Scattered Leaves Press

Cover Draft #03-68 Corrected for DMT  16Feb2016   front cover JPEG FRAMED  01Mar2016 copy
Tell It Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief, 2016, 142 pp., $15 plus shipping

Does the thought of writing your family history send you straight back to bed to hide under the covers? You’re not alone. Most family historians agree that they enjoy research the most. What if there was an easier, more manageable way to share your family history, while telling the life stories of your ancestors in an interesting and factual way? There is.

Tell It Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief comes to the rescue, guiding and inspiring you to craft family history essays—the nonfiction version of the short story.Tell It Short gives those interested in writing their family history an alternative to the all-encompassing book by exploring the creative nonfiction essay form. This guide will show you how to share the stories of your ancestors’ lives in a completely factual yet compelling manner. You will learn about

  • key elements of effective nonfiction storytelling
  • ways to put ancestors into historical context without fictionalizing
  • methods for using appropriate speculation
  • several categories of family history essays: memoir, personal, humor, travel, food, and literary journalism
  • strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading

Tell is Short contains helpful instruction, examples, and ten sample family history essays by Dinty W. Moore, Rebecca McClanahan, Sonja Livingston, and more. This guide will help you take your family history writing beyond the traditional begats into short works your family will enjoy reading.

Review: Tell It Short — A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

Betterway Genealogy Books

The Elements of Genealogical Style: A Simplified Style and Citation Manual for Writers of Genealogies and Family Histories, 2017, 46 pp., $5. Ebook as a PDF will be emailed to you within 24 hours after purchase.

Table of Contents


How to Use This Manual

Part I: Style Guide  


Relationships and Proper Nouns





  1. Commas
  2. Quotation Marks
  3. Apostrophes
  4. Hyphens and Dashes
  5. Semicolons
  6. Colons
  7. Brackets
  8. Ellipses

Additional Styles

Specific Words


Poor Word Choices

Verb Tense

Passive Voice and Use of First Person

Quoting and Block Quotes

Bulleted and Numbered Lists


Part II: Citation Guide  

Footnotes or Endnotes?

Why Do I Need a Bibliography?


  1. Book by One Author
  2. Book by Two Authors
  3. Book by Multiple Authors
  4. Book with No Author
  5. Online Books


  1. Article in Print
  2. Article Online
  3. Article No Author

Record Sources

  1. Censuses
  2. Cemetery Records and Tombstones
  3. City Directories
  4. Land Records/Deeds
  5. Military Records and Pensions
  6. Newspaper Articles
  7. Obituaries and Death Notices
  8. Online Databases without Images
  9. Passenger Arrival Lists
  10. Personal Knowledge, E-mails, Letters, Oral Histories
  11. Vital Records
  12. Wills and Probate


A: Sample Notes

B: Sample Bibliography

C: Proofreading Checklist

D: Numbering Systems, Creating a Style for Children Listings, and Sample Genealogy

E: Elements of a Formal Essay

F: Genealogical Case Study/Proof Argument Outline

G: Elements of a Research Report


Guide to Genealogical Writing, by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff, 2014, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 195 pp., $19.95 plus shipping.


Using examples from NEHGS’s award-winning publications, Stratton and Hoff show you how to write your genealogy clearly and accurately—from building a genealogical sketch to adding images to indexing. The book also deals with how to include adopted children and stepchildren, aspects of double dating, and other issues faced by genealogical writers. 

Coming Soon!

  • Inheriting the Gordon Hips, a collection of humorous essays by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack