Twelve tips for an amazing record book

These 12 suggestions can help you easily create a successful 4-H record book.

Record books are often used in 4-H and within other organizations to keep track of the work that goes into a project or activity. If you are working on a record book, you probably want it to be the best it can be. Michigan State University Extension has some great tips to help make writing your record book a successful and smooth process.

  1. Spell check! Grammar, spelling and punctuation matter. These tools help convey your message. If the words are not clear, the reader will not be able to clearly understand the great work you have done.
  1. Phone a friend. It is helpful to ask someone to proofread your record book before submitting it to ensure it looks good and makes sense. You can ask teachers, 4-H leaders or staff, or other caring adults in your life. It may be best to ask someone who doesn’t know much about your project, because he/she can give you an honest outsider perspective about the clarity of your work.
  2. Start early! The work you do on your record book can start as soon as you get your animal or start your project. Think about working on specific pages as a club each month: this ensures everyone is keeping up on their record keeping, and gives members a chance to help each other or ask questions about the project.
  3. Make it personalized. Include pictures and other creative elements. Consider putting the record book in a binder or making a Power Point presentation.
  4. Document! Save receipts, pictures of you working on your project, and other loose documents in a folder or clear binder sheet projector. Your storage file can either go along with your record book or individual pieces can be included into the final product.
  5. Share it. The record book can be used as a supporting document when talking to potential buyers or giving presentations about your project. Take it with you when you meet a new buyer or share at your pen during the auction. You can also share it at a school meeting or community organization group.
  6. Take note! Keep a journal where you record your efforts, thoughts and challenges. This journal can be a small notebook and be kept near your project. It can get dirty or damaged in the process of your work because when the time comes, you can transfer that content to your clean record book for display.
  7. Cleanliness counts. Neatness and organization are important. You might want to type your answers. If not, use your best penmanship. It might work best to keep a rough draft copy of your record book throughout the year, and neatly transfer that to your final copy once edited.
  8. Be thorough and complete! Make sure to follow directions and answer all questions completely. Some questions have more than one part to them so ensure you have answered each component to the question.
  9. Do your research! If you don’t understand a section, ask someone for help (4-H leader or staff, local vet, etc.).
  10. Learn from examples. Try to find other record books as models; these can be from other members or other clubs, or even other county programs. They can help give you a guideline for your work.
  11. Review. Don’t forget to review last year’s record book before starting this year’s project! Revisiting challenges and triumphs from a previous year will help you make more informed decisions in the current year and help you think about how you could try something new.

In addition to these suggestions, you probably have some tips of your own from your experience! Consider having a club meeting where you brainstorm your own tips and share them with each other. Learning to keep thorough records is a skill that can be transferred to many aspects of adulthood, so start early and strive to make the best better. In addition to record books, Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program can help you build these skills through other projects and events.

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