Thursday, March 15, 2012

Free Form Sources to Templates

 For 2012, I have taken on the task of cleaning up my family file. I started this file, "in the beginning", with Version 3.4. Many, many things have changed, both within the Family Tree Maker program and how I do and record my research. This will not be an easy task.

For this blog post, I will focus on how to get the Source and Citations from the Free Form Source / Citations what have been with Family Tree Maker, into the Template feature that was introduced in FTM2010. The end result, being the End Notes, and Bibliography Reports are so much improved using the Template, that it's worth the time, for me, to address this issue first. I have done some testing before, and with cleaning up about 5 Sources, I took 10 pages off of a report that I did.

This may sound complicated, and it may be for some, but once you have done it, it becomes easy.

BEFORE you do Anything, BACK UP YOUR FILE !!!!

I am going to do my Sources for the 1850 Census.

Below I have selected the Source Workspace, scrolled down to where the "collection" of 1850 Census Records are, that are in the Free Form format. I can tell, because it just says 1850 U.S. Census, Population Schedule. Other years will say YYYY United States Federal Census. That is the hint, to me, Free Form.

I want the Census to be by Location. (1850 U.S. Census, State, County)

The first entry is Jefferson County, Tennessee, and will select that entry.

 In the upper right, is the "Add" Button, to add a New Source, and in the pop-up window, will select New.

 This will bring up a new window, where a Keyword can be entered, to select a Template. Only type the first 3 characters of what you are looking for. In this case CEN (for Census)

Carefully select what Census you are working with. In this case, I am working with an 1850 Population Schedule. I have two choices, by  Census Year, and by Census Year and Location. That is the one I want. What this does, will allow you to save your Sources by State and by County. Having tried the first choice (by Census Year), I found that it was easier to choose the 2nd option. (users choice). I looked at the Output in both formats, and liked the output better, and locating Source and Citations later was easier, for me, with this format.

The following screen is presented. Entered the Census Year, State, and County. Let the next two fields blank, because at this point, at the Source level, that is unknown, but can be added later. The web site is The Database Publisher is Operations, Inc, and are located in Provo, UT, USA. Looking at all of the Source Material from Ancestry, this is the information provided by them. The Publish Year, will leave blank, but will edit that later, and the website is

Clicking OK, will create a New, Template, for the 1850 Census, for Tennessee, Jefferson County. Will leave the Citation Detail and Citation Text blank, as that will be filled in later.

 Returning to the unformatted Source, (1850 U.S. Population Schedule) and selecting that first Jefferson County, Tennessee Citation, in the Right Hand Panel, on the Right of that Source title, is a Pull Down Menu. Will now select the newly create, Template for the 1850 Census for Tennessee, Jefferson County.

What this will do, is to take this existing Citation, currently in the 1850 U.S. Population Schedule, and MOVE it to the 1850 U.S. Census, Tennessee, Jefferson County Template.

Going to that Source (Left Hand panel), you will now see TWO entries. The one we just put there, and the "no Source-Citation information" or Empty Citation. Right click on that Entry, after making sure there is nothing in the Right Hand Panel, and Delete that Entry. That entry was created with we just clicked OK a couple of steps ago.

This Citation is shown on the Right, and the Links (Facts) that came from that Citation are shown in the Linked Tab.

Not quit done, for me at least for this clean up.

I want to make sure that the Citation Detail information is complete. Some times, all of the citation details do not make it into the Citation Detail when doing a Web Merge. I want to make sure that I have the details.

In the lower right, there is a Link to View the online Record.

I pull up that screen and Copy (high-light and CTRL+C) the text as indicated below:

Back to FTM2012, selecting the Notes Tab, I will Paste (CTRL+V) that information into the notes. Then High-lite that first line and Paste it into the Citation Details in the Right Hand Panel.

The Citation Detail is now complete, but I want to make sure that I have the Image of that Census Record. The Media Tab is selected and I have that image. Other Blog posts have shown how to Add Media files to a record.

