Minnesota Genealogical Society

1385 Mendota Heights Road, Suite 100
Mendota Heights, MN  55120-1367
(651) 330-9312 • info@mngs.org

Minnesota Genealogist

Writer guidelines

Types of articles considered for publication in Minnesota Genealogist:
  • Research reports – findings of genealogical research. Articles with Upper Midwest connections are preferred, but others will be considered. Preferred length: 2,000 to 5,000 words.
  • Teaching articles – methods used to solve a genealogical problem. These articles should demonstrate the path of discovery, how accumulated information  led to a conclusion. Preferred length: 1,000 to 3,000 words.
  • Reviews – genealogy books, blogs, or research guides published within the past year, and new or under-utilized genealogical sources. Preferred length: 500 to 1,200 words.
  • Family memoirs – Minnesota ancestors’ interesting life stories. Preferred length: 750 to 2,000 words.

Submission instructions

Email digital files to journal@mngs.org. Please follow these instructions. 

  • Write using a word-processing program that produces files readable in Microsoft Word. Files in .doc or .docx format are preferred.
  • Use 11 or 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, single line-spacing, double-space between paragraphs.
  • Use bold-face section or paragraph headings to help your reader follow the flow of your article.
  • Avoid other unnecessary formatting such as boldface and multiple fonts. (The editors will work with you to put your article into a format suitable for layout).
  • Use footnotes, not endnotes, to cite sources for all facts that are not general knowledge. In Word, use the “insert footnote” feature to create and automatically number citations. Use numbers, not letters or Roman numerals. Place footnote numbers at the end of the sentence.
  • Submit images, tables, or maps as separate files. Give each image file a name such as “Smith Image 1.” Indicate approximately where in your text these files should be placed with suggested captions for each: “Insert Image 1 – Stoney Creek School, ca. 1908.”
  • Include your full name, postal address, phone number, email address, and a brief biography (50 to 75 words).

Agreements and editing

If your article is accepted for publication, you will be asked to sign a writer's agreement giving MGS an exclusive one-year right to publish your article. You will retain copyright ownership.

All articles will be edited for style and length. The editing process includes four steps:

  1. The Managing Editor reviews submitted articles to determine if the content is suitable for Minnesota Genealogist.  Any article may be rejected. At this time, the Managing Editor may suggest that an author make revisions, including adjusting the length of the article, rearranging content, or substantiating and documenting facts. The Managing Editor will usually let authors know the status of their article within 60 days of submission.
  2. When the Managing Editor is satisfied that an article is in reasonable shape structurally, he or she will send the article to a copy editor for editing. The copy editor will do a careful edit to make the article read smoothly. This editing may include not only the correction of spelling and grammatical errors but also restructuring sentences or moving paragraphs. The goal is to make the article easy for readers to read, thereby giving readers an enjoyable reading experience and making the author look good.
  3. The Managing Editor will review all edits and make final decisions about copy.
  4. The article will be returned to the author for final review. It is the author's article. The edited article may not be published without the author's permission, but Minnesota Genealogist does not guarantee publication of the article if an author rejects suggested edits. At this time, a contract that protects the author's copyright and grants Minnesota Genealogist a license to publish will be sent to the author. The author is asked to review the article and return the contract within 72 hours.

Tips for writers

We do not expect our authors to be professional writers. The editors collaborate with authors to polish their articles so they will be easy for readers to read and understand.

Research reports, teaching articles, and reviews require a more formal technical style of writing, usually in third-person voice. Memoirs, personal essays, and travel stories may be more casual and written in first-person voice.

Avoid first-person “travelogue” narration: “After I saw the death certificate, I contacted the cemetery…” Tell the reader what you found, not the order in which you found it.

Minnesota Genealogist uses the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, as the arbiter on matters of punctuation, grammar, and usage. Writers are encouraged to consider the following tips for good writing.

  • Spelling: Spell-check your document.
  • Citations: Anything not general knowledge should have a source footnote. Provide enough detailed information that readers can evaluate the source’s credibility and find the source for themselves. (Refer to Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained.) Citations are an art, not a science – variations in format are permissible, but citations should be consistently formatted throughout your article.
  • Verbs: Verbs should match subjects in tense, person, and number. (Joe lived in St. Paul in 1900. The 1900 federal census shows Joe lived in St. Paul.)
  • Avoid passive voice: Use sentences in which a subject is active. (“The horse kicked the dog” is better than “The dog was kicked by the horse.”)
  • Numbers: Spell out numbers under 10. Consult the Chicago Manual of Style for details.
  • Dates: Unless directly quoting another document, use the standard genealogical format: 3 June 2006.
  • Abbreviations: Do not use abbreviations such as MN, Oct., Co., Twp. (US and USS Shipname are exceptions.) Abbreviations such as Minn. or Wisc. are acceptable in footnotes.
  • Italicize titles of publications, including websites: Ancestry (not Ancestry.com), FamilySearch, Find A Grave.

Agreements and Editing

All articles will be edited for style and length. The editing process includes these steps:

  • The Managing Editors review submissions to determine if the content is suitable for Minnesota Genealogist. The editor may suggest revisions: including change of “voice” from first-person to third-person, editing to reduce length or rearrange content for ease of reading, or insertion or modification of footnotes. The Managing Editors aim to inform authors of their article’s status within 60 days of submission. If you do not hear from an editor within two months, feel free to contact us.
  • A Managing Editor will work with the author to make the article read well. This may include spelling, grammar, and punctuation corrections, but also suggestions for restructuring sentences or moving paragraphs. The process may require several exchanges of drafts between the author and editor.
  • The article will be returned to the author for final review and permission to publish. However, Minnesota Genealogist does not guarantee publication of the article if an author rejects suggested edits. Once the final draft is approved by the author, a letter of agreement protecting the author's copyright and granting Minnesota Genealogist license to publish will be sent to the author. The author is asked to review the agreement and return it within 72 hours.
  • Authors will receive one complimentary copy of the issue in which their article appears in addition to their member copy, if the author is a current MGS member. Authors are not required to be MGS members.

Back Issues

The four most recent issues are only available to MGS members to view or downloadLimited paper copies are available for purchase from the MGS Store.

PLEASE NOTE: These digital files have been scanned from the original print issues. Some files quite large, averaging about 40 MB. They may load slowly for users without high speed internet. 

To see all the issues below, scroll using your mouse. 

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