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, July 21, 2015

Recapping the July Meeting - Part Four

Your TMG report may include an index, but that index is not printed by TMG. It must be populated by your word processor program. I'm sure the manner of doing this varies from program to program, but all of them probably have a dialogue box that allows you to format that index before it is inserted into the document. You should experiment with these options, too.

Word index dialogue box
This screenshot shows the format options we selected at our meeting. Note that as you change these options, the Print Preview will show them in action.
  • The indented format was already selected when we opened the dialogue box. It matches our selection in TMG. This is a TMG format choice that can be changed in the word processor.
  • We chose to use a three-column format. It saves paper, and it is easily read.
  • Note that we chose to right-align the page numbers and included a leader. This choice made our index look neat and clean, and it was very easy to read.
That's as far as we got at our meeting. We created a very satisfactory index, but I wanted to play a little more. I decided to investigate that Modify button, circled in the screenshot. This is what I found.
Index style dialogue box
This dialogue box allows the user to select an index level and modify its style. In my index, I modified the font size, font weight, and paragraph spacing for Level 1, and I modified the font weight for Level 2. Voila!
The index
The indexing options in TMG and your word processor deserve exploration. A book-length publication without an index will not be read, and you have wonderful tools to make sure your well-researched, well-documented book is also used and enjoyed.

For more information on TMG indexes, read Barbara Grempler's article on the WhollyGenes forum. Don't forget TMG's help file! Whenever you're investigating a TMG feature, you should always check it out.

[Note that the help file claims that one can enter a person's ID number in the manual code, instead of that person's name. Perhaps that worked in an earlier version of TMG, but I have been unable to make this work in version 8. I have not tested it yet in version 9.]

Recapping the July Meeting - Part Three

 You've played with all TMG's indexing options, and you now have an index you like. How can you make your manually coded index entries match? Let's look at how Word sees TMG's indexing code. Our manual codes should match this format.

Word page showing indexing codes
The easiest way to show all the various codes contained in a Word document is the click the paragraph icon (highlighted by the red arrow in the image above). This illustration comes from a Word 2013 document. Your version of Word may not look exactly the same, but it will contain this icon somewhere. Important! Before populating your index, click this icon again to hide the codes. They add a lot of pages to your document.
  • The index code shown for the name Thaddeus Ward is: {xe "People:Ward:Thaddeus (1779-1863)"}. The colon separates index levels, so Level 1 is People (TMG's index name); Level 2 is Ward (TMG's surname); and Level 3 is Thaddeus (1779-1863) (TMG's given name and lifespan). If we hand code this in a TMG memo field, this is what we would enter. Word won't see any difference in the automatic TMG entry or the manual entry.
    • [INDEX:]People:Ward:Thaddeus (1779-1863)[:INDEX]
Place names are a little trickier to code, because we chose to include index entries by detail, city, and county. Thaddeus Ward died in Danville, Caledonia Co., Vermont. If we were manually coding this in a memo field, we would need to create an index entry for Danville and for Caledonia Co.
  • Analyzing Word's code for Danville, we see {xe "Places:Danville:Vermont, Caledonia Co."}. Again, index levels are separated by colons, so Level 1 is Places (TMG's index name); Level 2 is Danville (TMG's city); and Level 3 is Vermont, Caledonia Co. (TMG's containing place elements, largest to smallest). Here is TMG's manual entry for the same index code.
    • [INDEX:]Places:Danville:Vermont, Caledonia Co.[:INDEX]
Do you remember the Occupations section of the index? It was created by entering this index code in a memo field: [INDEX:]Occupations:Farmer (or other relevant occupation):Surname, Given Name (Year-Year)[:INDEX].