This process is repeated, moving or changing the Source from the Free Form format into the Template Format, adding New Census Sources as required.

It took me about 15 minutes to clean up my 1850 Census Records, from the Free Form format to the Template format. 10 new templates, 36 citations.
________________________________________________________________ Copyright © 2012 by H R Worthington


  1. Russ, as you, Randy Seaver, and others have pointed out, using the source citation templates in Family Tree Maker or practically every genealogy app (including web-based) means that, if you export your database to GEDCOM, your sources will be exported in free-form, since GEDCOM doesn't support source templates. People need to be aware of this before they try what you did at home. If they're committed to using their current app, then no problem. But if they think they'll transfer their data to another app or website, they might reconsider.

  2. Keith,

    Not to disagree with you, but even sharing files between applications with or without the template will have problems anytime you use GEDCOM.

    There are many test examples of this on:

    and the associated BetterGEDCOM wiki.

    GEDCOM is the issue, and not the template.


    1. I agree that GEDCOM has many problems, and I don't take issue with the templates themselves. However, until BetterGEDCOM or someone else comes up with a data exchange solution that's widely accepted, GEDCOM is what we're stuck with.

      My point was that a casual user might read your post and think that transferring their sources to the templates is a great idea without being aware that the templates probably won't transfer to another application, should they want to do so. If they're happy to stick with FTM, then you've given them an excellent set of instructions on how to do it.

    2. Keith,

      You have made your point.

      I generated a GEDCOM file from this file and opened it in Legacy Family Tree an all of my citations, as best that I can tell Made it. I know they have made it to Roots Magic.

      The key term, that you used, "probably won't transfer", would apply to any of the genealogy management programs that use "templates", not just Family Tree Maker.

      Sorry, but I am not going to stop entering my information into Templates because something may or may not work.

      My experience is that the Citations survive a GEDCOM transfer.


  3. Russ you have me laughing as I am also cleaning up my source groups and citations. Only I am going the other way! I started with over 1000 source groups and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find anything. I am now down to 558 and the number is decreasing. I have started lumping source groups together. Instead of 75 different source groups for the 1880 census, I now have a source group called 1880 U.S. Census and then I free form my citations. So far I lumped all my census records through 1920 this way and am working on the 1930 census. The biggest advantage so far, my source group list is significantly shorter thus making a bibliography also shorter. The next advantage is I can now source census records manually. I don't need a template. Another advantage is if I want to export my file to another program I don't have to worry if the templates transfer. I can now find sources I may need to use again very easily. For example I have a newspaper article from a Kentucky newspaper I need to source I just go to the source group called Kentucky newspapers and add my source. All I have to do is edit the reference note removing my source group title and everything prints great. For the census records I don't need to remove the source group title as it is part of the complete citation.


  4. Ann,

    Not a problem all. We all have choices.

    Just asking a question. Have you looked at you EndNotes? or any other Output from this change?

    As I mentioned earlier, the Template in a GEDCOM have very little if any impact. Template or Free Form will be Free Form in the GEDCOM.

    I am not worried about the Source Group issue.

    But what I have found in this clean up, is that the Free Form Sources and Citations, created individual People Citations. What I have done is to combine the Citations, like the Census Page has multiple people, now the Citation has those multiple people. I had 7 Citations for one Census Image, now it one.

    I tried the Census Year, not location, but during the earlier clean up, it didn't work as well for me as the Year and Location format.

    That is why we have choices.


  5. Russ,

    I have not looked at the endnotes and how it prints out. I am not a big fan of endnotes. I prefer footnotes. I really hate having to go to the end of a document to find source or additional information while I am reading a document.

    If I am understanding what you are saying, if you use a template than the number on the citation will be the same for all references to it instead of repeating the same citation multiple times. That may be a benefit I over looked. I don't use very many of the reports in FTM as I want to edit them in Word. With the change in 2008 and the loss of being able to copy and paste into Word I have been exporting my file to other programs for reports.


