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Information at a glance - Excel


Among other methods of organization I use for records is a spreadsheet. There are a number of spreadsheet programs available or an old fashioned ledger can be used. I use this method in conjunction to my other documentation methods. It takes only a few moments once you have set it up with the columns and categories you need. It makes information portable, easy to share and I particularly like it for a quick reference for dates or records if I have a more complicated piece of research.

So how do I use it?


- To list records in order, what the title is and where they are maintained

- To record the citation method for the particular document source.

- To add notes to myself in the last column - this is particularly valuable if you come back to the research after a period of time.

- Making dates in the first column so I can add the information about the research subject and records or information. This forms a timeline. There are two advantages to this: It draws your attention to blanks spots in the records and it can save me countless hours researching the same online records when I know the Record Group that I have already spent many hours in or may contain more information I need to find.

- To color code items or groups of items within the organization of the spreadsheet.


Everyone has a method that works best for them - please share the methods that work for you in your research.




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Excel can be a very valuable tool. It's easy to learn, widely available, and readily accessible through different formts. Going back about 30 years, I used Excel (which was originally limited to about the same number of characters per cell as Twitter) to compile annotated chronologies. As discussed above, this format gave great flesibility in terms of sorting for sequence, specific events, and sources. Being limited in the number of characters also induced a discipline of writing clearly and succinctly, which increase the value of the entires. One such chronology got up to almost 8,000 entries and was an invaluable tool in writing a comprehensive history on a major topic.

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You make a great point about it forcing writing clearly and succinctly. I had never considered that before but it absolutely does.

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Convidado:
04 de out. de 2023

Going back

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