Questions Regarding Citations in the Fourth Edition


I’ve been waiting for Evidence Explained, Fourth Edition, with great anticipation.  It’s important to me to correctly cite my family history. Thank you for this wonderful edition!  

I have a couple questions so far:

  1. Template 13, page 132, layer 2, uses “U.S. Federal Census Collection” as the title of the Ancestry database in the First Reference Note.  However, on page 247, the same example uses “1850 United States Federal Census” as the title of the database.  Is the latter correct in listing the year?  
  1. On page 245 there’s discussion of citing the URL in an example of an online image of an 1820 U.S. Census. It says the “First Reference Note may cite the exact URL for that one image, or it may cite the URL for the collection title and then cite the path and waypoints.”  In the First Reference Note example, it appears that a truncated URL was cited?  The document could be found with the truncated URL.  Is it acceptable to use a truncated URL rather than the exact URL? 

Thanks again. 

Submitted byEEon Tue, 02/27/2024 - 10:01

Hello, Chickadee22. The basic rule for citation is this: We cite what we use. If we are using a database (or images provided within a database), we cite the title that appears on that database we used.  We don’t just copy wording that appears elsewhere as an example for that type of source.

This rule holds because, among other things, websites complicate things by changing their database titles periodically (ergo, something that’s correct at the time a guidebook went to press may not be correct when the book rolls off the press—or at some future date) or by offering the same material under different database titles.

In this case, at Ancestry the 1850 census images are accessible through at least two databases with similar names. One includes the year, the other does not. 

As cited on Template 13 (a generic template for all censuses, regardless of year):


As cited in the 1850 example at EE4 7.21 (p. 247):





With regard to truncated URLs, see the passage below from 2.35.  Similar advice appears in prior editions also.

Also, my apologies for not responding sooner. Surgery intervened.


Submitted byChickadee22on Tue, 02/27/2024 - 11:12

Thank you so much for the detailed explanations! 

I located the “U.S. Federal Census Collection” search form in Ancestry and now can see why that database title is used in Template 13, as opposed to the database title (“1850 United States Federal Census”) search form used in the first reference note on page 247.  A good lesson learned.

Another good lesson learned is to test truncated URLs.

I hope you had successful surgery and recovery.  Stay well!