A-Z Challenge 2019 – N is for Notes

AtoZ2019NWhatever research you are working on, whether that be a school or college project, a genealogical one or a more specific genealogical project such as a One-Name or One-Place study you are going to take notes.

Notes are only as good as the value that they give to the person who has to read them.

We all start out with good intentions of writing nice and neatly and not using abbreviations and over time the writing becomes slopping, there are abbreviations creeping in and some time later when you look at the notes they are not clear or readable. I have done it too and as I became more familiar with research skills I began get better.

I am a prolific note taker and always have a notebook in my bag so I can capture thoughts and ideas. I have been known to scope out presentations and articles whilst sitting in a coffee shop.

So here are my tips:

  • Add the date to each page
  • Use page numbers and index the notebook
  • Record what the notes are about
  • Record where the records relate to

If I have a notebook which does not have an index at the front I leave a couple of pages and index as I go. If I am researching and trawling through Parish Registers for example I note the parish and the details as I see it. I do not abbreviate Thomas to Tho unless that is what the document says. I record the records office reference and the location. So it might read, Guildford, Surrey, England – Baptisms St Nicholas 1890 PR……..held at Surrey History Centre and accessed via Ancestry.

Even though I love pen and paper I also use Evernote and One-Note. I have become a little disillusioned with Evernote and I am reconsidering my options. I currently have a complete back up of my study material in Evernote. I also have two lots of archive material, so that is notes that were relevant once and not know – I don’t delete them, I have an archive file – I might do a post on that once the A-Z finishes.

However you keep your notes, be sure that you an easily read them and if you need to retrace your steps to the original source make sure to record where the material is located and what it is.

One of the things I do as each time the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course runs is note down questions from students. I answer those questions of course, but some of them end up here as posts or even a series of posts. One question posed from a student I turned into an article for the Journal of One-Name Studies (in fact that became a series too, although that was not the intention at the beginning!)

If you want to read the background to my affair with notebooks you can read that HERE.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge 2019 - Tips, Tools & Starting Surname Research Series, Evernote & One Note, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Stationery, Filofax, Journals & Notebooks. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A-Z Challenge 2019 – N is for Notes

    • That looks a nice notebook and I think from the description a bit similar to Moleskine. I love the pocket at the back and always use them. I bought one recently that was US paper size, with a delightful green colour, two book marks, a palm tree pattern on the inside and the inside pocket. It was from the grocery store and has good paper quality (I have used them previously) It was a steal, at £3.00 sterling – not that I needed another notebook!


  1. I have a big notebook that I just started a few months ago in which I try to record as much as possible. Electronically, I’ve moved from Evernote to Zotero and just love it. Additionally, I use Scrivener for writing my blog posts and have tons of research notes in there. I back up frequently, as I’m paranoid about losing it all. Certainly can’t print everything out – don’t have room to store that much paper!!


    • I have heard good things about Zotero and bought the book from Amazon a few months ago. I have not had chance to explore the software yet. What made you move from Evernote to Zotero? I do use Scrivener, but I tend to sit and write my blog posts. I just finished a writing project, 66 chapters all done in One-Note and then sent across to word. I would not normally have done that, but had started with the research notes in OneNote and kept them there. I have 30 years of paper and want to digitise my research, use my website which is a HUGE benefit of the Guild of One-Name Studies member benefit and then recycle the paper except for documents, photos and certificates. I use Google Drive and Dropbox also.

      Liked by 1 person

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