How can I start researching my German or German-American family?

This helpful site answers the following often-asked questions in detail:

How can I start researching my German or German-American family?
What introductory or general books should I read?
Can you help me with surname ________________?
Where can I register/find my surnames?
What are the rules for given names?
Where is the town/village ___________________?
How do I find an address or phone number?
How can I find out what village my ancestor came from?
What about the German census?
How about German cemeteries?
What does my German surname mean?
Is my family from a town with a name like their surname?
How can I learn about German noble families?
Where can I find German military records?
How do I write to a German Standesamt, parish, or archive?
How do I find German postal codes?
I don't know German. What should I do?
I can't read German handwriting. What should I do?
What is the basic German genealogical vocabulary?
What are the German umlauts and genealogical symbols?
How can I send money to Germany?
What is the IGI?
Where can I find passenger lists or ship information?
What is Germans to America?
What German archives and/or genealogical organizations are there?
How do I find a book about ________________?
Should I buy a surname/crest/family history book sold by mail?
Where do I go on the internet for German genealogy?
What are soc.genealogy.german, soc.genealogy.surnames.german, and
Are there other online resources for genealogy?
- -----------------------------------------

Helpful Links for Beginner's Research

* RootsWeb's Guide "On the Trail of Germanic Ancestors"

* RootsWeb's Guide "Tracing Your Immigrant Ancestors"

* Linda Herrick's "Finding Where Your Ancestors Came From in Germany"

 LDS Family History Library Ancestor Search
[look up your ancestors' names (free) in the immense collection of
extracted data gathered by the LDS Library]

* Arnie Lang's Immigration, Ships' Passenger Lists & Naturalization
Research Guide [excellent step-by-step advice]

* Regional Research in German-Speaking Countries

* Links to German Research on the Internet

* Resources for German Genealogy on the Internet

* Basic Research Outline for German Genealogy