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#1 MikeZ

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:09 PM

As my signature shows I have been a long-time user of Bruce's program, and recently jumped onto the RM6 bandwagon from RM 3.2.6.

One of the reasons I did not upgrade before this time was my concern over how my sources would be treated during the import process. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well RM6 handled it.

The only downside was that I know see how poorly I documented my earlier sources & citations. And watching the webinar on the subject only underscored my lack of that knowledge.

I was planning to try and "upgrade" my imported Free Form sources based on the template models, but the webinar was somewhat clear in recommending that user not do that. Somewhat because they was a conversion program being developed.

So I'm thinking that my strategy should be leave the imported sources alone, and work on using the templates for any new sources & citations. Perhaps also doing some minor "clean-up" as I encounter errant source documentation.

I would appreciate any thoughts on my strategy, and any recommendations for sample example templates - showing filled-in examples.

Thanks...

User since Family Origins 2.0, Now using RM 7.5...


#2 TomH

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:37 PM

Mike, I have a contrarian view about the use of source template: yes for guidance in what content to include in a draft citation, no for storage and export. See http://sqlitetoolsfo...ource Templates

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#3 APerson

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:58 PM

As my signature shows I have been a long-time user of Bruce's program, and recently jumped onto the RM6 bandwagon from RM 3.2.6.

One of the reasons I did not upgrade before this time was my concern over how my sources would be treated during the import process. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well RM6 handled it.

The only downside was that I know see how poorly I documented my earlier sources & citations. And watching the webinar on the subject only underscored my lack of that knowledge.

I was planning to try and "upgrade" my imported Free Form sources based on the template models, but the webinar was somewhat clear in recommending that user not do that. Somewhat because they was a conversion program being developed.

So I'm thinking that my strategy should be leave the imported sources alone, and work on using the templates for any new sources & citations. Perhaps also doing some minor "clean-up" as I encounter errant source documentation.

I would appreciate any thoughts on my strategy, and any recommendations for sample example templates - showing filled-in examples.

Thanks...


I can certainly appreciate your situation - it's one that I struggled with for a very long time as I when I first started compiling my family history data was "back in the olden days" of PAF (the DOS version that existed long before Windows was released). In the years that followed, attempting to use updated versions of PAF and many other programs only made things even more of a mess so I eventually put genealogy aside for a number of years. RM4 was the first program to come along that allowed a way to begin documenting sources consistently. The problem, as you found, is that there simply is no way to import sources into the template system other than as a Free Form source. This only creates more problems. I seriously doubt that it will ever be possible to accurately import all of your source data into a template, other than Free Form one, as there have been no standards for citing sources. Free Form data can be entered in an infinite number of ways and thereby defy attempts to convert information that may be contained in them into a standardized format (which is, of course, why one might want to use templates in the first place).

The way I handled the situation with my own data is that I have long tried to find a standardized method of citing sources. One of the earliest attempts for citing genealogical sources in a computerized database was done by the Silicon Valley PAF User Group. They did a tremendous job with what they had but, for the most part, their approach no longer works. Other's have also tried - my favorite book is "Cite Your Sources: A Manual for Documenting Family Histories and Genealogical Records" by Richard S. Lackey. Unfortunately, that book was written prior to the use of computers and is very outdated. Many of the templates that are now available in RM are based upon Elizabeth Shown Mills book "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace." Although she should be commended for her attempt to standardize citation practices, her ideas simply make a mess of things - not only is her book incredibly thick but the manner in which she cites sources is extremely inconsistent - this is easily observed in the vast number of templates available in RM. Even then, there are countless sources that cannot be addressed in the existing templates and, therefore, new ones must be created. Just trying to decide which template to use, or what information needs to be included in each one can waste enormous amounts of time.

