How is it Similar? How is it Different?

When a record is located, try and compare it to other records of the same type or in the same series. How is the record for your relative different from other records? How is it similar? Some differences, such as name, date, etc. identify the record as being for your ancestor as opposed to someone else.

But make certain the “boilerplate” of the document is the same as others in the series. Differences, such as a phrase or word that does not appear in other documents may indicate a clue.

Analyzing a record in comparison to others is especially helpful when looking at church records which often are kept in loose paragraph format before standard forms were used.