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Source Templates

This morning, I watched part of the Wacky Wednesday episode: The Source Is Gone and hope to finish it watching it later today. During this presentation, Cousin Russ discusses how he is rethinking how he cites memorials on Find A Grave.

During the presentation, Cousin Russ compared the suggested citation for a Find a Grave memorial to how he was citing the memorial in his software. This made me curious about my own citations and how they compare.

Below is the suggested citation for the memorial of my second great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford.


When I looked at the footnote for the Find a Grave source in my software (RootsMagic), I found that the footnote was similar to the suggested footnote.


My footnote is ‘created’ using a template to enter the information.


The above template is a ‘custom’ template that I created. I often copy a built-in template and then customize the copy. I like using templates. They make it easy for me to remember to include the important elements in a citation. However, I had heard that templates don’t work well when data is exported – particularly via GedCom. This issue is discussed on the RootsMagic forum: ‘Templated Sources in GEDCOM and Data Exchange‘ and ‘Extreme Source Splitting and RM’s Source Templates‘.

To date, I have ignored the issue around how GEDCOM handles my sources created with the templates. Today, I decided to investigate what is happening to my sources when they are exported. One of the ways I export data on a regular basis is by uploading events and sources to Ancestry via RM’s TreeShare. Looking at the same citation on Ancestry, I discovered that whatever I put in Source Details is split from whatever is in the Master Source section of my template.


I also noticed that the words ‘created by’ or ‘photographed by’ were dropped. These words were not entered by me in the source details section of the template but part of the citation template.


Wondering how the citation would transfer using GEDCOM, I created a small GEDCOM file. I then imported that GEDCOM file into a different genealogy program: Legacy. Once I figured out how to view the source, I found that words ‘created by’ and ‘photographed by’ were also dropped.


After comparing the citation from the other software program to the citations from Find a Grave and from RootsMagic, I discovered that the order of the Source Details text in the Legacy footnote was in order entered in my template (top to bottom).

From this study of my citations and what happens during the export, I believe there are some things that I can do to improve the exported citations:

  • enter ‘created by’ and ‘photographed by’ in the Source Details instead of using the footnote template to add that text
  • change the order of the Source Details components in my Source Template to match the order that I would like the text to appear in a footnote

If I attempt either of the above changes, every individual in my RM program with a Find A Grave citation would be marked as ‘changed’ for TreeShare. Thus, I need to be willing to spend considerable time to make these changes and work thru the TreeShare list. At this point, I’m not going to make the changes to existing citations. However, I will likely create a new template to use for any new citations.