Monday, November 9, 2015

Yet another use for Excel

I LOVE MS Excel.  Actually, I love spreadsheets in general. It doesn’t have to be Excel specifically though I do think Excel is the best.

If you are on Facebook there is a group called Excel-ling Genealogists where you will see all kinds of great ideas on how to use spreadsheets to your advantage.  There are some sample files uploaded to this group that you will also have access to if you join.

I normally use spreadsheets to help me analysis data.  I can do multi-tiered sorts which helps me see patterns.  I also use a spreadsheet for my research log when I am working on a major case study/proof argument.  I recently came up with another spreadsheet idea that I thought I would pass on.

By now you should know that one of my priorities is being an ethical genealogist.  I love photos of grave markers so I love sites like Find A Grave.  When I see a photo of interest to me I ALWAYS ask permission from the photographer to download the photo.  For more info on that click HERE. When I send the email I ask about the specific photo but I also ask for blanket permission for any other photos that they took as well as permission to use any of the photos on the three blogs I write for if the need should arise.  I always assure them that I will give them full credit as the photographer.  I have never been turned out.  People are usually understanding and cooperative when you are respectful and acknowledge them.

I used to keep a simple list of these people in Evernote but I found that as the list got longer it was harder for me to see if I already had permission from someone when I found a photo I needed.  I decided that this would be the sort of thing that would be better in a spreadsheet.  I don’t want to screenshot my actual spreadsheet because it contains the names of living people (again, an ethics thing) so took a screenshot of a pretend one.  I keep the list sorted in alphabetical order so that it is easier for me to see people.  If the person operates under a nickname I can quickly change the sort.  My real list is quite a bit longer than this one because I have been snagging photos from Find A Grave for over six years.



Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


  1. Excel is very powerful, there are lots of tips and tricks you may not know about

  2. What a great idea. This would also work for keeping track of correspondence on different lines.

  3. Michèle, I enjoy reading your blog. What other blogs do you write? Are they public? Thanks.

    1. I write for Legacy News and I write for The National Institute for Genealogical Studies blog

  4. I use Outlook for the same type of info you use Excel for. And I get the versatility of the Contacts list, and all the info it can store too. And it also can be exported out in several different formats if needed. I simply create a new Contacts list or Address book, and Call it "Permissions" or something like that, so that each contact I add to it will be kept separate from my "normal" friends and colleagues. Then I have the option of emailing them if needed right from within Outlook, and it's all there at my fingertips. It's a great tool that you may not have thought of....

  5. Michele,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  6. What a wonderful idea! I've been trying to figure out a way to keep track of my 'permissions.' Thanks!