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

More on Indexing

If you plan on using TMG to create the basis of a 500-page book, then it's a good idea to study the various options in TMG's indexing feature. We covered a lot of those options in our July 2015 meeting, recapped in four parts. If you plan to include extensive and beautifully written narratives in that book, you may want even more from TMG's index. Is it possible to index TMG's narrative memos reliably, consistently, and easily? That's the problem that plagues one of our members, and he brought his questions to the RootsWeb TMG-L mailing list. I followed that message string and decided to test what appeared to be the simplest suggestion: using Witnesses in specific Roles.

My Memo field
My Journal reports usually consist of a telegraph paragraph comprising the subject's BMDB tags and memo fields in my custom Comments tag - and source citations, of course. Since I focus on shorter research articles, I seldom worry about indexing, but if I did, how easy would it be? I could manually enter indexing codes in the above memo, but according to replies by Michael Hannah and Terry Reigel, adding Witnesses with Roles to this memo would result in index entries, too. Let's try it!

Tag entry screen showing Memo with Roles
In the example, Samuel's sons, Samuel, Thaddeus, and Josiah, have been added to the tag as witnesses. In the original memo, only the given names of Samuel Ward's sons were included in the paragraph, and the sons were not entered as a simple list. To replicate this memo, I needed to assign a separate role to each son; then, replace the given name with the role assigned to each son, selecting the "Given name" option for that role. The easiest sequence is: Right click at the point in the paragraph where the name should appear > Role > [Select relevant role] > Given name > and select. If I want to replace "Thaddeus" in the original paragraph with his role, the result of this sequence is [RG:Name2], translated as "the given name of the person assigned the role of Name2." The report output is "Thaddeus".

I simply called these roles Name1, Name2, Name3, etc., and it's very easy to add a new Name# if my memo field has several names. One could create specific name variations to be used in indexing; for example, a married woman could have an index name variation such as "Catherine Rollins (née Ward)", which TMG would index as "Rollins, Catherine (née Ward) (1807-1888)". Nice! Of course, since you might not want the name entered in the narrative as Catherine Rollins (née Ward), you would want to use only the first or given name variations in the memo entry.

Tag entry screen showing memo and witness name variation with index output
This looks like a good way to index memo entries. For someone whose narrative memo field may run to ten pages in length, however, there might be a problem. A long memo might require a lot of roles! Score one for breaking up a narrative into multiple small chunks. There is another method to be considered, not as simple, but perhaps even more powerful. Are you ready?

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