Genealogical documentation standards used by the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies (ACMS)

Adapted from an original article by James A Ayars, formerly genealogy coordinator of ACMS

The descendants of Leod have a long and interesting history. As time passes, however, that history becomes increasingly difficult to reconstruct. It is hoped that this Genealogy section of the website will assist the efforts of Clan Historians and Genealogical Researchers as they attempt to trace their various family lines, and to recover the stories of their past.

One of the pressing needs for the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies has been a standardised format for documenting the history and genealogy of the Clan. This document is an attempt to meet that need. It is hoped that every genealogical and historical researcher will abide by these standard forms for the preservation of the Clan’s history for future generations.


It is standard genealogical procedure to identify what kind of information is being documented, whether a birth, a death, a marriage, or a migration, etc. It may be any short word or phrase which accurately identifies the kind of event information documented in the reference. This identifier comes first in a documentation reference. It is sometimes preceded by an exclamation point, always CAPITALIZED, and always terminated with a COLON [:].



The exclamation point is an optional item. For those using genealogical software on a computer, the exclamation point marks the reference as something to be included whenever making a printout of an individual or group record, or when generating a GEDCOM transfer file. It permanently attaches the reference to the individual.

Reference format

It is important to be able to find the reference for future verification. A significant frustration of researchers is to find a conflict between pieces of data, and not to be able to find which one may be in error. This is just one of many reasons for documentation of genealogical or historical data. Mistakes are made every day, by even the most conscientious people. The primary goal is accuracy! This prevents sending hapless researchers traveling down cul-de-sacs or information trails that lead nowhere. Any reference must include as much information as needed to find the data again, if need be. The kinds of information a reference to a source should have are:

  1. Author of the source (if known).
  2. Title of article, if from a magazine or other serial publication.
  3. Title of the book, magazine, diary, letter, or written work.
  4. Publisher (if a published work).
  5. Place of Publication (if a published work).
  6. Year of Publication (in case there are other, later, possibly revised, editions)
  7. Page reference.
  8. Location of the source, in case it is rare or difficult to find.
  9. Optional comments about the nature or contents of the source which may be helpful to others in the future.

The typical format for a reference to a source of information looks like this:

Name of the Author, “Name of the Article”, TITLE OF THE PUBLICATION, Volume Information, Publisher Information, Place of Publication, Date of Publication, Page Reference. Comments


The format for documentation of genealogical or historical data is as follows:

!IDENTIFICATION OF TYPE OF SOURCE: Name of Author, “Title of Magazine Article”, TITLE OF PUBLICATION, Volume Information, Publisher, Place of Publication, Date of Publication, Page Reference. Comments

If any piece of information is missing from the source, such as the name of the author, it should be noted that it is missing.

Good luck in your research!