Skip to Main Content

Births, deaths and marriages: Tips

This State Library of South Australia guide includes information on cemeteries, church records, burials and probate (wills). Information for other states is also included.

Documenting information


  • Record given names first, followed by surname.
  • Write the surname in capital letters to avoid confusion especially if the surname can also be a given name e.g. James PAUL.
  • Use the maiden name when recording a female's name.
  • Underline unusual names or spelling to indicate they have been recorded accurately as in Denis (an unusual spelling).
  • Do not ignore possible information because the name is not spelt exactly how yours is spelt - you will find name variations.


  • Record dates in the following order: day, month, year (as in 13 March 1888).
  • Write the year in full because 72 could be 1972, 1872 or even 1572 .
  • Do not use a number for the month, e.g. 6/11/1895, as some people write the month first, others write the day first.
  • Double-check that you have recorded the dates correctly.


  • There may be multiple places with the same name so, when recording a place, write the city or town first followed by county and then country.
  • Use the Chapman country and county codes. These are standard three character abbreviations e.g. CHS for Cheshire.


  • Proof-read carefully to ensure accuracy.
  • Copy information exactly as it is in the original. Unfortunately, some originals can be difficult to decipher due to old handwriting styles or faded print. Some copied material may not be accurate, so always try to check the original.