Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Genealogy Hack: Sourcing Your Scans

Michael John Neill has written several times this week about recording the sources of documents that have been photocopied (or printed from microfilm) and subsequently scanned. He makes three good suggestions:

  1. Write the source on the original before scanning (in black, not green ink).
  2. Use photoediting software to type the source onto the scanned image.
  3. Include the source info in the image's file name.
Probably the best option is 1 or 2 and 3. File names are not always included with printouts, so that is a limitation of only using option three. Including the source in the file name (along with the name of the person on the scan), makes it easier to search the hard drive or media for specific words or phrases.
Me, I usually do both 1 and 3. You might also consider treating your scans like photographs and adding the source info as metadata. Metadata is embedded in the image file, and can be viewed using a variety of applications. For how-tos and caveats, see these articles:


Many photo editing applications - like Photoshop Elements or iPhoto - include the ability to save metadata with your images. PDF creation software does also - the Page Info command or something similar. Check our your existing software's capabilities - it's easier to learn a new command than a new application.


Adobe Elements and MediaDex, both IPTC writing software, also have extensive search capabilities. To add source info to the file-name would be cumbersome. That's the idea of having IPTC-info embedded. Not all graphics software is up-to-speed with IPTC. FastStone, for instance, is not. Smaller programs, such as StudioLine and XnView, can handle it to some extent.


Can be cumbersome, but not necessarily. I've never had a problem including abbreviated source info in a file name.

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