  6. Ann,

    Sorry, I did NOT say that about citations. But the Templates clean them up and make them consistent.

    You CAN Share / Export to an RFT file for Word.


  7. Russ, No problem that is why I asked.I have tried the export to RFT and I had problems with it. My guess operator error! I was very frustrated.My main problem was with the formating.

    P.S. By the way I love your blog you have given me some great tips for using the newer versions of FTM.

  8. Ann,

    Glad you like the blog and I appreciate your reading of it and commenting on it.

    Good luck in your research.


  9. Incredible page! Lots of family trees to choose from. Thanks for the help.

  10. Hi Russ,

    I know this is an old post, but I am trying to do some clean up also.

    Is there a easy way to change Census by Year, to a Census by Year and Location?

    Susan Johnson

    Thanks for what you do all us FTM users.

  11. Susan,

    One at a time. I am taking ALL of my "free form" Sources and moving them into the Template format.

    It's easy (that does not mean fast). Create the Template, then select the Citation that you want into the Template, and in the right hand panel, use the down arrow and select the Template for the Citation that you are working on. Basically, that keeps your Citation, and puts it into the Year, Location template.

    I did some editing on the Citation to meet the Evidence Explained!! format in the Reference Note.


  12. Russ, I need some clarification. Do I end up with one Year,State, County (1860 Tennessee, Jefferson County)or do I need several, every time the Page, Roll, etc changes?

    Thanks for your help,

    1. Susan,

      Using the Year, Location, you would need a New Source for each County. Each County can have many Citations. Each Citation would be for household. If you have two households on the SAME Census Page (2B), then you could have two citations, one for each household. If the Household was on two pages, you would have ONE Citation, with two images attached. The Citation would say 11A and 11B for exampled, with Line Numbers 35-40, and 1-3.


  13. Russ,

    Is there a way to create one Template per County and save it, and then just change the citations, are do I need to create a new Template every time?

    Thank you for spending your time with me!

    1. Susan,

      Not that I am aware of.

      But, the Year, Location IS BY County. So, the next household for that county, just create a new Citation.

      You DON'T Change a Citation you add a NEW citation for that next household. Remember, the Template is for the SOURCE.

      So, 1940 Maryland Census gets you started, but IF you look at the Template, you are asked for the County. The list of Source Groups would be

      1940 Maryland Baltimore
      1940 Maryland Frederick
      1940 Maryland Montgomery

      That's in the Left Column

      Selecting one of the above, would be the Citations for the Households.

      Also, if you really look at the fields you enter, AND the Reference Notes, you will see some words where you didn't enter information. So, there is some text that goes with the Template that we don't control. And that's a good thing.

      Hope that helps,


  14. So I can't have 1 Master Source template for ex. "1940 Maryland Baltimore" and just add a new Citation for each household.

    I think I am making a New Source template (per state,county) for each citation. So I have example more than one "1940 Maryland Baltimore" Templates.

    Is this right?

    Sorry for all the questions.


    1. Susan,

      That is NOT what I said.

      YES, you can have a 1940 Maryland Baltimore SOURCE, then Add a New Citation for each household.

      What you are trying to create is NOT a template but a Free Form source, then you will be adding Citations.

      That is NOT the same as using an FTM2012 Template.


  15. OK thanks Russ,

    I think I need to go back and research Templates first, and make sure I understand them.

    Thanks for all you help,

    1. Susan,

      The "Free Form" is sort of Template. There are a few fields for to Create a Specific SOURCE.

      That is where we started.

      From that Free Form Source, we Add Citations.

      OK so far?

      With the Template Feature, see select the Template we want to use for the Source. For example the Census Year and Location

      1940 Maryland Baltimore (largest to smallest)

      When we select the 1880 - 1940 Population Schedule, Year and Location, we are presented with a Form to fill out.