In complete frustration, I finally gave up and created my own way of citing sources. I've now used it for the past few years and it has worked, with absolutely no problems for me in documenting everything I've come across. It is based on just one template (my rationale was that if I could find just one template to work with everything, then that would lead to a fully standardized citation system). In order to make things easier on me (yes, I'm lazy), I split that one template into three smaller ones. Again, it has worked flawlessly for me and I'm now converting all of my citations to use it. As with you, however, I also have a LOT of data that is very old and converting is very time consuming. What I've done is to always use my new approach (which I call "Simple Citations") whenever I enter new data. Under no circumstances will I use anything else. In addition, as I'm working on a line, I will manually convert old citations to use the templates.

If you're interested, you can see what I've done by looking at a site I've created: http://simplecitations.com I have also provided examples of how to enter data into the templates (it's a very simple process). The templates may also be download here: https://sites.google...e/rm4templates/ Of course, the important thing for you to do is cite your sources, 100 percent of the time. Whatever approach you use, make sure that you do it consistently.

Finally, I would strongly warn against using "Free Form" templates as they simply encourage what I call "junk genealogy" - they do not offer any standardized manner in which to enter or maintain your data. Essentially, Free Form templates are, by design, completely open ended and you merely dump whatever information you have into them. As I mentioned above, the information that one may place in a "Free Form" template is limitless - there are an infinite number of ways to enter (and format) the vast and essentially limitless types of documentation you will come across while researching your family history.

#4 kbens0n

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:08 PM

Mike, I have a contrarian view about the use of source template: yes for guidance in what content to include in a draft citation, no for storage and export. See http://sqlitetoolsfo...ource Templates

That linked page has a wikilink at the bottom to an UPDATED wikipage at http://sqlitetoolsfo...etter Free Form

I haven't studied that solution offered yet, Tom, but I have a question. Do the "workings" of that template depend upon Bruce *NOT CHANGING* how GEDCOM export -or- the templating system/tokens, ETC. are currently handled in the program?

---
--- "GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own." - Ambrose Bierce
--- "The trouble ain't what people don't know, it's what they know that ain't so." - Josh Billings
---Ô¿Ô---
K e V i N


#5 MikeZ

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:11 AM

First, thank you all for your suggestions, comments, and helpful links. Like APerson I struggle with how best to address this issue (I do like the flow chart). Each reply has helped me form my approach to documenting sources.

Second, it appears to me that in an effort to be consistent and create order, some authors have overly complicated something intended to simply identify a reference source for credit, future review, or other purposes.

I have been told I am a very analytical person - I like order, logic, and organization. Yet, occasionally, my logic does not follow the thinking of others... ;)

Nonetheless, my plan at this point is:
1) Leave the imported sources alone - perhaps "tweaking" them a bit as I encounter items to cleanup. An example would be moving text related to the how & when a census was taken from the footnote to the master text source comments area.
2) Use master templates, configured to my personal needs, for new sources.

Does this simplistic approach have any disadvantages? Is there something else I should consider?

User since Family Origins 2.0, Now using RM 7.5...


#6 TomH

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:18 AM

Kevin, I suppose the answer is that, because the !MyFreeForm3 template is a RM custom source template, it is dependent on Bruce continuing to support the export of historical custom source templates in future upgrades with a basic level of consistency. Having invested so much into his source template system, I have faith that he will. Moreover, this custom template is about as simple as it gets and contains no words in its sentence templates, only punctuation. I think it will be immune to changes that might be made to improve the quality of phrasing in exports.

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#7 TomH

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 10:00 AM

Does this simplistic approach have any disadvantages? Is there something else I should consider?

Just work through the whole process, from anticipated sources through to desired outputs. Like you, I leapfrogged some distance, from Family Origins 9 to RootsMagic 4 and the world of source templates. I embraced the concept, tried to be diligent and ran into problems of a fundamental nature.

Outputs: RM source templates are a closed and proprietary system - citations do not export well. If you are content with sticking to RM for all the outputs from your family tree database that require citations, then that Is a non-issue.

