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Narrative report option


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#1 A Descendant

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:15 PM

In reading numerous genealogy reports/published genealogies it seems to be quite common for a report to first show a persons vital info in a separate paragraph at the beginning of their narrative.
So, the first paragraph would have their basic birth, marriage, (and perhaps birth info of spouse), then death and burial info. Then a new paragraph starts the rest of the narrative. In Rootsmagic the narrative is all chronological, unless i've missed something.

So the wish is... would it be possible to have some option you could check/uncheck on the narrative report to print BMD facts first?
I know you could do somewhat the same thing using the sort dates and rearranging the facts but that would be tedious.

Does this make sense? Does anyone else think this would be good?

#2 Laura

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:37 PM

How do you purpose it would be set up? I can see several problems.

Person with birth, marriage, death and burial and then other facts, census, occupation, in a time line for each person?

What about other family facts? Where would they go? And what about people with more than one marriage?

Would all that marriage data be repeated for the spouse's record? It would be pretty time consuming to have to refer back in the printout to the person for the marriage data especially if the spouse is a 2nd or more spouse with all previous spouse(s)and those spouses children printed first.

Yet repeating the marriage and family data in each spouse's record would be just repeating data already printed and add to the length of the report. With a report that covers many generations, that could add pages extra.

#3 A Descendant

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 05:43 PM

Hi Laura, I'll have to think about this for awhile, and see what I had in mind! Thanks for pointing out these things to think about.

#4 A Descendant

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 05:35 AM

My thinking here was partially motivated by the desire to break up the one big paragraph that the narrative makes of a person's facts. From reading other discussions on the forum I've learned some ways to do it.
I think the wish has already been stated on the forum to have the ability to force a new paragraph whenever we want it.

#5 Laura

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 11:26 AM

My thinking here was partially motivated by the desire to break up the one big paragraph that the narrative makes of a person's facts. From reading other discussions on the forum I've learned some ways to do it.
I think the wish has already been stated on the forum to have the ability to force a new paragraph whenever we want it.


To me, RM changing the order of the Individual and Marriage facts in a narrative report is mainly a different issue from paragraph spacing in that report. Personally, I like that Individual facts are grouped together and then the family facts and then the spouse facts and avoids the problems I posted about above.

If RM were to have something like "all facts will be in it's own paragraph" it would need to be optional. Every user has their own ideas about where or if they want paragraphs.

I don't have a hard and fast rule about where where I want paragraphs to be. Those are decisions I make on a person's Edit person screen based on the facts I have for each person. And how I want to vary the narrative report for each person so that it reads more like a book and not just like a descendant's report with notes.

Sometimes I want facts and their notes to be grouped together such as the Birth fact and an Alternate name or my user defined General fact or maybe a Miscellaneous fact. Or, possibly, I want to group all the Occupation facts together in one paragraph. Sometimes I combine sentences from more than one fact to make a compound sentence, i.e. "He was living in Sharp County, Arkansas in the 1880, 1900, and 1910 censuses". But, I want other facts in their own paragraph.

I do this by utilizing the sort date for facts, returns at the end of notes, or returns at the end of the fact sentence of the previous fact if the next fact does not have a note. My suggestion is to add a private note at the end of extra returns at the bottom of a note so the returns will not be stripped in a gedcom you are making for yourself and choose to include private notes or on drag and drop, i. e. <return> <return> {zzz}.

If I want the note to start in another line after the fact sentence, I add a return or returns to the beginning of the note.

Returns can be added to the beginning of a fact sentence, but that sometimes requires a little adjustment to the fact sentence fields such as [person:caps]. Returns could be added to the fact default sentence for facts that I usually want in their own paragraph and the sentence customized on the Edit person screen if I changed my mind for that person. I customize the sentence structure on the Edit person screen.

If I were writing a family history book, I would want all the facts to be in one big paragraph to save pages.

#6 A Descendant

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 11:49 AM

Certainly the order of facts and the spacing of paragraphs are two different issues. Just the one thought led to another. And, of course, if RM did someday put in an option to change the order of facts in a report it should be just that - optional.

I recently developed this method for creating a new paragraph before a fact sentence - I created a new fact and called it "New Paragraph". I did not enable the description, date, or place fields, and it would only be included in narrative reports(though I suppose it would need to be included in a GEDCOM if the recipient wanted the report to have your custom paragraphs). For the "sentence" I just put 2 returns, then 4 spaces with the spacebar. The returns put the next fact as the start of a new paragraph and the 4 spaces indent it the same amount as the other normal paragraphs. To all appearances it seems to work. You place it where you want using the sort date.

Perhaps it would later prove to cause some problems, I don't know. Just working thorugh ideas!

#7 Laura

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 01:12 PM

I hadn't really thought about using a user defined fact in that way, and I like your idea and will try it out.

The question I have is whether the 4 spaces would be stripped along with the returns on gedcom or drag and drop. Have you checked that?

I only worry about extra returns at the end of a note being stripped in gedcom or drag and drop if I am preparing the gedcom or drag and drop for my use or another RM user. Other genealogy programs will have their own ways the user can or can not control spacing in a narrative like report.

If possible, I would really like to see RM stripping extra returns in fact notes and source detail text and comments in gedcoms and drag and drop fixed.

#8 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:07 PM

This trick is a really neat idea. I wish I had thought of it a long time ago. And in answer to the question about GEDCOM export and Drag and Drop, they both work just fine with this trick and they don't lose any data.

However (and this is huge), the reason they don't lose any data is because your notes end with a space rather than with a CR/LF. Your notes include a space at the end of the note (really four of them) to indent the paragraph rather than to prevent the loss of data. But a side effect of the space at the end is that no data is lost on GEDCOM export or Drag and Drop. Unfortunately, I do not want the indent at the beginning of each paragraph. So if I were to adopt your trick, I would have to come up with a way to get it to work and still not have the indent (i.e., something like the zzz trick at the end of the note or the QQQQQ trick at the end of the note that have been discussed before). The loss of a CR/LF at the end of a note on GEDCOM export or Drag and Drop is to me a pretty severe bug that should be fixed as soon as possible.

One thing that I don't understand is the reference to making the indents be the same amount as for "other normal paragraphs". In my experience, RM doesn't really indent paragraphs in the same sense we are talking about???

Finally, you are really getting five spaces of indent at the beginning of paragraphs rather than four spaces of indent. That's because RM5 itself puts a space between facts. Unfortunately from my point of view, the space inserted by RM5 goes to the front of the first line of a paragraph rather than at the end of the last line of a paragraph. So I get one space worth of indent whether I want it or not. I solve the problem by editing the RTF file with a text editor before opening it with Word to remove the space at the beginning of the paragraph. In theory, it should be possible to remove the space with Word itself, but global replace in Word doesn't seem to be up to the task. Again, I think this is a bug in RM5. It shouldn't insert a space at the beginning of a paragraph when the paragraph has been forced by the user with CR/LF.

Jerry

#9 A Descendant

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:33 PM

You keep referring, in your second paragraph above, to notes ending with the CR and spaces, and how it doesn't work right in a GEDCOM transfer without the spaces. I had been reffering to putting this in as a custom fact, not the end of the notes. Or perhaps you realized that and were trying the same thing with the notes

Hmm.. your're right RM doesn't indent any paragraphs! I think what I was seeing was the persons very first paragraph following their number. Since there's a number first it is somewhat indented. So i guess you wouldn't need the 4 spaces. I realized i was getting 5 spaces that's what i intended when i saw that it added a space on its own. I had wanted it to match what i thought was its own indenting...

#10 TomH

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 05:01 PM

This trick does essentially the same thing as adding CR/LF at the end of a note. CR/LF+space(s) in either would have the same effect. My memory is hazy but I think adding CR/LF at the beginning of the fact sentence survives transfers without altering indent but also has some imperfection that I forget. An advantage of the custom fact New Paragraph is that it can be modified in one place and can be readily found in RM searches and on the Edit Person screen.

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#11 Laura

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 10:56 PM

I finally got to try the user defined paragraph out, and I really like it.

I did find that I need two facts, 1 individual and 1 family. I like to have returns between the end of the marriage and family facts and the spouse's individual data, and I needed the family paragraph fact sorted after the family data to do that.

I also played around a little with sharing the individual paragraph fact by sharing the Witness role with that sentence just having the returns. I'm not sure just when I might want to do that yet.

I didn't add the space or spaces in the Principle or Witness sentences, so when I drag and dropped into a new database, the 2nd return was stripped and the 1st return was retained. But, I don't mind reentering the returns as I don't like the space starting a new paragraph in my main database. And if the dropped returns problem is ever corrected, it won't be a problem. It is a lot easier than fixing dropped returns in notes or ending returns in multiple customized fact sentences. And I think it is better than having the [zzz] or [qqqqq] at the end of notes as was discussed before in case I might have other private notes I might someday want to print or export in a gedcom.

And using the user defined fact is a lot better than adding a note to a fact just to add returns.

I even liked having the fact in the Edit person screen as the blank date, details, etc. makes a visible break between the other facts. It is helpful especially when I have sorted facts together to combine the sentences.

I haven't checked it out yet, but I have always had the problem of when I customized the spacing for the narrative report, the family Group Sheet spacing had extra line spacing. I will be checking that out in a few days.

Creating a Group for fact does not exist will be helpful as I change my database to use the new paragraphing facts.

I still have some exploring to do using the new facts before I fully commit to using them or know when I will use them.

I just wish I had thought of it. :) Thanks, A Descendant.

#12 A Descendant

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 05:24 AM

I finally got to try the user defined paragraph out, and I really like it.

I did find that I need two facts, 1 individual and 1 family. I like to have returns between the end of the marriage and family facts and the spouse's individual data, and I needed the family paragraph fact sorted after the family data to do that.

I also played around a little with sharing the individual paragraph fact by sharing the Witness role with that sentence just having the returns. I'm not sure just when I might want to do that yet.


Hi Laura, I'm glad my idea is of use to others!

I hadn't thought of making a family fact with this trick. I just tried it and one problem I found is that if you use this family fact AND have family notes, it will put the new paragraph before the notes. Then the family notes will still proceed right into the spouse info.

So, what I was doing to separate the family info/notes and the spouse info is to put my individual fact at the very beginning of the spouse's fact, that is, sort it before their birth. However, if you then print a narrative report, using that spouse in the direct line, it will mess up their first paragraph, since they're the primary individual.

So your idea of a family fact is best for separating the spouse from the family info at least when there is no family note. Its also great because it will work both ways - you can print a narrative with either spouse in the direct line and the family info will still be separated from spouse info.

#13 Laura

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:28 AM

My user defined family fact for paragraphing worked just fine after a marriage or family fact with notes.

The paragraphing family user defined fact should be sorted just after the last family fact on the Edit person screen. That is usually the marriage fact, but it could be a Divorce fact or a Census (family) fact, or other family fact.

Are you sure you created a family fact and not an individual fact? Go to Lists, Fact type list and highlight the fact you are using for the family paragraphing fact. In the right pane it should read Fact type: family.

Or perhaps you used your individual fact instead of the family fact.

I named my individual fact ! Indv returns, and my family fact ! Family returns. The characters in front sorts them to the top of the Fact list to make them quick to choose when linking them.

There is one thing we haven't mentioned. If you have a General [Person] note for the person, you will need a individual paragraphing fact sorted after the last individual fact to print if you want returns between the fact and General note. You will not need to put extra returns at the end of that note as RM automatically adds them before the beginning of the family facts.

#14 A Descendant

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:58 AM

Okay, what I was referring to as a family note is the one you get when you're in a persons "edit person" screen and click on Spouse. Then on the right it calls it a Spouse Family Note i think. When there is a note there, and I use the New Paragraph Family Fact after the marriage fact, it's putting the new paragraph after the marriage facts but before the aforesaid note. So i haven't yet figured out what i'm doing wrong

#15 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:06 PM

You keep referring, in your second paragraph above, to notes ending with the CR and spaces, and how it doesn't work right in a GEDCOM transfer without the spaces. I had been reffering to putting this in as a custom fact, not the end of the notes. Or perhaps you realized that and were trying the same thing with the notes

You are right that I partially misunderstood how your scheme is working. I was thinking you have a custom fact that's a dummy and that you using the note field of the custom fact, but I gather that instead you have a custom fact that's a dummy and that you are using the sentence template of the custom fact. Now that I better understand, I would make the following additional comments.

You technique still works quite well. Indeed, you don't even need a custom fact. You could just put the spacing characters at the beginning of the sentence template for your actual facts rather than having to insert dummy facts. But there still would be advantages to sticking with the dummy facts such as searchability.

However, I investigated the approach of putting the spacing for new paragraphs into the sentence templates when the Sentence Template Language first came out in RM4, and I decided to stick with the CR/LF characters in notes instead. There were a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the CR/LF trick for fact notes works both for narrative reports created by RM and also for Web pages created by RM as descendant books. Putting the spacing for new paragraphs into the sentence templates works for the narrative reports created by RM but does not work for Web pages created by RM as descendant books. I needed something that would work in both environments, and the only thing I could find was the CR/LF trick in fact notes. The second reason was similar to the first. I found that the CR/LF trick would would for GEDCOM exported to third party software, but the sentence template trick would not work for GEDCOM exported to third party software. So I decided then (and reaffirm my decision now) to stay with the CR/LF trick in fact notes to achieve proper paragraphing control.

