Archive for May, 2014

May 14th, 2014

Speed Up Your Research with These Time-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Genealogy research can be time consuming, which can be financially draining as well. Speeding up research without sacrificing accuracy is not always easy, but there is one way it can be done with online research. Many of us are so content clicking away with our mouse that we don’t even consider keyboard shortcuts. They are called shortcuts for a reason, and like any short cut, they are a shorter way to reach a foal. Using the following five keyboard options may take some practice to master, but once you do you can save lots of valuable time and money during your online research.

Spacebar Scrolling
Most of us are happy to use the up and down arrows that allow us to scroll through a webpage, as the up and down arrows on a keyboard are not that conveniently located. One alternative method is so easy I am amazed it took me so long to use it. To scroll down a page you simply hold the Spacebar down .To scroll up, press Sift and tap the Spacebar. This saves lots of time, as you don’t have to take your hand off the keyboard. Give it a try!

Control Key Zooming
How often do you find yourself squinting at a map, image document, or historical photograph that you come across online? Believe it or not there is a simple shortcut solution that can help you to quickly zoom in and out of an image so that it is the optimal size for your viewing.

You simple hold the Control (Ctrl) key while tapping the Plus (+) or Minus (-) key. You can do this for an entire webpage to make the fonts bigger or smaller as well. If you are using a Mac, the Command (Cmd) key combined with the Plus and Minus keys does the same

If you want to return the page to its original size, simply substitute the Zero (0) key for the Plus or Minus on both PC and Mac.

Tip: On a laptop keyboard, you most likely don’t need to hold the Shift key to access the Minus and Plus keys when performing this shortcut.

Ctrl F for Find
If you are searching for a particular word on a website that contains lots of text, it can be time consuming reading or scanning through it all to find the word or name you’re looking for. Many use the find feature located in the toolbar of most browsers, however a simple keyboard shortcut is to press the Ctrl (Ctrl) key on a PC or the Command (Cmd) on a Mac and hold down the F key. This will bring up the Search Bar, and you can simply type in the word you are looking for.

Alt V for Full Screen Viewing
This feature can vary between browsers, but it is possible to sometimes temporarily eliminate the Search Bar or Menu in order to view a large image that doesn’t completely fit on the screen. You can suppress the Alt tab on a PC while pressing the V or F key (depending on the browser) or Control and Command and T on a Mac.

Tip: On a PC you can sometimes use the F11 key, depending on whether the browser you’re using supports that option. To get out of Full Screen mode simply press the Escape (Esc) key.

To Reopen a Webpage
When a webpage closes accidently when you are in the middle of your research, it can be quite irritating. Most of all, having to then go into your history to search for it and reopen it from there can be time consuming. Depending on the browser you’re using, you may be able to quickly reopen the page by using Ctrl and Shift and T on a PC, and Command and Shift and T on a Mac.

There are literally hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to speed up your online experience. The above are simple ones that you may find quite useful on a daily basis. If you’d like to learn more about keyboard shortcuts that you can utilize, the links below will take you to a comprehensive listing for each of the corresponding browsers.

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May 7th, 2014

The Benefits of Recording a Genealogy Research Journal

Taking notes about the research you perform on your ancestors can read great genealogical rewards. Not only does it serve as a backup for your memory, but it can be used as a map for future research. For a journal to serve as an effective research tool however, you need to records both positive and negative results. The will save you time and energy in future projects, as the positive entries will help you to fond records faster, while the negative will save you from repeating previous mistakes, or consulting records where your ancestors can’t be found.

How to Organize Your Research Journal
You’ll get the best results from using a research journal if you keep it organized in a simple, straight-forward manner. A good layout that generally works well is to use columns with the headings)

  • Date Searched
  • Records Sought
  • Name Variations Searched
  • Repository Searched
  • Description and Source Citation
  • Results

Let’s go over each heading briefly to better understand the benefits of recording such data, and the best way to enter it into your journal.

Date Searched

The immediate benefit of imputing the date is obvious, but an additional benefit is that if the records get updated, you will know if you have searched the most recent, or if you can look for new results in an updated database.

Records Sought
Again it’s obvious why you would record the types of ancestry record you searched in. This helps to avoid wasting time with duplicate searches in databases you have already consulted, but also narrows the field of possible records still to be searched.

Name Variations
Many researchers overlook this very important entry. There are so many spelling variations of both forenames and surnames, especially in older records, that it is critical you record each variation you use. Also record the various methods you used during your searches. For example, did you search for first name or last name only, or for results in a particular city, county, state, or overseas locations? This listing can also serve as a name variation database and search strategy for when you search other records in the future.

Repository Searched
Indicating where the records were found whether it is at a brick-and-mortar archive or library, or an online database, allows you to quickly visit that source if you seek similar r records in the future. Make sure you indicate whether the resource was online, on microfilm, in a book, or other resource. Be as specific as you can to make it as easy as possible to revisit that repository and the records you found there.

Source Citation
This should list a description of the records you found in the Records Sought column and all of the information you found in them, as well as the sources of that information, be they primary or secondary. You can simply list citations such as the microfilm number or book title and author, or you could write about it, describing everything in a description field.

Remember, record both positive and negative results for every search you conduct. This helps you to quickly sort out which records are useful for your family and which are not. Having this information readily available allows you to efficiently plan research strategies, speeding up results and helping you to avoid genealogical roadblocks.

A genealogy research journal allows you to quickly see where you are in your research, allowing you to pick up exactly where you left off if you need to stop for awhile. They are a great tool which you can refine to suit your own particular research model over time, and you can even compile one journal per ancestor. A final bonus is that these journals can also serve as a guide to any family members who may continue your research in the future.

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