Inputs: The level of effort in entering a source and its citation is proportional to the number of fields in the source template. Many evidence resources provide a citation that you will have to parse into these fields; fewer fields, less parsing. I'm about to migrate around 400 people I have assembled in an Ancestry tree using its evidence-driven techniques so there will be thousands of citations. They import into Free Form but are verbose. The effort involved in converting these into complex templates is enormous and the outputs unsatisfactory. Instead, I use a SQLite script to batch convert them into more succinct !MyFreeForm3 templates with universally satisfactory outputs.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
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#8 APerson

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:48 PM

First, thank you all for your suggestions, comments, and helpful links. Like APerson I struggle with how best to address this issue (I do like the flow chart). Each reply has helped me form my approach to documenting sources.

Second, it appears to me that in an effort to be consistent and create order, some authors have overly complicated something intended to simply identify a reference source for credit, future review, or other purposes.

I have been told I am a very analytical person - I like order, logic, and organization. Yet, occasionally, my logic does not follow the thinking of others... ;)

Nonetheless, my plan at this point is:
1) Leave the imported sources alone - perhaps "tweaking" them a bit as I encounter items to cleanup. An example would be moving text related to the how & when a census was taken from the footnote to the master text source comments area.
2) Use master templates, configured to my personal needs, for new sources.

Does this simplistic approach have any disadvantages? Is there something else I should consider?


Hi Mike,

It sounds like your plan is a good one (in essence, it is exactly what I've done). As you stated, you will find that some authors (and there are not many of them) have overly complicated the matter that has ultimately only made the situation worse. There is nothing wrong with simplicity as long as whatever approach you use, serves your intended purpose. Converting existing data to use a consistent citation style is a very time consuming task but, at least when I've worked with my own data, I've found that it has finally resulted in the results I've desired for so many years. Although I haven't posted the flow chart I created on how to use my template on this forum before, here it is:

Posted Image


Basically, we should all collect "stuff" (e.g., "source documentation") to prove our family histories. With genealogical sources, that can be almost anything (including but not limited to photographs, cemetery records, certificates of all kinds, wills, census records, Bible records, Aunt Mabel's love letters to Uncle Egbert, etc.) - the list is essentially limitless. So, how do we cite all of this "stuff?" If you create a master template that is capable of addressing ALL genealogical sources, that clearly identifies ALL sources and also permits you to find that source again (within reason), then you're on your way to developing a consistent way to document your information. Creating a master template is exactly what I did; however, as most records use only a portion of the finite number of fields (and there really aren't that many) found on the master template, it's possible to split it into three smaller ones. This makes things easier to enter and minimize any decision making to what to put in each citation. The 3 smaller templates address essentially every type of documentation that you may come across. Therefore, all that needs to be done to find out which template to use is:

1. Toss your source into the top of the flowchart
2. If it's a census record, use the "Census Record Template" (that's a tough decision! LOL!)
3. If it's a "traditional source" (essentially something that would be found in a library), then use the "Traditional Template"
4. Everything else uses the "Non-traditional Template"

Simple! You have very little decision making involved and then just need to "plug in" information about your source into the appropriate template. The end results are extremely consistent citations that serve their intended purpose. More examples may be found on my web site (Simple Citations: Making Life Easier for Family Historians): http://simplecitations.com


When you compare the above process to what others have done (esp. Elizabeth Shown Mills "Evidence Explained") you will quickly discover that just the process of deciding which template to use often explodes into a flow chart that makes mapping the human genome look like an easy task! This is clearly evidenced (no pun intended) by the few bazzillion templates that come pre-packaged with RM and the fact that Shown's book is massive and yet can't possibly cover every type of source - not to mention that there is no consistency between her citations.

While I'm neurotic about documenting sources (as every family historian should be), I'm also really lazy and I hate wasting time on mundane tasks such as trying to figure out how to cite sources. I now spend far less time citing sources and more time researching and creating my family tree.

#9 R Steven

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:54 PM

Does this simplistic approach have any disadvantages? Is there something else I should consider?


One aspect others haven't mentioned yet is managing the concept of a master source and citation details. I find having more templates than Tom advocates helpful to take advantage of this capability. Having a well-designed template for a particular source saves me a lot of redundant entries when I'm documenting facts from many similar records. I'll give you an example to illustrate.

