Project 5 Goals:  1: Learn about Indexing   2: Get Started   3: Set Goals   4: Improve Skills   5: Read Difficult Handwriting   6: O-Become an Arbitrator   7: O-Ancestry World Archives   8: O-App Gallery  

Project 5: Indexing

Create indexes for records to help researchers find what they need.

Tracker:   Online  or  Word  


Goal 1: Learn what indexing is and why it's essential for research. Vault


    Indexing, which is the process of providing search information for record collections, has become a worldwide effort. We should all know how indexing accelerates family history work and how we can take part.


    A Learn about the purpose of indexing.

    1. To learn more about the purpose of indexing, watch the video titled "Indexing Makes Records Searchable Online" on the main FamilySearch Indexing page (halfway down the screen).
    2. Learn more about what's going on with indexing in the FamilySearch Indexing Blog and this FamilySearch blog:
      FS—Indexing is More Important Now than Ever

Goal 2: Get started with indexing.

Prepare to be a productive and effective indexer.


A Get set up for indexing.

  1. Follow the steps at the beginning of this article to set up indexing on your computer.
    FS—Getting Started
  2. Learn more about how to index by watching this video.
    FS—Indexing Quick Start—5:30

Instructor Tips

B Learn the basics of how to index records.

  1. Go through the FamilySearch Indexing lesson.
  2. Take a test drive of the indexing process.
  3. Learn the guidelines that all indexers should follow, in these articles.
    FS—Basic Indexing Guidelines
    | RIV—Basic Indexing Guidelines

Instructor Tips

Goal 3: Set goals and make progress with indexing batches.

Contribute to the worldwide indexing effort, making more record indexes available to researchers.


A Identify the kinds of batches you want to work on.

  1. In the available batches list, look for one marked as Beginning.
  2. Open the batch and study it to see if you would feel comfortable indexing it. If so, start indexing the batch; if not, close the batch and mark it as Return so other indexers can work on it.
  3. Open other batches to see what kinds of records you would enjoy indexing, and make note of them for future reference. Remember that over time, some batches will disappear from the list and others will be added.

B Complete an indexing batch.

  1. Use the Help fields as you index the header and rows of the indexing batch.
  2. Finish the batch and submit it.

C Set your indexing goals and achieve them.

  1. Decide how much time you have available for indexing records each week.
  2. As you index, note the total number of records completed, especially for one week's time. Then try to meet or surpass that number each week, depending on the difficulty of the batches you are working with.

Goal 4: Improve your basic indexing skills. Vault

When you master a few essential indexing techniques, your work will go faster and smoother.


A Work on basic indexing techniques.

Here are some resources to help you improve indexing skills:

  1. Indexing Rollover Activity—Learn about rolling over index pages to see available help.
  2. Indicating the Image Type
  3. Adding Records
  4. Indexing Multiple Images
  5. Indexing an Image with Multiple Records
  6. Adjusting Highlights
  7. Viewing Previous and Next Pages
  8. Indexing a Census Batch
  9. Sharing a Batch
  10. Indexing Immigration and Naturalization Records
  11. Indexing Obituaries   LANG:   DE   ES   FR   IT   PT   JA  

Instructor Tips

B (Optional) Get help with your indexing questions.

  1. Access this FamilySearch link for answers to your indexing questions.

C(Optional) Do indexing for records in other languages.

If you are skilled in an additional language, there are resources available to help you start indexing.

  1. Access the Handwriting Helps page on FamilySearch.
  2. In the Choose a Language drop-down list (upper-left), select the language you're interested in. The example above shows a French language selection.
  3. Study the Alphabet section on the right.
  4. To learn more about characters in the language, visit the Handwriting Helps links on the left side.
  5. For indexing tips and guidelines on indexing records in your selected language, visit the Language Helps links on the left side.

Goal 5: Improve your ability to read difficult handwriting. Vault

Hard-to-read handwriting is a fact of life for older records. Being able to better read it will help you make more progress with original research as well indexing records.


ALearn the basics of deciphering handwriting.

  1. Get a quick reference for interpreting handwritten letters in various languages.
    FS—Handwriting Helps
  2. Study this article to learn basic skills that help you with handwritten records.
    FS—United States Handwriting

Instructor Tips

B Learn more techniques for difficult handwriting.

  1. Read this article to increase your understanding of old handwriting.
    RIV—Paleography (Old Handwriting)
  2. Use the online tutorials from the British National Archives, for handwriting from 1500-1800.
  3. Use the online tutorials for Latin from the British National Archives.

C (Optional) Get help with deciphering old or difficult handwriting.

  1. Get free help with handwriting deciphering from members of the RootsChat forum.

D Learn about scripts and paleography (the study of old handwriting).

  1. Go to the Script Tutorial site for Indexers at Brigham Young University.
  2. To learn more about paleography in general, scroll down and click the link on the left.
  3. To learn more about paleography for a specific language, scroll down and click a link on the right to choose English, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Goal 6: (Optional) Become an arbitrator for indexing.

When batches of indexed records are submitted to FamilySearch, arbiters review the batches to ensure quality. You can make a difference by volunteering and being trained as an indexing arbiter.


A Understand the basics of record arbitration.

  1. Read this article to learn the process for becoming an indexing arbitrator.
    FS—How to Become an Arbitrator
  2. Complete the Arbitration tutorial online.
    FS—Arbitration Tutorial
  3. Learn more about arbitration in this FamilySearch blog article.
    FS—Straight Talk about Arbitration

B Volunteer as an indexing arbitrator.

  1. Contact your group administrator, stake indexing director, or FamilySearch Support as explained in this article.
    FS—How to Become an Arbitrator
  2. Follow the "Instructions for New Arbitrators" in the above article.

Goal 7: (Optional) Participate in the Ancestry World Archives Project, or other indexing projects.

Ancestry has a worldwide archiving project that provides indexes for record collections.

A Get started with the World Archives Project.

  1. Read the getting Started Guide.
    AC—World Archiving—Getting Started
  2. Download the keying tool for PC or for Mac.

B Do record keying for projects.

  1. Watch the keying videos from Ancestry.
  2. Use other resources available on this page.

C Become an arbitrator for the World Archives Project.

  1. See this Ancestry web page for steps on how to become an arbitrator (a person who reviews and approves collections of keyed records).

D Participate in the Canadian Census Indexing Project.

  1. See the Automated Genealogy web page for details and instructions.

Goal 8: (Optional) Use apps from the FamilySearch App Gallery to assist with indexing.

Apps, for Apple, Android, or Web, can help you view and use Family Tree information.


A Explore apps in the Gallery.