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Computer Users’ Group

March 13, 2007

Using Genealogy Programs Part 2

Some of what we will cover we covered in the past on January 17, 2002; November 19 and December 17, 2003; January 14, 2004; June, and November 16, 2005.


You can view several types of charts. Under VIEW there is the PEDIGREE VIEW that shows the ancestors of the selected individual. There is also TREE CHARTS under VIEW that lists ANCESTOR, DESCENDANT and HOURGLASS TREES in either STANDARD or FAN styles and a VERTICAL style for the ANCESTOR TREE. In addition there is an ALL IN ONE TREE. We’ll look at each tree and style.

Contents: Clicking on this box allows us to select what will go into each box, what title and footnote to use and how many generations to show. There is also a list of options that vary somewhat from tree to tree but generally asks how to handle duplicates and unrelated individuals.

Format: You can use any one of several templates, some fancy and some to save space. One template (PORTRAIT) is for including a picture of each individual. You can further format the layout by choosing TREE FORMAT and selecting from the options offered. Use BOOK LAYOUT to get your chart formatted onto individual sheets; otherwise you’ll print a wall chart. You can also choose maximum box size and how the boxes and connecting lines will look and what type of font to use. PAF does not have these features; you can go to FILE/PRINT REPORTS and select ANCESTRY or DESCENDANT to preview and print but they are outlines rather than charts.

Export or Print: Once you are happy with your chart, you can print it or export it and print it. But with relatively large charts it might be useful to have an index to make individuals easier to find. You can go to BOOKS and select NEW BOOK and enter the required data for title and author and click on OK. On the page that follows, select the chart that you want in your book and click on ADD and then select INDEX and click on ADD. You can then click on PREVIEW and see what you’ve created and can then save or print it. When you print it, you’ll have the option of PAGES TO PRINT. For back to back printing you can select all odd and print and then all even and print. For one of those options you should select PRINT IN REVERSE ORDER. The order in which you select pages to print and which to reverse print depends upon your printer. You can reduce the number of generations to 4 or until you get only 4 pages and test how you printer works and then use that information to print your full tree. PAF only allows exporting to other LDS programs.

If you choose CUSTOM for the TREE FORMAT you will print pages that can be trimmed and pasted together or onto a poster board to form a wall chart. My chart would be 4 pages wide by 30 pages high (listed as 24.6 by 313.9 inches). That would require a wall over 26 feet high. You can choose not to have boxes overlap pages and you can change the template to use less space.

Organization: How you organize your collected paper files is a matter of choice. Some people like to separate their research into files based on their four grand parents or other individuals. You can create an index of ancestors of each of your primary individuals. Select Ancestor Tree for each person that you want an index for, add name and author as above and include the chart and index in the book. Select PREVIEW BOOK and then in the left hand column, starting from the last page, preview pages until you come to the first page of the index. Select FILE/PRINT and in the PRINT RANGE dialog box PAGES FROM and enter the page number you just found. Click PRINT to print from there to the end and you’ll have a listing of all of the people whose data should be in the selected person’s file. Repeat this for each of your lead individuals. In PAF, go to PRINT REPORTS and select PEDIGREE and click on INCLUDE INDEX. Go to PREVIEW and note what pages the index is on and then go to print and print only those pages.

Publishing Your Genealogy: If you want to publish proceed as above and provide a title and author and the select the items that you want included in your book. Then you can click on PREVIEW BOOK and see what you have created. Unfortunately, it’s in Adobe Acrobat format and can’t be edited without Acrobat or other program that can open and edit Acrobat files. You might be better off to Create your own Title Page in your wordprocessor and export each file that you want to include as RTF files. The hitch there is that you can only export charts as Acrobat Files. But you can print them and add them to your book but you’ll have watch page numbers.

If you choose to publish your genealogy on the web, there are several ways to do that. One benefit of publishing it there is that it makes a great backup in case something happens to the original. Start with a GEDCOM file of what to want to publish. You can then submit that file to Rootsweb for inclusion on WorldConnect Family Trees. Go to and then find FAMILY TREE (WORLD CONNECT) and click SUBMIT YOUR FAMILY TREE. You can also create your own home page and use the GEDCOM file to create an HTML page for inclusion. One of the better programs for that purpose is UncleGed that is a free program from In PAF you can do the same or you can go to TOOLS and select CREATE a WEB PAGE and then edit the list to include the data you want to include and find out from your ISP how to post it.

Adding Multimedia Files

Multimedia files can be added to your genealogy to make it more personal. Those would be photos, audio files, video or documents. These are Objects about which FTW says An “Object” is an item such as a video or sound clip, a spreadsheet, or some other type of document that can be transferred from one software program to another. These can include photographs; videos; sound recordings; images of wills, obituaries, birth, marriage or death certificates, etc. You go to PICTURE/OBJECT and choose the operation you want to perform. Select the location of the pictures or the other objects that you want to add to your genealogy. Obviously, only images will show up in your printed output but the other objects will be available for view or hear on your computer. Note that PAF calls these files multimedia whereas FTW refers to them as pictures/objects.

Splitting/Exporting/Merging Files

Splitting a File: There may be good reasons why you would like to split a file such that it becomes two or more independent files. You and your spouse want to work independently; you want to concentrate on a specific aspect of your heritage or you want a separate a file for an ancestor that you are preparing a report on. Some people like separating their research efforts into four parts represented by each of their grandparents and keeping separate files on each. Splitting your file four ways may be useful if you follow this method. Whatever the reason, the original file can be split to separate the part or parts that you want to concentrate on from the rest of the file.

