historical Records article. If this section is incomplete, a template is added. The template serves two purposes:

Example of the section when other wiki links are not given:

To create the link:
  1. Type two opening brackets "[["
  2. Copy and paste the title of the wiki article directly after the opening bracket
  3. Type two closing brackets "]]"

Example of the section when wiki links are given:

Argentina Census

When multiple links are listed, use the asterisk to create a bullet list:

Known Issues With This Collection

This header will be added as needed by World Wide Support staff and missionaries when they add information about problems with the collection.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

In this section, add the “Contributor Invite” template by copying and pasting this wikitext coding:

{{Contributor invite}}

Citations for This Collection

This section is filled out by User Guidance employees and missionaries. It contains an introductory paragraph about citations, the citation for the collection, the citation for an indexed record found on, and the citation for an image of a record found on

Example of the Collection Citation paragraph and template:

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:
{{Collection citation | text= "Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981." Index and Images. <i>FamilySearch</i>. : accessed 2015. Parroquias Católicas, Buenos Aires [Catholic Church parishes, Buenos Aires Province].}}

Example of the Image Citation template:

{{Image_Citation_Link |CID=CID4000000 |title=Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981 |}}

How it appears in the article:

Image Citation:

When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981.

Example of the Record Citation template:

{{Record Citation Link |CID=CID4000000 |title=Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981 }}

How it appears in the article:

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981.

This section always has the same exact format for every article, but with the specific citation information for each individual article.

Stub Article

If the article has three or more incomplete sections, the stub template needs to be added to the bottom of the article. The purpose of the template is to: