I may be opening up a can of worms here, but a conversation in the comments of my post about accountability for research logs has me pondering the question again.
How important is it for the hobbyist genealogist to use properly formatted citations?
(Please understand that my question is about the format of source citations, not about whether we should cite sources. I absolutely believe every fact should be backed up by at least one source.)
I think many folks would agree that Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained is the gold standard source citations. I own Evidence Explained and I do consult it occasionally. But generally I relax the rules for myself. I make sure that my citations would allow me to find the source again and I typically use the citation templates found in my Reunion software.
Basically, I want to make sure that it’s easy to cite sources so that I always cite them. If I’m hung on doing it right, I may put off citing the source, which does not do me any good. So, for example, I used templates in Reunion to create this census citation, associated with a fact in the record of my 3d great grandparents, Joseph and Mary Price:
“1870 U.S. Census,” Pleasant Gap, Bates, Missouri, 25 Jun 1870, Ancestry.com, 4 April 2014.
The 1870 date is the date the census was taken, and the 2014 date is the date I first viewed it. If I needed to find it again, I think I could.
So I’m curious: what do you do? Do you use formal citations are are you more casual? If you don’t use Evidence Explained, do you have another source you swear by?
If you think I’m making a mistake by not being more formal, feel free to tell me!