How to Organize your Genealogy Files

When designing an organization system, it is important to find a system that works well for you. This is a system we have used for many years and it is fast and efficient for saving everything. We have spoken with other professional researchers who use a similar system.


  • Within 4 quick clicks you can find any document on any person.

  • When sharing research, it is easy to send the entire surname folder or just an individual's folder.

  • By naming each file as shown below, the individual files are listed in order, like a timeline, to provide an easy overview.

Step 1:

  • Create an alphabetical folder for each letter you will need.

  • Create a surname folder for each surname.

  • Create an individual folder for each person, which includes their birth and death dates, if possible.

  • Females have their own individual folder, listed under their maiden name​.

  • If you have a marriage certificate or a census record, file a copy under each person listed in the document.

  • If you have a lot of photos on an ancestor, create a folder called "Photos" in the individual's folder.

Step 2:

  • Label each individual file as follows:

  • Surname, First Name (Birth Year) Year of Event, Event Name.

  • If you want a file to stay at the top of the directory, begin the file name with a "1-

The Final View


  • Create additional folders, such as "_Localities" or "_Conferences" or whatever else you need.

  • The underscore "_" puts the file at the top of your directory.

  • This digital organization system can be used for your paper files by utilizing binders for each surname, or if needed, for each individual.


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