Become a Better Researcher

Our research problems are unique and our genealogy software, to be useful, must be flexible enough to match our respective problems and our respective methods. The Master Genealogist is that software, but power and flexibility has a down side. The more options a program has, the more decisions the user must make. This year, the Tri-Valley TMG User Group will explore those options and make some of those personal decisions. Would you like to play along with us? Do each month's assignment, and if you like, e-mail it to us at: We'll post some of the completed assignments on this blog each month. Let's hear it for choices!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TMG and Indexing - Final Thoughts

If you plan to publish a book, you will need to index that book. Therefore, you need to make some decisions, and you should make those decisions sooner, rather than later. Whether you have carefully crafted each tag to fit into the narrative, or whether your narrative is derived from one long memo tag, you need to make some choices.

Your narrative consists of carefully crafted tags without extensive memos

In this case, TMG can automatically create your index from the name variations used in each of those tag sentences. Review our discoveries in our July meeting on indexing. Choose your TMG index options and create name variations that fit your tag sentences and, as much as possible, create good index entries.

Your narrative consists of basic telegraph sentences and narrative tag memo chunks or a single, large narrative memo tag

You must choose a method to index names (and places) in those long memos. As I see it, you have three options.
  1. Manually mark each entry for indexing. Pros: (a) You can create the exact index entries you desire; (b) You can create multiple entries for each person or location. Cons: (a) This is tedious; (b) This is prone to error; (c) This lacks flexibility, if you want to change the index format. Warning: If your index combines TMG indexing of telegraph sentences with manual indexing of memos, make sure that the formats match.
  2. Use witnesses and roles for all names in your memo fieldPros: (a) Perhaps not error-free, but compared to manual index entries, this may be as close as you can get; (b) All methods require manual work, but this seems to be the easiest; (c) Since TMG is providing the index options, even when changed, the format is consistent for TMG sentences and for memos. Cons: (a) I'm not sure there's a way to create multiple index entries for a single name; (b) It may require imagination to combine the name variation necessary for the index entry with the name variation desired in the narrative paragraph; (c) Your index entries are likely to be inconsistent. Warning: You must create narrative memo tags in manageable chunks - otherwise, you'll be creating dozens of roles to handle dozens of people.
  3. Create a concordance file. Pros: (a) This probably yields the most professional result; (b) All indexing options are in the author's hands, since it even indexes the output of TMG's sentence tags. Cons: (a) Once prepared, the concordance file offers a lot of flexibility, but preparing it is laborious; (b) Names in memos must be marked with either the personal ID number or the reference number - less work and less error-prone than manual indexing, but still tedious. Warning: If using the ID number to mark your names, don't renumber your TMG database!


  • Creating a Name-Variation tag for standard index names might be a good idea, regardless of the indexing method you choose.
  • Some of the extra work creating the concordance file might be eliminated if you create a given-name-only name variation for each person. (Suggestion, not necessarily a recommendation)
  • I'm a telegraph sentence-narrative memo journal report creator, so I would be choosing from among the last three options. This is my personal evaluation.
    • If I choose to think about indexing at this point in the game, all three will require tedious memo markup.
    • Method (1): Most error-prone; least flexible; good final result.
    • Method (2): Least error-prone; reasonably flexible in index formatting; not very flexible in changing name formats consistently; least professional final result,
    • Method (3): Most flexible and consistent in name format and index format; most professional final results; requires the most preparation work.
None of these methods is perfect, and all require some work. Personally, I would probably go with Method (3), and am considering beginning the memo markup and the creation of Name-Index variations from this point forward. Regardless of your preferred methodology, if you plan to publish a family history, you must create an index. Choose your indexing method sooner, not later.