Monday, January 10, 2011

Creating Source Citations in Family Tree Maker 2011 - Post 1: The Challenge

Creating source citations in my genealogy software has always been a problem for me, so I was happy that Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and other programs have worked hard to provide source citation templates for users of the software.

However, my database has over 600 "master sources" and each has one or more (sometimes hundreds) of source citations that define a citation detail (e.g., a page number) or the citation text (a summary or transcription of the information in the source).  Every one of my "master sources" was created in the relatively simple FTM 16 software program, and often is just something like:

*  Carringer Family Bible (loose pages)

*  Westmnster MA Vital Records Book.

*  Barry, "History of Framingham, Mass."

Those are not standard source citations (author, title, publication information, etc.), but they worked for me and were fast to create.  Now I'm paying the price for my expediency.  In order to make my source citations useful, I need to create standardized sources as best I can.  My choice is to use the standardized source templates using one or more of the programs I have - Family Tree Maker 2011, RootsMagic 4 and Legacy Family Tree 7.  But I have to now transform my "shorthand source citations into "template sources."

Because I'm doing most of my database work at present in FTM 2011 (I had to choose one, and FTM 2011 seemed to do place standardization the easiest), I will concentrate on that program for now.  However, I'm not going to do too many of the "transformations" without evaluating the other two programs.  I want to see how easy each program is to create the sources using templates, and if sources from one program translate well into other programs.  I may choose to use one of them as my "selected program" at some time down the road. 

Family Tree Maker has made several tutorial videos to help users work with the program - you can see the list at http://www.familytreemaker.com/Pages/Tutorial/Tutorial.aspx (thanks to Tana L. Pedersen for the post
Family Tree Maker Tutorials today - very timely!).  The "Sourcing" tutorial presentation title page looks like this:



This video is about five minutes long, and Duff Wilson takes the viewer through the basic steps of creating a source and citation from scratch, and explores the different ways to create and access source citations.  Interestingly, he did not use the source creation template available in FTM 2011! 

The next post will describe the process I've used to turn a "shorthand source" into a "template source" in Family Tree Maker 2011.  Of course, the process will be different in other genealogy software programs.

Disclosure:  I received a gratis copy of Family Tree Maker 2011 from Ancestry.com in November 2010.  I had purchased earlier versions of Family Tree Maker myself, but also received gratis copies of some versions from Ancestry.com (which I donated to a local genealogical society).  I try very hard to be objective in my comments about Family Tree Maker, and all genealogy software, subscription sites and websites.

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