      That Creates / defines the SOURCE we want to add citations to.

      I have a bunch of 1940 Census Sources. Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, etc., each State has a number of Counties. It might be 1, in might be 4 (counties).

      1940 Maryland Baltimore County
      1940 Maryland Frederick County
      1940 Maryland Harford County
      1940 Pennsylvania Chester County
      1940 Pennsylvania Delaware County

      that is what is listed in the Source Grouping List.

      Each of those Templates have all of the fields populated based on the questions in the fields.

      So far, I haven't created ANY Citations that link to people.

      Now, I find a 1940 Census Record, for Maryland, Baltimore County. So, from the Source Group list, I select 1940 Maryland, Baltimore and click on Add. The is has basically 3 fields. Citation Details, Citation Text, and Reference Notes.

      Note: the reference note field is populated when you select Add, as in Add a Citation to this Source. That information comes from the Template for that Source.

      Now, you fill in the Citation Details. You will notice that there is some greyed text in that field. That is the information that you want to put into that field.

      When you Tab to the Citation Text, you will note that the Reference Notes is expanded. The Citation Details are now inserted into the Reference Notes.

      Then you fill in the Citation Text. Again, the hints are in that the field.

      When you tab out of that, the Reference Note is again updated. If you do NOT have a check mark in the Include Citation Text box, it will not be included.

      Here is an example of a 1940 Pennsylvania, Chester County 'new citation'

      Reference NOTE without any Citations:

      1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, (

      So, I put this into the Citation Details box.

      Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 - 34; John Marshall Highley household

      The Reference Note now looks like this:

      1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 - 34; John Marshall Highley household; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, (

      You will see in the above that the Citation Details were inserted into the Reference Notes.

      In this case, there is no additional information that the Citation needs for Evidence Explained format.

      I do have this, in the Citation Text:

      Record for John Marshall Highley

      That is only for me, as the Citation already had who the Head of Household was. Its not needed so I don't include the Citation Text box.

      OK - so I have another 1940 Pennsylvania, Chester County entry. I just select the Add ICON, above the right column, the blank Citation comes up and I repeat the process.

      Here is the Citation Details for the next household.

      East Bradford Township; enumeration district 15-231; sheet number 23-B; Route 52; family number 129 ; Lines 65 - 66; Ellwood Palmer Strode household

      The Resulting Reference Note:

      1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, East Bradford Township; enumeration district 15-231; sheet number 23-B; Route 52; family number 129 ; Lines 65 - 66; Ellwood Palmer Strode household; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, (

      Does that make sense?


    2. Russ,

      YES,this makes sense! This is what I was looking for, now I know what I was doing wrong. I just needed to click,

      "Add ICON, above the right column, the blank Citation comes up and I repeat the process."

      I was creating a new County each time.

      Thank you, Thank you, I think I've got it now!


    3. Susan,

      You are welcome.

      I'll create a blog post to spell this out.

      Thank you,


  16. Russ,

    What other information do you "copy and paste" from to your source citations?


    1. Allen,

      I don't USE any citation information from Ancestry or any other place. I DO COPY and Paste the "suggested" Citation information. I Paste that into the NOTES tab for that Citation.

      REASON: I move ALL of my Sources into the Source Template format. The Source Templates create Evidence Explained!! (EE) Source fields. Then, with the Citation Details, and Citation Text I provide the other information that EE wants to see. So, the Reference Note turns out like the First Reference Note suggests.

      I like to see the "suggested" Citation in the Notes for quick access to what Ancestry provided.

      For example: EE does not call for an Image Number or a FHL number for a Census Record. It's in what was in the Ancestry Citation, so I add it to the Citation Details.

      It's in the detail, but it would remind me that Ancestry was presenting a microfilm image, and their citation provided that image number, so I have chosen to include that in the Citation Details.

      Hope that is what you were looking for.

      Thank you for your comment.



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