MSOG, Inc.
PO Box 215
Ashland, MA 01721-0215

MASSOG Writing Guidelines

Beginning writing or editing: All articles should be written in Register style in Times New Roman.
Check the MSOG website for submission guidelines.
  • To write up your family in what we call “Register style,” download the template in the Register section at (which is under the NEWS menu on the main page). You do not need to be a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Read carefully and follow the instructions. This template will provide all of the styles used in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register using Microsoft Word. The article and template also offer suggestions for shortcuts, footnotes, and other useful tips.
  • If you have already written an article or are editing someone else’s article, select the whole article, and apply the “Normal” style, the style that MS Word presents when you open a new document. Highlight and select the whole article (F8 and Control-Shift-End, or command-A on a Mac). Copy it (Control-C, or command-C on a Mac).
  • Then open the blank template you will have saved and paste the whole document into it. Work your way through the document, applying the appropriate styles to each paragraph, beginning with the title (which is a paragraph). You may need to turn on “show/hide” in order to see what the author has done. Save the document under a new name.
  • The “Kids” style seems to be difficult to use. Turn on show/hide. Put a tab at the beginning of the line. You won’t see it! Add the Roman numeral and tab again. Both tabs will appear.
  • There are other helps available in that section of For example, see “Writing a Family Sketch in Register style” by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, cg, fasg. Another useful article is “Writing Register Style Using Newer Versions of Word,” available under the MASSOG submission guidelines at
•     One cardinal rule: Every fact or statement should be supported by a citation to a valid source; i.e., not somebody’s transient website or something like the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The source of the latter can usually be identified if it is “community contributed.”
Some of the finer points of editing:
  • Commas and periods should come before a closing quote, even if there wasn’t one in the text (Chicago Manual of Style [CMS], 6.8). And they should come before a footnote reference number. Semicolons go outside the quote.
  • Remove double and triple spaces using search and replace.
  • Use abbreviations only in the children’s section for months and states of more than five letters. Follow abbreviations with a period.
  • We have decided to spell out born, baptized, died, buried, and married in the children’s section.
  • Use small caps for the names of husband and wife and children in a genealogical summary. (Select the name, go to Font, and select “small caps” or hold down Alt and type O F M). You can boldface these names.
  • Use italics for the names of grandchildren and their spouses.
  • In the children’s paragraphs, use a semicolon after the birth and baptism, after the death and burial of the child. But use only commas between that data for the child’s spouse. (Yes, that’s weird.)
  • Book titles and ships’ names should be italicized—e.g., Queen Mary.
  • Lineage lines (ancestry in parentheses following a subject’s name) should be in italics. However, the superscript numbers with these names (if present) should be in roman type, not italic.
  • When there’s more than one element in a place name, each should be followed by a comma when the sentence continues (CMS, 6.47).
  • Plural words should not have an apostrophe before the “s.” This is a common error. So it’s 1700s, not 1700’s (CMS, 7:15).
  • When writing a date with the day first, e.g., 15 January 1752, do not use a comma (CMS 6.46).
  • Sic is always italicized. It should be in brackets [which are not italicized] (CMS 11.69) unless you are talking about it as a word (as at the beginning of this sentence).
The title of the article is centered using 14-point type, in bold letters, and it should include the family surname(s), and important place (town/city, county, state) names.
Roger and Kathrine (Jones) Smith,
of Springfield, Massachusetts, both from London, England
Submitter’s Name in italics
The main text is set in 12-point type, single spaced, with justified text.
·       The first paragraph of an article should be set as Normal, others in Body Text Indent.
·       The first paragraph of a Genealogical Summary section should be set as Normal, others in Body Text Indent. Register style should be used in genealogical summaries.
·       The text should be single spaced unless a blank line seems necessary between sections.
·       No abbreviations unless part of a quote. Nowhere are postal abbreviations (MA, NH) used, unless part of a postal address.
·       When first mentioned in a Genealogical Summary, the subject person’s full given name will be in bold Small Caps, as well as the name(s) of that person’s spouse(s).
·       Use automatic footnotes (under “insert” in Word). The editors will add brackets around the reference numbers.
·       When entering a quote, “it should be entered exactly as written but with quotation marks.” If it is a paragraph, apply the Quotation style for a block quotation (and omit the quotation marks).
Children’s text (under “Kids” in Register Style) will be in 11-point type. This is automatic when using the Register template. Use tabs before and after the child’s number (lowercase Roman numerals followed by periods).
·       Give the child’s full name, if known, in lightface Small Caps. Spouses also get small caps.
·       Spell out the words born (birth), baptized, married, died (death), buried.
·       Spell out names of months with five letters or less. Longer month names are abbreviated with three letters, except Sept.
·       Abbreviate state names of more than five letters; no postal abbreviations.
Grandchildren’s text (under “Grandkids” in Register Style, following the “Grandkids Intro”):
·       Grandchildren’s text should be the same as children except further indented and preceded with Arabic numerals: 1, 2, 3, etc.
·       Grandchildren’s names should be italicized. Spouses also get italics.
·       Titles should be exact but may be shortened if very long. Italics should be used only for titles of published materials, including titles of databases online. Titles of records like probate, deeds, etc., do not need quotation marks—e.g., Suffolk County Deeds.
·       State names should be abbreviated in the publication information but are not needed for major cities. (Examples: Boston [no state needed]; Norwood, Mass. [include state abbreviation]) Postal abbreviations should be used only in a postal address.
·       Spell out names of months and states; no abbreviations in the footnotes except in publication information. Full months for dates of newspapers.
·       For citation format see under “Writing and Publishing Your Family History,” which is under the LEARN menu on the main page.
·       Also consult Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff, cg, fasg, Guide to Genealogical Writing (Boston: NEHGS, 2014), pp. 164–70.