Continuing Genealogical Studies (CGS):
Guide to Documentation and Source Citation

Course Overview

Guide to Documentation and Source Citation (revised 2018) is self-paced, online, and in the cloud. Keeping accurate notes or citations is the backbone of reliable genealogy. When we are fast in pursuit of the next exciting record for our family, we may forget to take adequate notes. We deeply regret it later when we can’t identify the source or failed to cite it fully.

Many genealogical researchers are confused by the best way to cite and notate the sources where they located family records and information. Guide to Documentation and Source Citation helps genealogists understand the correct principles for citing sources. The principles taught in this course are based on Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.

Author: Michael Hait, CG
Prerequisites: None
Course: Online, cloud based
Price: NGS Members $45 Non-members $65

Course Description

Guide to Documentation and Source Citation is a course for those who want to understand the principles of citation for common sources such as books, periodicals, and a variety of filmed and digitized records. This course teaches why citations are necessary; why a consistent citation style is used by genealogists; and which citation style is most appropriate for genealogical research. You will learn the difference between the formats of reference notes and source lists; understand the common elements of all source citations; and understand the methods for documenting various records.

The course is divided into three modules with multiple sections, which include reading and reference lists, web links, self-correcting quizzes, and a glossary. A full syllabus is provided to course registrants. The course modules are as follows.

  • Module 1—Introduction to Documentation
  • Module 2—Basic Citation Principles
  • Module 3—Applying Basic Citation Principles

About The Author

Michael HaitMichael Grant Hait Jr., CG is a professional genealogical researcher, author, publisher, and lecturer. He is an instructor at the Institute of Genealogical & Historical Research (IGHR); the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).


Continuing Genealogical Studies series NGS Members Non-Members
Guide to Documentation and Source Citation $45 $65
Register Now >


Guide to Documentation and Source Citation is a cloud-based course, so you will need either a computer or tablet with an internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet. All students work independently.

To optimize your online learning experience, see more about the Canvas system .

NGS grants a license to an individual to take the course shown above. This grants the individual a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable right to the course materials for that student’s personal educational use only. All students work independently.

Do I Need Anything Further?

NGS strongly recommends the book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace1 and QuickSheet: Citing Databases and Images by Elizabeth Shown Mills2.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

The Continuing Genealogical Studies series courses have no set time or date for weekly attendance. These online courses are geared toward individuals who have varied schedules that may include their work, volunteer pursuits, and or family obligations. You prioritize your time management and your learning, so your course work can be scheduled at your own pace.

Upon registration, you have access to the course for six months from the date of registration. If you need extra time, a one-time extension of three months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator.

When Can I Start the Course?

Within three business days, you receive two separate emails, one that confirms your registration and one that provides login instructions.

After taking one of the American Genealogical Studies series courses, am I a certified genealogist?

Although the National Genealogical Society has a variety of courses available to help you learn about the methods, skills, and standards for certification, NGS is not a licensing body. Therefore, no formal genealogical credential or accreditation is implied. Please refer to the websites of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) or the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) for their policies or standards for certification or accreditation.

Letters of Completion and the Certificate in American Genealogical Studies

Each student who successfully completes each course in the American Genealogical Studies series receives a letter of completion. Letters are mailed out once per month. If you complete the course by the 20th of the month, we mail your letter out at the end of that month. If you complete all four courses in the AGS series you will receive a NGS Certificate in American Genealogical Studies after your final, fourth letter of completion


Here is a link to the Continuing Genealogical Studies: FAQs. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator.

1  Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012).
2 Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickSheet: Citing Databases and Images, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012).