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In the planning stage of the project, the editors studied the features of various subjects that were to be widely represented in the New Handbook and prepared guidelines for authors. These listed salient features that should, if possible, appear in every article of a given genre--the spouse's name or the subject's death date in a biography, for instance, or the date of founding in a community history. The genres varied widely, from county and community histories to organizations and institutions to newspapers and miscellaneous historical events. The reader who explores the New Handbook will soon know what the guidelines required in most article types. If guideline information does not appear in an article, that fact means that it was unavailable, not that it was not sought. The guidelines in general required, for instance, that books, plays, movies, paintings, and other works be dated by year in the text. But occasionally it is impossible to discover when a book was published or when a painting was done. Despite the best efforts of authors and staff members, the birth or death date or parents' names of a biographical subject sometimes eluded the editors' grasp, and an unmentioned omission resulted.