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Source Templates

Do you remember writing that research paper when you had to create footnotes and a bibliography? Did all those commas and periods cause you headaches? Or are you young enough that you just used sites like Easy Bib to do it for you?

When it comes to creating those footnotes and that bibliography for our genealogy records, I think we are all looking for that ‘easy’ button. For some, that button might be using the ability to create ‘free form’ citations to copy/paste citation information from Ancestry. For example, the Ancestry source, Indiana, U.S. Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993, has source information that could be copied into genealogy software.

I have not adopted this method of citing the sources of the information in my file for several reasons:

  • sometimes, I want more information than copying/pasting provides
  • sometimes, the source does not provide the copy/paste option
  • I don’t want to have to create the footnote from scratch.

However, I do want an ‘easy’ way to do this. Thus, I use what might be called

Cheat Sheets

In RootsMagic, what I call ‘cheat sheets’ are source templates. These built-in source templates cover a wide variety of potential sources.

Each of these templates has their own set of fields that are put together to form the footnote and the bibliography. Thus, I don’t have to remember the order for the fields in a footnote or the punctuation.

There are plenty of these source templates. Many of them are based on various standards for sourcing genealogical information. The 2013 “Sources” lesson by the Central Alberta RootsMagic Users explains the various references these templates are based on.

These built-in ‘cheat sheets’ work well unless or until one wants to modify a template. When that happens, one learns that these templates cannot be edited. Nor is it currently possible to switch an existing source to a different template.

Once I discovered this inability to modify a template, I started creating my own templates – by copying an original template, naming my copy and making desired modifications. For example, I copied the ‘Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images) template.

When I save the copy of the template, I use a naming standard for the templates. The templates that I’ve ‘created’ all have names that start with ‘_EE_’ That places these templates at the top of my list of templates. Thus, my copy of the census template is named _EE_Census, U.S. Federal (Online images).

Since I can edit these copies, I’ve added information about the image number and total number of images to the template. When working with these templates in RootsMagic 7, there are two sections: Master Source and Source Details.

Thus the template provides prompts for the types of information I need to add for the source. If I have already created the source, the top portion of the window (yellow in my case) will already be completed, I just have to fill in the bottom portion (green).

When I am working with a source that isn’t already in my RootsMagic 7 database, I click on the ‘Add New Source’ button. This opens a window to ‘Select Source Type’ which is a list of available source templates.

The type of source I’m working with will determine which template I select. Sticking with an online census records as the source, I would locate my template for online census records. This would open an ‘Edit Source’ window.

This window prompts me for the various fields needed to create the footnote and bibliography entry. In the light gray are hints for what might be entered in that box. In the example shown, both the Master Source and the Source Details portion of the screen is shown. Occasionally, when creating a new source, this window will only show the yellow, “Master Source,” portion of the screen until after the source is created. At that point, selecting the source will open the window to enter the ‘Source Details’ information.

So, how does this work in RootsMagic 8?

After working with the RootsMagic 8 preview, I believe it works in a similar manner — with one exception. The term, CITATION, is being used instead of the ‘Source Details’ terminology.

If I look at the record for Elisha Vance Briggs, I can see that there is a pen icon to the right of his 1880 residence fact. Clicking on that fact places the information for that fact on the right side of the window. Under sources, it shows a citation for ‘Census-1880 IN Warren Coun…’.

Clicking on the green > to the right of the citation name will open the ‘Edit Citation’ window.

This window is prompting for the same set of information what was entered as ‘Source Details’ in RootsMagic 7. The major difference that I see is that I cannot modify the ‘Master Source’ from this screen in RootsMagic 8 while I was able to make a modification in RootsMagic 7. I am sure this is by design since it will prevent me from ‘messing up’ a source. Since I know that I have used this ability to edit the ‘Master Source’ while entering the ‘Details,’ I will have to train myself to study to footnote at the bottom of the screen. If the footnote has back to back commas, or appears to be missing information, that will be a clue that I need to go edit the Master Source.

To edit the Master Source, I will need to switch to the ‘Sources screen’.

On this screen, I need to find the desired source. In the example, the source name is Census-1880 IN Warren County. To locate that particular source, I can scroll down or I can use the search box. One search option would be to start typing in the name of the source.

Another way to search would be to enter the name of the county in the search box. This is quicker to type in – but yields a longer list of results.

Either way, I need to locate the desired source in the list and click on it. That will show the information for the source in the ‘Edit Source’ portion of the screen on the right.

Any change I make here will affect every use of this source. In this example, that would be 21 citations.

Thus, it is essential to understand which fields are ‘universal’ for the source and which fields are ‘specific’ for the citations. To understand the difference, one has to go back to the source template.

A study of the list of fields for the source indicates that some have a ‘Y’ in the citation column while other fields are missing the ‘Y’. Any field with a ‘Y’ is NOT part of the master source. Instead it forms the ‘Details’ or ‘Citation’ portion of the source. Since I work with my own templates, I can click on the EDIT button.

Clicking on a field and then clicking on the Edit Field button opens the ‘Source Template Field’ window.

This window appears to be the same in RM8 as in RM7. In the above image, the field is for the page number of a census record. I have a check mark for ‘This field is a source detail field’ since I don’t want that piece of information in my Master Source. That little check mark is what causes the ‘X’ in the ‘D’ column of the Source Template image above or the ‘Y’ in the Citation column in the Source Templates image above that.

I have found that understanding source templates and how they help create sources has helped me understand the way RootsMagic 8 handles sources and citations.

2 thoughts on “Source Templates

  1. Would you please share many examples of how you name your master source files? That’s where I am struggling.

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