Right now I'm working on some Swedish research based on local parish records. Using a new index of these records, I find myself adding many citations daily from registers which are all in the same county and mostly restricted to three or four parishes in that county. In each parish there are predominantly four kinds of records which are the most helpful for genealogical research. Having my template set up with appropriate master (global) and citation (local) fields reduces the amount of information I need to type in to customize each citation. So, for instance, while I'm working on these records, I can use a template specific to birth/christening records in a given parish. Then the master information in the template can contain common information for all births/christenings such as church name, location, repository, and so forth. I restrict the citation fields to things which change between citations like page/image number, date accessed, and name of interest. As Tom mentioned, this makes for non-portable templates when moving to other systems, but for me the trade-off of easy entry is worth it.

Another point to consider on the lack of portability is that it isn't quite as bad as others have made it out to be. I moved to RM from another template-based system about a year ago. When I did so, all of the citations were imported as free-form sources. I have been able to handle the combination of free-form and template-based sources as follows:
  • If I was happy with the formatting from the other program (which was sometimes the case), I just made my RM templates produce the same appearance as the imported templates from the other system.
  • If I wasn't as pleased with the templates in the other system, it wasn't too hard to write conversion utilities (using SQLite tools, macros, or other programs) into the RM templates. Since the free-form citations were template-based, they had enough structure to make parsing and reformatting them pretty straight forward. Keeping a consistent structure to your sources will mean that it will be easier to take advantage of citation translation tools as they become available.


#10 RWells1938

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:00 PM

My 2 cents worth... I hope it's worth that much :)

The big problem with sourcing is that none of us agree to the same definations of what constitutes a source.

I have only one master source template which makes it easy. If it's not easy most of us will in the heat of the find say I will source it latter which never comes. It contains 4 master fields and 3 detail fields. It will show where I found the source and what I found.

I found that doing this the source detail and the source text were difficult to remember how I formated each one.

I run RM6 on a Mac so I wrote a applescript to format each source detail so all I have to do is fill in the blanks to create the detail exactly the same each time. I did not use the formating of RM6 because it dose not export to gedcom like I wanted it. Plus it is much easier to create a format than the RM templates. I have one script and within it several formats. I just select the format I want and fill in the blanks then paste it into RM.

Sample Output:
Kentucky Birth Certificate, Originator: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Publisher: Office of Vital Statistics, Frankfort, Kentucky, Fayette County, Year Filed YYYY, Certificate Number #####, Person(s) of Interest FFFFF MMMMM LLLLL, (recorded 16 October 2012). (Digital Copy: V001_034) (Paper Copy: B017)

When it comes to census I put what I found in the detail text I use the same script to format the way I list each person. This helps me to make it consistant.

Sample Output:
1940 U.S. Federal Census Population Schedule, Kentucky, Bath County, Publisher: Ancestery.com, Orem, Utah, Owingsville, Magistrate 5, Enumeration District 6-9, Sheet Number 2A, Line Number 30-32, Household of Gudgell Wells, (recorded 2 May 2012).
Wells, Gudgell, head, M, W, age 25, married, POB Kentucky
Wells, Grace, wife, F, W, age 19, married, POB Kentucky
Wells, FFFF MMMM, son, M, W, age 1, single, POB Kentucky

Lots of rambling but hope it makes some sense and is of benifit to someone..

Roger

#11 TomH

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:31 PM

Roger, to clarify, you use a script to create an entry form outside RM and copy its results into a RM Free Form citation Page field or is it into the 3 Source Detail fields of a Source created from your custom template?

The option of using RM Source Templates as simply a way of formatting the strings for Free Form (or preferably for MyFreeForm3 because it produces better Short Footnotes) is an item I wished for some time ago. Using something outside of RM to guide the drafting of the citation is a great workaround - could be a spreadsheet program or any suitable form handler.

I've also wished for GEDCOM sentence templates for each Source Template, whether built-in or custom, to overcome the shortcomings of the current general routine that tries to be a one-size-fits-all solution and fails miserably.

