In a comment to my blog post “Forms Shape the Research”, Tammy asked, “How do you link the forms together so knowing at a glance who is connected to who, etc.” The ability to link forms together is one of the reasons that I am so addicted to working in Microsoft Word and Excel! Not only can we link one form with another, but we can link MULTIPLE documents together allowing one document to become almost like a table of contents for documents related to every member of a family. Let’s look at an example. I’ll start with a Family Group Sheet. This is the half-sheet Family Group Sheet that’s available in the downloads tab at the top of this blog, but you could use the full sheet form as well.


Here I have a Group Sheet for Eli Gilpin and his wife, Rebecca Conn. In this group sheet, I have included citations for the different sources of information for all of the family members. But sometimes, just knowing the source isn’t helpful for “on the spot” questions. The citation is telling where the information was found, but it isn’t telling me what I named the file when I downloaded it and it certainly doesn’t tell me all of the clues contained within the document. If I create hyperlinks to the documents, not only do I not have to remember what I called a document, but with a single click, I can open the document to take a look at it.

For example, when I look at the citation for the death of Nancy Jane Gilpin Scott, I see that there is an Administrator’s Bond in an un-numbered book dated 1908-1924 and that the bond is on page 293. But what if I wanted to see who that administrator was? Who were the sureties for the bond? What amount was the bond for? If I make the date on the group sheet into a link, I can click on it and go directly to the bond itself to answer all of my questions.

To make a hyperlink, begin by highlighting the text you’d like to make linkable. In this case, the text will be the date of death. After the text is highlighted, click on the “Insert” tab at the top of the screen and click on “Hyperlink” in the middle of the ribbon.


When you click on “Hyperlink”, a new box will pop up and you will need to decide exactly what you’d like to link to. You might want to link to a document that you’ve downloaded or scanned and saved on your computer. Or if you found the document online, you might want to link to the location where you found the document. If you are linking to an online location, you will need to copy the web address for that document to paste into the “Address” box at the bottom.


If you are linking to a document that you have stored on your computer, you will clik on the folder at the top of the box and find the location of the document that way.


One you have added the location for your document, click “OK” and link
your text will turn blue, indicating that it is now clickable. To click the link, you will need to hold down the Ctrl button as you click. Notice that the hyperlink does not affect the footnote superscript at all as long as that wasn’t highlighted before you created the link.

The steps for linking from within an Excel document are the same except that the “Hyperlink” button in the “Insert” tab is in a slightly different location.


What if you have more than one document for a fact? You might decide to link one document to the date and another document to the location. But it might be even better to highlight part of your citation text and make THAT a hyperlink. This would be especially helpful if you have several documents you’d like to link to one fact. Each citation would become a link to it’s specific document.

Now, just think of all the things that we could hyperlink for on this one family group sheet.

  • I could link Eli’s name to the chronological notes document that I have created for him.
  • I could link county names with county GenWeb sites or historic county maps.
  • I could link documents for every birth, marriage or death event on the entire sheet.
  • I could link the names of each child with their own group sheet.
  • If the in-law are families that I am tracking, I could link a child’s spouse’s name to the Family Group Sheet for THEIR family. In this case, Nancy Jain’s husband’s family is also in my line, so I could link that THAT group sheet.
  • I could link items that I’ve included in the “Notes” section of this Group Sheet for Eli, Rebecca and their children – for example, the marriage records for additional spouses or the web page that talks about the history of Gilpin, Kentucky.
  • I could link the cemetery names to the Find-A-Grave page or to a cemetery map.
  • I could use the blank spaces below the children to list different helpful documents I’ve created – Eli’s Family Land Sheet, Inventory, Tax Tracker or 5 Gen Chart and link to each of those.
  • Or I could use a few of the cells to keep links for web sites I’d like to come back to at a later date.

The possibilities are endless!