Jerry

#16 A Descendant

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:52 PM

I realized I could add the spacing characters at the beginning of my actual fact, but then I didn't really liking customizing all those facts so I came up with the idea of this dummy fact.

What if you don't actually have anything written in your note? Is it just used for the special spacing then?

I guess our output largely determines what approach we use.

#17 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:46 PM

I realized I could add the spacing characters at the beginning of my actual fact, but then I didn't really liking customizing all those facts so I came up with the idea of this dummy fact.

What if you don't actually have anything written in your note? Is it just used for the special spacing then?

I guess our output largely determines what approach we use.

To get the required effect, you actually have to add the spacing characters at the end of the fact note rather than the beginning. So the fact note for fact #1 creates the paragraph for fact #2, the fact note for fact #2 creates the paragraph for fact #3, etc. If the fact note is otherwise blank, all it contains is two occurrences of the CR/LF sequence. Striking the Enter key one time on the PC keyboard enters one occurrence of the CR/LF sequence. As you might suspect, I have tons of fact notes that contain only the double CR/LF sequence and the note looks blank to the eye in the note editor. It's only when you print out a report that the purpose of the double CR/LF sequence really becomes manifest.

I 100% agree that "our output largely determines what approach we use". And it's not just for spacing in notes. I find that every decision I make about how I use RM, whether the decision be about places or sources or nicknames or paragraphs or whatever, the decision is driven primarily by the effect the decision will have on reports. My next most important consideration is compatibility with third party software.

Jerry

#18 A Descendant

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:12 PM

To get the required effect, you actually have to add the spacing characters at the end of the fact note rather than the beginning. So the fact note for fact #1 creates the paragraph for fact #2, the fact note for fact #2 creates the paragraph for fact #3, etc. If the fact note is otherwise blank, all it contains is two occurrences of the CR/LF sequence. Striking the Enter key one time on the PC keyboard enters one occurrence of the CR/LF sequence. As you might suspect, I have tons of fact notes that contain only the double CR/LF sequence and the note looks blank to the eye in the note editor. It's only when you print out a report that the purpose of the double CR/LF sequence really becomes manifest.


Okay that's what I figured you meant

#19 Laura

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:11 PM

Okay, what I was referring to as a family note is the one you get when you're in a persons "edit person" screen and click on Spouse. Then on the right it calls it a Spouse Family Note i think. When there is a note there, and I use the New Paragraph Family Fact after the marriage fact, it's putting the new paragraph after the marriage facts but before the aforesaid note. So i haven't yet figured out what i'm doing wrong


Thanks for the explanation. I was stuck in the family fact note mode as I don't use the Spouse Family Note. :)

The Spouse family note works the same as the General [Personal] note for the person.

You can affect whether there are returns before that note prints by linking your family paragraphing fact after the last family fact or putting ending returns in the last family fact note.

But the only way to control line spacing that comes after the General note or Spouse Family note is to add the returns at the end of the Spouse Family note.

You can end the note with:
<return>
<return>
{zzz}

The {zzz} is a private note as has been previously discussed and will not print in the narrative report as long as you don't choose to print private notes. The returns will not be stripped when dragging and dropping. But, to retain the {zzz} in a gedcom, you will have to choose to include private notes. Any letters can go between the { } as long as you can do a search for them and not come up with an actual word.

Printing order for a narrative report [descendants] is:

Focus person:
Individual facts for that person
General fact for that person
Family facts linked to first spouse
Spouse Family note for this couple
Spouse Individual facts
First child
repeat...
Family facts linked to second spouse
Spouse Family note for this couple
Spouse Individual facts
repeat....

I like to have control where a General note will print, so I have a user defined fact, General note, which I use instead. I can sort that fact anywhere in the fact order I want depending on what the subject of the note is.

I have never entered Spouse Family notes so have not created a user defined fact for those notes, but if I did it would be a family fact.

#20 Alfred

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:30 PM

OK, I finally figured out what you were talking about.

It is just "Note(Family)".

The word "Spouse" had me looking in circles.
it is a general family note not associated with any specific family event or fact. And it will come after all of the family facts and their notes have been printed.
So, if you use a family note, a family fact with the paragraph break will come before the family note no matter what you use for the sort date.
Alfred