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#12 RWells1938

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:48 PM

Tom

I use the script to fill in only one of the detail fields. The bold information is what what the script dose for me. The other information comes from the RM template. The script runs outside of RM and puts the needed information into the clipboard. All I then have to do is press the cmd V to paste it into RM.

Sample Output:
Kentucky Birth Certificate, Originator: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Publisher: Office of Vital Statistics, Frankfort, Kentucky, Fayette County, Year Filed YYYY, Certificate Number #####, Person(s) of Interest FFFFF MMMMM LLLLL, (recorded 16 October 2012). (Digital Copy: V001_034) (Paper Copy: B017)

The script could have been setup to make a free form source by just adding the other information. But as I worked on it I made the decision to only do the one detail field and the detail text. To add information to the script only needs to add one line of code. I have good intentions :lol: of putting the formating text into a database but have not done it yet I am still debugging some of the format strings.

Roger

#13 APerson

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:55 PM

One aspect others haven't mentioned yet is managing the concept of a master source and citation details. I find having more templates than Tom advocates helpful to take advantage of this capability. Having a well-designed template for a particular source saves me a lot of redundant entries when I'm documenting facts from many similar records. I'll give you an example to illustrate.

Right now I'm working on some Swedish research based on local parish records. Using a new index of these records, I find myself adding many citations daily from registers which are all in the same county and mostly restricted to three or four parishes in that county. In each parish there are predominantly four kinds of records which are the most helpful for genealogical research. Having my template set up with appropriate master (global) and citation (local) fields reduces the amount of information I need to type in to customize each citation. So, for instance, while I'm working on these records, I can use a template specific to birth/christening records in a given parish. Then the master information in the template can contain common information for all births/christenings such as church name, location, repository, and so forth. I restrict the citation fields to things which change between citations like page/image number, date accessed, and name of interest. As Tom mentioned, this makes for non-portable templates when moving to other systems, but for me the trade-off of easy entry is worth it.

Another point to consider on the lack of portability is that it isn't quite as bad as others have made it out to be. I moved to RM from another template-based system about a year ago. When I did so, all of the citations were imported as free-form sources. I have been able to handle the combination of free-form and template-based sources as follows:

  • If I was happy with the formatting from the other program (which was sometimes the case), I just made my RM templates produce the same appearance as the imported templates from the other system.
  • If I wasn't as pleased with the templates in the other system, it wasn't too hard to write conversion utilities (using SQLite tools, macros, or other programs) into the RM templates. Since the free-form citations were template-based, they had enough structure to make parsing and reformatting them pretty straight forward. Keeping a consistent structure to your sources will mean that it will be easier to take advantage of citation translation tools as they become available.



Hi R Steven,

You bring up several very good points - the need for appropriate master (global) and citation (local) fields. It is this very situation that makes documenting genealogical information unique. The use of "master (global) and citation (local) fields" is also addressed in Simple Citations (the method that I've discussed) although I didn't discuss that above. The need for global citation fields allows you to use the same source, multiple times and the details can be individualized for each person referenced by source in the citation fields. You can find a discussion of this under the headings of "Master Source" and "Source Details" (essentially the same then as you describe as "citation [local] fields") here: http://www.simplecit...m/overview.html

You are also correct in noting that "the lack of portability is that it isn't quite as bad as others have made it out to be" - as the data within each citation is exported. Furthermore, your statement that "keeping a consistent structure to your sources will mean that it will be easier to take advantage of citation translation tools as they become available" is the most important of all as defining that structure has been the core of the problem of most citation systems. The lack of "consistent structures" by most citation systems is what has lead to the need for a multitude of templates. Standardizing that structure is what Simple Citations has done.

#14 TomH

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:43 PM

Global, local... Mike, that also is a consideration in the design of templates and the consequences of how much parsing you do to complete a citation and how long your Bibliography will be, if you use that feature in RM reports. We have a spectrum of 'lumpers' and 'splitters' when it comes to categorising how different persons manage their sources.

To use the US Census as an example, the most extreme lumper would have a master source that was simply US Census; every citation would have all the detail that identifies the year, type, repository, place, page, line, person of interest, to name a few fields resulting in but one entry in the Bibliography and the greatest amount of parsing repetitive data into the Citation fields.

