TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2011-02 > 1297111357
From: "Michael Hait" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] census citation help
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 15:42:37 -0500
I re-read #5 after I sent that last email, and will partially concede. #5
definitely corresponds directly with what I meant. However, I believe that
#2 applies almost equally (though not as explicitly). Both (and in fact all
5) of these express a single underlying principle, not 5 unrelated
When writing a normal sentence, there are two reasons that a semi-colon
would be used: (1) to separate complex items in a list (usually where commas
are used within each item); and (2) to separate individual related
sentence/clauses, where full sentence stops (periods) between them would not
These are the same reasons that a semi-colon would be used in a citation. In
my mind the second case would apply to the census citation. The citation has
three separate "clauses."
1. The citation of the census record.
2. The citation of Ancestry.com's digital images. This citation equates to
the citation for a book: no author, title (Ancestry.com), publication
location (URL), publishing company (not necessary, "WWW" implied),
publication date (date of access), page number (unnecessary here because the
"page number" that applies is the census record already cited).
3. The citation of the source of the image.
This is why, at least in my mind, a comma would not be appropriate in this
scenario. A comma would indicate that the source was equivalent to a page
number in the context of the publication citation. This would not be
appropriate at all in this context. Instead, this part of the citation
should be considered a separate "clause," a note about the publication, and
thus separated by a semicolon from the other elements of the citation.
I believe that "complexity" in EE's terminology does not refer to "how hard
it is," but rather the number of elements involved in the citation. I would
consider a census citation as a "complex" citation because it contains two
full, independent citations--the census record itself and the Ancestry
digital image of the same.
If we were citing a simple book of abstracts, a comma may be more
appropriate, because this is *not* a complex citation. You would simply cite
the book in the standard format we learned in high school or college, and
add a short note mentioning the original source as cited by the book,
following the page number. Here a comma would be an option (though I would
still probably use a semicolon myself).
Of course, if we're lucky, EE's author will weigh in with her thoughts
behind what she intended with the passage... ;)