Go to FILE/EXPORT FILE/SELECTED INDIVIDUALS and choose the person whose file you want to separate from the rest. Then choose whether you want to export the person’s ancestors or the person’s descendants. This will create a new file but will leave that person’s data in the original file totally unchanged. This may be all you need but be mindful that changes made to he exported file will not be reflected in the original file. You can, however, merge it back in at a later date.

When you export a file you are given a choice of format for the exported file. In the file name box, enter the name that you wish to assign to the file. In the Save as Type box, save it as the default Family Tree Maker file if you will be using it in the program from which you exported it; otherwise, click the arrow to see a list of available formats. Choose the one that’s appropriate for your intended use. To move it between programs or for uploading it to the Internet, choose GEDCOM (.GED). We covered GEDCOM files back on January 17, 2002. It’s a text file that adds tags that tell relationships among individuals in a file and can be used by most programs to re-construct the original no matter what program it was written in. Certain items do not transport if they use non-standard tags. Links to the GEDCOM specification may be found in the Jan 17th page. Note that the gedx links on that page no longer work.

To split between spouses, you will need to export each spouse’s file and then you will have two files that should add up to the original. You also will have the original that will remain unchanged. Changes to either of these spouses’s files will not be reflected into the original file. If you decide to merge these two files, they cannot assume the name of the original unless you delete, move it or rename it. In PAF go to FILE/EXPORT and select PAF 5. Under filter click on PARTIAL and then SELECT. Choose the individual and then in the Relationship File select what set of relatives you want to export and click SELECT. From the next page choose the number of generations to include and whether to include wives and click OK Choose the data to include and press EXPORT. Repeat for each individual you want to split off.

Merging Files: Careful. If you’ve found something on the Internet and want to merge it with your data, verify that the data that you’re adding meets your standard for accuracy. You may also want to merge two or more files that you’ve previously split, merging them back one at a time. In later versions of FTW you can merge files from previous versions of FamilyTreeMaker including DOS and early Windows versions. You can also merge PAF files and Ancestry Family Tree (AFT) files. There are two ways to accomplish a merge. FTW HELP suggests opening the file that you want to be the resultant file (destination) and then going to FILE/OPEN , navigate to the folder containing the file that you want to merge and select the file that you want to merge and then click on APPEND FILE. You will be given a list of individuals to merge and you may choose a person and whether his or her ancestors or dependents should be included. Or you may just go to FILE/APPEND MERGE and get the same result. You may be asked if you want to back up your file before proceeding. It’s a good idea to do that in case the results are not what you want. You will always have the file that you started with to go back to and start over. Either way, if there are duplicate individuals, you will be asked which version that you want to keep. One listing may have more data or more accurate data. Choose carefully.

Batch Printing: You can batch print Family View Pages, Family Group Sheets and Scrapbooks. This allows you print the same document type for several individuals at once. Open the page that you want to print and then go to FILE/BATCH PRINT. Select from the options presented. You’ll have the option to change the font or just click OK to continue. You’ll then be presented with a list of individuals from which to select the ones whose page you want to print. Remove any previously selected individuals that you don’t want to include and then add ones that you do want included. (> adds the selected individual, < removes it, << or >> select all.). Press OK when you are done and from the next box choose how you want the pages numbered. They can be consecutive for all pages or consecutive only within each individual set or not numbered at all. Click OK to print.

File Backup: If you select AUTOMATICALLY BACKUP FAMILY FILE you will create a backup file every time that you close the program. But that backup file will reside on your hard drive unless you tell it otherwise. Under FILE/BACKUP you can choose a different location to backup your file which will offer greater protection in case of a hard drive crash. If you don’t want to back up to a removable disk all of the time, you should at least occasionally back up to a floppy or a CD. If you don’t want to change drives with this setting, you can continue to backup to your hard drive and then copy that file to a floppy, CD or Flash Drive. The file will have the original file name with the extension .FBK as in Family File.FBK. When you select AUTOMATICALLY BACKUP FAMILY FILE you run the risk of making a mistake from which you may not easily recover. Many programs allow you to close a program without saving in case you’ve deleted something by mistake and would just like to re-open the original file and start over. FTW automatically saves on closing so it does not allow that because it saves your mistake over the unchanged file when you close it. Automatically backing up the file only compounds the problem. Automatic backup is the default. You should use the manual backup option FILE/BACKUP and tell the program where to back it up. This file has an extension of .FBC is a compressed version of the original and will not overwrite a previous backup without your permission.


Restore Family File: If your file gets lost or corrupted, you can use the backup file to replace it. This gets tricky because if you close the corrupted file it may automatically overwrite itself and your backup unless automatic backup is not selected.. Go to FILE/RESTORE FROM BACKUP and enter the name of the backup file and press OK and then enter a new file name such as FAMILY FILE 1 for the restored file. You can then delete the corrupted file and rename the new file as the old file.

Protecting Sensitive Information: Go to FILE/PRIVATIZE to temporarily privatize information. This function eliminates dates for all living persons so that the file can be safely publicized either as hard copy or as an electronic file. Note that any changes made to the file while it is privatized will not be retained. So privatize it, publish it and then remove the privatization.