Cleaning Up Bad Citations

Do you ever have to do a ‘clean-up’ in your genealogy database? Whether you do or not, I know I do. I recently figured out that some of my citations did not ‘convert’ well when I moved my data from The Master Genealogist to Roots Magic. Thus, I have some ‘bad’ citations to clean up.

Even though I knew these bad citations existed in my database, I had no clue how to go about finding all of them. Thus, I posted a query in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook.

Although, it isn’t possible to create a report listing these citations, a kind user posted some steps to try and locate those hints.

You could enter the Source template a source is made from in the Master source Comments section. Enter the source template name or part of the source template name in Find everywhere as a search criteria. This report will give you the Master sources. It will not give you the people or facts the Master source is linked to.

Save the Find everywhere report. It saves as a .hmt file. Open the .hmt in a browser. Copy the file into the Windows clipboard and paste it into a text file.

The Source list report prints all Master sources or a selected Master source. The report doesn’t print the source template the Master source uses. If you check Citation details, the report prints the person’s name and where the Master Source is linked.

Create a Group of the people that have Master sources made from a Source template that is entered in the Master source comments.

Any fact, source, comment contains,

or Source (General), comment contains

or Source (Family), comment contains.

You can put the main view on Timeline and select each person in turn in the Group in the Sidebar. Click on the check mark in source column to open the Citation Manager for a Person, Spouse, or fact.

You can also click on the source icon above Spouses, Parents in the upper left of the main screen to see where a person has linked sources. Click on an item in the list to open that Citation manager.

I changed my Master source names to add the source type to the beginning of the name and standardize the way I entered the rest of the source name. It makes it easier to find a Master source of a certain type or create a Group. It took me awhile to finish it, but it was worth doing.

Birth – AR – Sebastian – 1877-1963 – Birth and Death – FamilySearch

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – Ancestry

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – FamilySearch

Funeral home – OK – Oklahoma – Oklahoma City – Bill Eisenhour Funeral Home, Web

Funeral home – TX – McLennan – Fall and Puckett Funeral Home

Marriage – IL – All – 1763-1900 – Statewide Marriage Index – Web

I divided elements of rhe source name with – to make it easier for me to read.

Where and how you enter information in RootsMagic determines what RootsMagic feature you can use to get that information back out of Rootsmagic.


Unfortunately, my bad citations are not based on one or two (or even a few number of) master sources, but individual sources. Thus, I can’t retrieve all of the erroneous citations without knowing who they are attached to.

So, I’m experimenting. I’ve identified two source templates with bad citations. One of those is _TMG_E-Mail Message. Using the hint above, I edited the source template to add the word ‘CITATION’ to the footnote template.

I then pulled down the SEARCH menu and selected FIND EVERYWHERE.

I put the word, ‘CITATION’ in the top line of the FIND EVERYWHERE box and clicked OK.

The resulting report shows the people and events with citations using this Source Template

This search identifies the sources and should help me find the people.
I tried creating a ‘marked group’ for anyone with a source footnote containing the word ‘CITATION’. That pulled up the sources using the _TMG_Ship Passenger Lists but NOT those sources using the _TMG_E-mail message template.

After some more help via Facebook, I modified my template to add TMG

I then used the mark group feature to ‘Select people by data fields’ and followed the suggestions received via FB.

Any fact – source – footnote contains – TMG

and any fact – source footnote contains – e-mail

That search produced a list of individuals that should have these badly formatted citations. Now, I can work thru this list of people and correct the citations.

As a work-around until I can get all of these citations corrected, I modified the Source Template. The original _TMG_E-Mail Message template used the following format:

[Author], TMG e-mail message from [AuthorE-Mail] ([Address]) to [Recipient]<, [Date]><, [CD]>.

Thus, it implied that all of these sources were based on an email message when they were actually county records. Therefore, I modified the template to the following:

<[Address]. ><[Cd].>

Below is an example of the resulting footnote:

Footnote: Leavenworth County Kansas. Vol. 33, page 633 (Curry.Notebook).

Even though this footnote is still incomplete, it is much better than how the template originally formatted it.

If it wasn’t for other users in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook, I wouldn’t have figured out how to begin resolving this citation issue.

Bad Citations

Do you have older source citations in your tree that your high school English teacher would yell at you about? Do you have source citations in your tree that even you can’t use to locate the information?

I don’t know about you, but I have such sources in my tree. As I’m reviewing my Crawford research, I’m finding those source citations.

Most of these HORRIBLE citations came from my early days of research when citation standards were just being developed. 

If I look at one of those ’email message’ citations, I find it attached to a residence fact.

If I go back to my genealogy file from The Master Genealogist and look at the event, I find that, although incomplete, I had a source that was NOT based on an email message.

My only explanation is that the source was somehow corrupted in the transfer to RootsMagic.

Unfortunately, I’ve deleted those ‘bad’ sources from events in the  James Crawford (1758-1836) timeline on RootsMagic. Thankfully, I haven’t deleted those bad sources from everyone in my database. I can use the RootsMagic and the event to which it is attached to find my way back to the same source in The Master Genealogist.

Roots Magic Source
Same Source in The Master Genealogist

Since those sources were in my Roots Magic database when I used TreeShare to upload my data to Ancestry, those BAD sources are in my Heartland Genealogy tree on Ancestry.

Unfortunately, at this time, I don’t know how to find all of those sources. Basically, I need a report in RootsMagic that will print all sources using a specific source template and the person and event to which that source is attached.

I’ve learned my lesson! My poorly cited data hinders my own research as well as keeping others from following my line of thinking.

Wish me luck as I try to clean up this mess!