Magna Carta Project Checklist

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Before starting

1. Post a comment to the profile so that profile managers and visitors to the profile know that it’s being developed as part of a trail identified by the Magna Carta Project. Wait at least 24 hours unless the Magna Carta Project is the sole manager.
2. Update relevant pre or post 1500 Team spreadsheet to let everyone know you’re working on the profile.
3. Check that the Project is one of the managers of the profile, if not, inform a project leader.
  • Check for any Comments at the bottom of the profile.
  • Check if there were any G2G discussions about the profile (top right corner of the profile).
  • Read the Magna Carta Project section at the bottom of the page to see if there are any issues to be addressed.
  • Read the biography as is currently. Check for plagiarism and/or copy/pasting against (for example) Wikipedia by copying/pasting a sentence or two of the biography into a Google search: this will sometimes confirm that the text has been copied/pasted from another site. Note: copying/pasting large chunks of text is not acceptable even if the website is acknowledged as a source. Quotes of a sentence or two (maximum) must be within quotation marks and the source cited in an inline reference. The Magna Carta Project relies heavily on Richardson's information, but copying in the entire entry for a person is not appropriate. For WikiTree's guidelines regarding this, please see Help:Copying_Text.


Please do not edit the Magna Carta Project section on profiles unless you are a member of the Project leadership team.