At the other extreme, the splitter would have most of the fields in the master source with a title such as 1870 US Federal Census, Census Place: Millbrook, Mecosta, Michigan; ... and the Source Detail carrying only Page, Line, Person of Interest. The result is many master sources, a lengthy Bibliography but potentially much reduced parsing and data entry.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
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#15 MikeZ

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:23 PM

I do like the simpler approach and see that I've much to learn. I suspect that the forms I use to begin documenting my new sources and citations will most likely change over time as I sense that learning what works best for me will be an iterative process - taking small steps, making several changes along the way.

If what I went though today [cleaning-up my place names - 12 hours worth] is any indication, this will be somewhat time consuming. Hopefully, the learning curve will not be too steep... :wacko:

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#16 JPCarolus

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:54 PM

A. Person-I am looking at the Simple Citations website and thinking about downloading. This might be apparent to others, but which of your templates would you use for Vital Documents such as birth and death certificates? I'm not seeing any examples for this.

#17 APerson

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:47 PM

Hi JPCarolus,

Vital documents would use the "non-traditional" template. The logic that determines this is that they are

1. Not census records
2. Not "traditional records" in the sense that they are published materials as would be commonly found (especially individually) in a library.

I've provided a few examples on my website too: http://www.simplecit...m/examples.html I'll try to update the site later today to make things a bit more clear.

FYI, I've just made a very small adjustment to the templates (the first one I've made in nearly two years) in order to deal with a minor punctuation error that occurs in rare situations. I may be asking Renee to upload the new one sometime soon. Let me know if you have any other questions. Also, I'm using the new RM online site to provide some more examples of how Simple Citations works (I'm using some of my own data for that). I'll post a link to that soon too (there may be a minor problem with how RM uploads/replaces existing data and I want to make sure everything is okay with that too before I post the link).

Thanks!

#18 Jack

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:24 PM

I used to waste a lot of time trying to decide which template to use. After a couple of years I decided to create all "free form" and let the chips fall where they may. I think I can create a very short source that does what it's supposed to do: take me, or someone else back to where I found the info.
Jack

a posteriori

#19 Laura

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:29 PM

I use Free Form sources.

I create Master source templates for different type of sources which show up in the Source list.

For example:
Name: *Template, Census, [Year], [State], [County] County, Census [NARA#] (h+m+) *FF
Footnote: [Year] U.S. census, [State], [County] County, population schedule, NARA microfilm publication [NARA#]
Short footnote: [Year] U.S. census, [State], [County] County, pop. sch.
Bibliography: [Year] U.S. census, [State], [County] County, population schedule, NARA microfilm publication [NARA#]. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Master text entry
:
Source details Text entries (template):

Quality: Derivative, Don't know, Indirect

Page number:
Township, P. O., ED #, page #, dwelling #, family #, Head of Household, accessed date _____

The Source details template for that source is in the Master text for each source. I can read it in the rght pane when creating source citations and keep the Page number box entries consistant.

Marriage record, Newspaper, Court record, etc, source would have different Source detail templates in the Master source text.

#20 APerson

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:12 PM

I used to waste a lot of time trying to decide which template to use. After a couple of years I decided to create all "free form" and let the chips fall where they may. I think I can create a very short source that does what it's supposed to do: take me, or someone else back to where I found the info.


I don't waste any time now with the templates I created. I used to tear my hair out before I came up with my solution - I simply got fed up with trying to figure out which of the 20 gabazzillion templates to use that were required by other systems. I remember throwing up my hands in disgust after I couldn't find a way, using Evidence Explained, to document something as simple as an obituary (or a newspaper clipping). By having a standardized template, it makes things much easier to consistently document your sources. Of course, the important thing is that whatever you do, it must allow others to find the same source again.


I have just uploaded a sample of my tree using the new RM "Publish Online" service. That tree contains a very small portion of my total database (approx. 20 people) but I've documented them using my templates. As you'll see, the citations are all very consistent. That tree may be found at: http://my.rootsmagic.com/jlamarca