Manual index code for an Occupations index
You are not limited to People, Places, and Marriages indexes. If you choose, you can create some interesting indexes of your own. What would these look like?
  • [INDEX:]Ministers:Surname: Given Name (Year-Year)[:INDEX]
  • [INDEX:]Ships' Passengers:Ship name:Surname, Given Name (imm. Year)[:INDEX]
  • [INDEX:]Cemeteries:Cemetery (City, State):Surname, Given Name (Year-Year)[:INDEX]
TMG allows up to three levels of index codes, but if you choose to create an index with your word processor, you will be able to create additional levels.

"This is a lot of work!" you say. You're right. If you determine an indexing format you like, and you stick with it, adding index codes in TMG as you enter your data will streamline this effort. If you plan to vary your index content and format, you should consider skipping TMG's index and create your index, start to finish, with your word processor.

Ready to format your index? Head to Part Four of this meeting recap.

Recapping The July Meeting - Part Two

The contents of our index is determined by the choices we make in the Indexes tab in the Report Options screen and the manual index codes we insert in our memo fields. This screen shows our choices, and you can read some of our discussion points.

Experiment with the options on this screen until you get the index you prefer.

Indexes tab in the Report Options screen
  1. Our People index section includes a surname index. There is no separate index by given name. Included in each entry under a specific surname is the given name with the lifespan, years only, in parentheses. Because we did not include a given name index, checking or not checking "Combined index" in this section is irrelevant. (Note that I could not see any difference in the index if "Also use sort template" was checked or not.)
  2. Three different place elements are included in our Places index: place detail (L2), city (L3), and county (L4). The larger containing elements for each one are listed largest element first; e.g., "Vermont, Caledonia Co." are the larger containing elements for index entry "Danville."
  3. Although we played with the Marriages index, we did not include it in this report. Note that separate bridge and groom indexes can be created or the two can be combined.
  4. Checking "Combined index" in this area combines the People and Places indexes. This might be okay for a small report, but might be very confusing for a larger report.
  5. We liked the appearance of the index when the subheadings were indented. It seemed very clean and clear. Would you like to know what the index looks like when "Merge all indexes" is checked? Experiment! :-)
If you include extensive narratives in your journal reports, you must also index those narratives. This can be done in Word (or your word-processor of choice), or it can be done in TMG. Of course, you want your manually coded index entries to match those created by your TMG option choices. Are you ready for Part Three?

If you don't want to mess around with adding index codes to your TMG memo fields, but you do want to learn more about formatting your index, skip Part Three and head straight to Part Four.

Recapping the July Meeting - Part One

There's a lot more to creating an index than meets the eye! That's what I took away from the first half of our July TV-TMG User Group meeting.
  • Not all TMG reports include an option to create an index - and those that do require that the report be sent to a word-processor. We chose a Journal report for our experiment.
  • Creating an index in TMG is only the first step. That index must be populated in the word-processor, too. Most of us use Word, so we continued the experiment by exploring some of Word's indexing options.
  • TMG allows the inclusion of indexing codes in memo fields. Before entering those codes, it's a good idea to determine your preferred indexing format. You want the final index to be consistent, whether the code came from a memo field or from a tag's sentence.
Let's start with our final index and work backwards, looking behind the scenes in both TMG and Word.
People section of index
Places section of index
If we analyze the content and format of this index, our choices - and alternatives - will become clear.
  • The People and Places sections are separate. This is not a combined index.
  • There are three columns.
  • There are potentially three indexing levels in both sections. The levels are indented.
    • Level 1 (the type of index - People or Places [Occupation will be discussed later]
    • Level 2 (Surname or Place name)
    • Level 3 (Given name or Place container elements, largest to smallest)
  • In TMG terms, the Places index includes three elements: the Place Detail, the City, and the County, in Level 2. Each Place Detail includes its containing state, county, and city in Level 3. Each City includes its containing state and county in Level 3. Each County includes its containing state in Level 3.
  • Level 1 and Level 2 have been formatted in bold face, and the Level 1 font type is larger than the other levels.
  • The content of this index comes from TMG; most of the format is applied in Word.
Ready for Part Two?