1. Duplicate profiles searched for/merged (or pending).[1]
2. Suggestions resolved (click “Suggestions” in the drop-down menu under the WikiTree ID in the mini-menu at upper right of profile page).
3. Ensure elements are in the correct order, as outlined below. Headings are in accordance with WikiTree guidelines[2] and 3rd-level heading "Magna Carta Project" has been added under Acknowledgements:[3]
{{Research Note Boxes}}
{{Project Boxes}} [NOTE: one of the MCP Project Boxes must be present]
== Biography ==
{{Profile Stickers}}
== Research Notes == [if needed]
== Sources ==
<references />
See also:
== Acknowledgements ==
=== Magna Carta Project ===
4. Check that categories, including location categories, are supported in the text (but take any Early Barony categories on trust unless you have access to English Baronies by I J Sanders). If a category is not supported, look for evidence to support it. If none can be found, post a comment to the profile either asking for help or providing notice that the category wIll be deleted. NOTE: Descendant categories (i.e.: [[Category:Malet-18 Descendants]] should NOT be added to profiles that have a "Trail Pending" project box, unless they are hidden within <!-- -->.
5. Check all the inline citations against the source material so far as you can, ensuring the data in the bio matches precisely to the info contained in the source. (Some sources may not be accessible to you.)
  • Evaluate the reliability of sources. See the following pages for information about reliable sources:
  • Check that the format of the citation is correct.
  • If the citation is just a weblink, with no other details, or the source is inadequately described, add source information
  • Make sure any source weblink is working
  • Replace any Span tags with "ref" and "ref name" tags
  • Replace any link shorteners (eg TinyURL) with a full link
  • Add quotation marks around anything that is a direct quote, or better yet, write it in your own words.
  • While you do this, you may want to re-write/expand the biography with more information from each source.
  • Include additional sources as needed.
  • See the following pages on how to cite particular works:
  • If Burkes Peerage is cited, search Cokayne's "Complete Peerage" or other more reliable sources for the person and replace the citation to Burkes
  • Lewis's database should generally not be cited and facts from Lewis need to be confirmed against the sources given there. Note that if Lewis says someone was born or died "at of" a place, it does not mean they were born or died there - just that Lewis believes they had some association with the place in their lifetimes.
6. Remove links to any online trees on, FamilySearch or elsewhere and note (or remove) questionable sources, such as and They are not accepted/reliable sources for pre-1700 profiles. (Note: Links to primary sources (i.e.: birth, marriage, death records) found on FamilySearch and Ancestry are welcome, but they should be checked to ensure the data is relevant to the profile and that the link is in working order.)
7. Irrelevant GEDCOM-imported information should be deleted. See Help:GEDCOM-Created_Biographies. GEDCOM-imported sources should be reviewed, and either deleted or put into proper source format.
8. Check the sources under "See also". Is the citation style correct? Are the links correct and working? Can that source be cited inline in the bio? Can more info be added to the bio from that source?
9. Per WikiTree's Style Guidelines, Magna Carta Project-managed profiles do not generally add a separate Source List/Bibliography. In particular, sources which are named in inline citations do not usually need to be named again in a general source list: this should normally be confined to any other sources which you think others may want to refer to or be aware of (for instance a Wikipedia article on the person if it has not been mentioned in an inline citation).
10. Is there enough research done for a full and complete biography? If not, take some time to add more reliable sourcing and data to the biography. Even a quick Google search might yield some good results.
11. Add a Research Notes section where appropriate, especially if there are contentious aspects to the biography or relationships. If there has been any major alteration to the “facts” as written before, note the reason for the changes and your sources.
12. Spell out abbreviations within the biography (for example, outside of the datafields, months should be spelled out; exceptions are "Knt.", "Esq.", and "Gent." and academic degrees like BA and MA; you also don't want to change material presented from the source within quotes).
13. Add level 3 headings to a longer biography where and when appropriate, i.e: ===Marriages and Children===, ===Death and Probate===, etc.
14. Ensure genealogical information - Parents, Birth, Marriage(s), Child(ren), Death - if included, is easily located and has an inline citation to source(s), preferably Richardson or a primary source. At minimum, the text should include the parent and child on the trail between Gateway Ancestor and Surety Baron, sourced to Richardson or a primary source (for help locating pre-1500 primary sources, see the resources listed on this page; see also the project's Reliable Sources Page).
15. Add links to the WikiTree profiles of parents/spouses/children named in the biography, e.g., [[Example-3|G.G. Example]], with inline citations. If links already exist in the bio, check that those links are still intact (profile ID's change over the years due to merges, renaming, etc). NOTE: Basics on family members can be included, but extensive details are generally better on the family member’s profile.
  • For parents/children whose relationship is clearly supported by a primary source (and noted as such in text), set the relationship as “Confident”. Note that trails can be badged based on Richardson, but generally relationships between parent and child should be left with no confidence marking. A rating of "Confident" should not be added unless there is a clear primary source. (See details at Magna Carta Project Policy and Procedures.) But if they are already marked confident, leave them marked as confident unless there is clear evidence for doubting the relationship.
  • Profiles for children that have support but which are not listed by Richardson or a primary source can be included in the list of children (with appropriate citations/notes) or can be discussed in a "Disputed Children" section under the 2nd-level heading "Research Notes". Profiles for children that have no support should be detached after giving the profile managers a chance to comment and/or posting to G2G (a relationship change is considered a major change, so should be discussed first: see Communication Before Editing for details). Where a child is detached, a research note should normally be added to explain briefly why, even if it is just to say there is no good source for the relationship.
  • Do not number (#) the list of children unless the birth order is certain and supported by primary evidence. Use bullet points instead (*).
16. Consider creating a profile for a parent named by Richardson or in a primary source if one does not exist. It is not necessary for every child to have a profile (for example, profiles for children who died young or died without issue need not be created), but if all known children do have a profile attached, click “No more children” under the list of children in Edit view.
17. Compare dates/places in the profile’s data fields to the SOURCED entries in the biography. Are they the same? If not, adjust them.
  • Do not add specific places of birth/marriage and death to the datafields unless there is a source to support that info. If you don't have a specific sourced place, but know the county or country, add only the county/country, making sure there is evidence in the biography
  • Do not use the {{Estimated Date}} template for births and deaths unless the dates are unevidenced guesstimates. The template should not normally be used where a birth or death is "before” or "after" a date, with a source for that.
18. Names (e.g., Preferred, Other Nicknames), dates, and locations included in the datafields are included in text with inline citations. See our Datafield Guide for more direction.
  • Note that Roman numerals, Sr/Senior and Jr/Junior should not be used in the suffix field of British profiles. If you find them, remove them.
19. Acknowledgements for gedcom imports or minor changes aren’t necessary as they can be seen in the changes tab. They can be removed completely or you may add something like: “Click the Changes tab to see edits to this profile. Thank you to everyone who contributed."
20. Images should be relevant to the profile and must not infringe copyright. Wikimedia Commons is one of many places where you can find images to use on the profile. Each image has information on if and how you can use the image and download options. Always choose the highest resolution available, Wikitree will re-size the image to a thumbnail, profile photo or background. There needs to be an indication in comments on the image of where it has come from and why it is permissible to use it.
  • This free space page lists some Galleries and Collections which have given general permission for the use of images on WikiTree, and the form of accreditation they ask for.
  • Background images, if used, should be unobtrusive. See this G2G discussion.
  • Images should be inserted inside biography sections only sparingly and where there is a real need. They take up screen space and cause readers to do more scrolling to read profiles, especially on small-screen devices like smartphones. Normally it is enough to have the image on the right-hand side of the profile, outside the biography section.
  • Heraldry: DO NOT ADD unless you have a very good source for the image you're adding. A profile comment should be posted BEFORE adding heraldry found in an internet search (these are often disproved or not applicable to the profile in question).
  • Linking to an image of a source (i.e., a picture of a page in a book) is NOT a sufficient reference. If the source is available online, simply include the link to the source in the full citation given on the profile page (see Help: Sources), rather than adding an image of the page (which may violate copyright restrictions).
21. Coloured text should not be used. (It can be difficult for people with sight problems or colour blindness.)
22. Do not use tables in biography sections. They frequently cause display problems, with some columns difficult or impossible to read, sometimes with columns being invisible on many devices, and even narrow tables are very hard for people to read on smartphones. If you find a table on a profile, replace it, with the relevant information presented as normal text.
23. Make sure any DNA information is presented in a way that conforms to the guidance here. A free space page should be used for any but very brief DNA information.
24. Review any stickers. They should be used sparingly on Project-managed profiles. Location stickers should normally be removed unless there is a clear need for them which cannot be met by simple categorisation. Stickers for One-Name studies should generally be left untouched. If in doubt about a sticker, you can consult the Project Leadership.
25. Read through the profile again to check that it flows, makes sense, and genealogical "vitals" (parents, birth, marriage, children, death) are sourced and easily found.
26. Once you've finished developing the profile, run through the Review/Re-Review list below and carefully proofread your work.
27. Replace the Project Box at the top of the profile with:
{{Magna Carta | Trail Pending | status=development | needs=Review and Approval}}
28. Update the Team spreadsheet and let a Team leader know you've finished work on the profile … you’re DONE!! Congratulations and thank you!
29. Pat yourself on the back … you just improved our shared tree and many will be grateful for your hard work!


