The research log should be something every genealogist keeps and uses every time they research. It helps to keep track of where you looked and what the results of that search were. On top of noting searches you do offline, don't forget to keep a log of your online searches and the date and results of those searches. Remember database and online content are updated frequently so what you don't find today may appear tomorrow. In any research log for online searches, make certain to note what keywords or surname you used in your search and how you spelled them. Sometimes searching via the Soundex or an alternative spelling can help you find what you are looking for.
I've used many different kinds of research logs, some I've created by using a table in a Word document or a Google Docs spreadsheet. One of my favorite Research Log templates is available on the BYU Ancestors site. This PDF research log allows you to add information to it by typing; however it will not save it, you will need to print the form out after completing it or print it out as a blank form.
The FamilySearch Research Wiki has a good article about the how and why of using research logs. Research Logs explains not only how to set one up but also what to include before and after you do a search.
City Directory Chart
This form on genealogist Dae Powell's website Shoestring Genealogy allows researchers to note city directory research including name, occupation, residence, years and repository. A great form for a resource that can often be overlooked by researchers.
Shoestring Genealogy also includes other charts, forms and reference sheets that can be of use to any researcher. Researchers may want to download the U.S. Vital Statistics sheet found at the bottom of the forms webpage and laminate it for future reference. This list includes each state and the dates birth, marriage and death records began.
Census Tools offers a variety of census forms as Excel spreadsheets. All of these spreadsheets are free but you can also buy a CD with all of the forms by the forms creator. I highly recommend this website as a first stop in looking for forms you need. Make sure to peruse all the forms available, there's much more to this website than just census templates.
Looking for the blank forms for the 1940 census? At a recent presentation on the 1940 census, the presenter showed us his census collection, including real census forms. It was amazing to see how large these forms were; according to the National Archives website they were 23 ¾ " by 12 ½". You can see an original form and more on their website. NARA's website includes a list of questions asked on the 1940 census and templates that you can fill out on your computer, perfect for using as you find ancestors. Then save the form to your computer or genealogy database software.
And even more
Family Tree Magazine's website has quite a bit of free information for genealogists, including best website and blog links, articles and forms. Forms are listed according to categories including Basic Charts and Worksheets, Research Trakkers and Organizers , Census Forms, Immigration Formsand Record Worksheets . My favorite category is the Oral History and Heirlooms. The Heirloom Inventory Form is one every genealogist should fill out. So often a family's heirlooms end up being sold at a garage sale, given away or worse, thrown away. With this form, and I would also suggest accompanying photos of the items, you will have a great record of the family heirlooms for your records.
As with any search, check our Cyndi's List for a list of links to forms online in her Free Stuff> Printable Charts and Forms category.