1. Re-check for duplicate profiles.
2. Re-check Suggestions.
3. Check that Headings are correct level/2nd-level headings are in correct order.
4. Check there is a Magna Carta Project Box and that the Project is profile manager.
5. Check that narrative in Magna Carta Project section is correct and current (update with review/re-review date & your name).
6. Check that genealogical information has inline citations/appropriate source(s). Note that each child should have his or her own inline citation, even if the list of children is from a single source.
7. Check that datafield information and attached profiles match text.
8. Check that any links in the profile still work/go where intended.
9. Check that categories, including location categories, are supported in the text.
10. Spell out abbreviations.
11. Check that images relate to the person covered by the profile and they are sourced. Make sure there are no copyright issues.
12. If there is coloured text, remove the colouring.
13. Replace any tables with information in text form.
14. Read the biography (make sure - as expressed in a previous version of the checklist - the "Narrative is minimally coherent”). Run a spellcheck.

A very condensed, printable version of the checklist can be found HERE. Sorry, but it's 2 pages...


  1. Help:Merging
  2. Help:Biographies
  3. Placement of Magna Carta Project Section (on the Magna Carta Project Section page).


Comments: 4

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This checklist is great! When I was trying to participate, I either could not find a link to this checklist or it was not as detailed as it is now and became lost in all the circular links trying to create my own checklist from the project info.
posted by Kimberly Cooper
Note: Cockayne's Complete Peerage, available here, is a source frequently used by Richardson. If Richardson and CP disagree, the difference should be discussed (post to the profile and/or to G2G & the Magna Carta Google Group).

update - Be mindful of the edition used, per a note posted to a project profile by John A. (co-leader, EuroAristo Project):

Please don't use the volumes of the 1st edition of Cokayne's The Complete Peerage as a source, they have been totally superseded by the second edition, which are all available from FamilySearch Catalog and probably other places. The Verdun barons are in Vol 12, pt 2.

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
A question came up about Visitations being more authoritative than Richardson... it depends, but generally the answer is no.

See specifically the following comments in G2G discussions:

"The books themselves are compilations from the original manuscript(s), and they will have an extensive introduction discussing these sort of issues, and will often draw on other documentation. If you ever need to use the genealogies from a Visitation you must read the introduction to get a full understanding." (click here for full comment)

"As for the veracity of the visitations, they were what was reported at the time of the visitation. So one in 1565 should be OK for the previous couple generations but not necessarily for earlier." (click here for full answer)

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett