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Best method of data entry?

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I've been dabbling in genealogy for several years, but only on a pretty minor scale. I only had a couple hundred people in the whole project. A while back, I was contacted by a distant cousin who has been much more heavily bitten by the bug, and he has shared his info with me. I'm curious as to the "best" or "most efficient" method of adding them to my project file. It can't be imported, because that would be too easy.


I'll be probably tripling the amount of names in my project with this information, so I really need an idea on a good, efficient, methodical way of going through it all, adding it to TMG, and making sure I don't miss anything. Do I choose one person and go up through fathers until I can't go any further? Do I choose one person and add all their immediate family? After I finish adding one person, how do I choose which person to go to next?


I'm open to any suggestions that will make this go easier. Thank you all.



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Hi Chris,


I don't know if it is the best way. I just use the simple approach. If I get a list of information, I just enter it top down from the list. So, I do not forget or oversee something.

Of course, at the beginning there will be holes in the entered information. An example:

In the list you have a person, the birth date, and the name of the parents. I enter the person with birth date, and the parents although I do neot know more about them yet.

Then I proceed to the next person in the list, be it related to the first or not.


Probably, some time later or on the next page, I will find the parents' details. I will enter them at this point in time and such fill some otf the holes from the first step. Note that it is fairly easy in TMG to find persons.


I think this is easier than trying to find the relationships first ("on paper") and do the input by family. You would risk to miss some information.

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First, there is no "best" way, it is only a matter of what works most efficiently for you. I first would enter everything you have been given by your cousin, then later do further research on your own about these ancestors. It is tempting to research as you go along, but I find that often causes me to lose track of what I have or have not entered.


You will probably get many suggestions, but I think the most important thing will be to keep careful track of who you have and have not finished entering from your cousin's data. Thus, in the (based on your comment probably paper) copy of that data I would pencil in the TMG ID number assigned to a person when that person has been entered. Later you can look at your cousin's data, know that the person has been entered, and quickly jump to that person in TMG. Next, in TMG I would have a Flag (probably called Edited) with a default value of 'N' for 'no' which will be set for new people, and other values of 'P' for partial, and 'Y' for yes. Once I added all parents, spouses, and children of a person, I then change their Flag to 'Y'. I would Accent those with an 'N' or a 'P' with separate colors that makes it easy to see who is not finished or only partially finished.


As for the order of entry I have found the following sequence works well for me, especially with the new "Add Multiple People" feature in TMG Version 8. However, the order of the data provided may make it easier to enter people in a specific order.

  • If possible I start with the/a bottom descendant in a tree and enter them.
  • Then I add a Marriage tag if they have any. I use the "Add Person" button on the Marriage tag to add the spouse. (I also rearrange Male to P1 and Female to P2, if necessary.)
  • Since this is the bottom, they have no children, so I change this person's Flag to 'Y' and move on.
  • If I have Ancestors for the spouse, I generally come back to them later and work up their tree separately. If I have no spouse Ancestor data, I can change their Flag now.
  • Now I click on the Father tag and use the "Add Person" button within that tag to add the Father.
  • I click on the Mother tag and use the "Add Person" button to add the Mother.
    This will also prompt to add the Marriage tag for the Father/Mother.
  • I change the focus to the Father and add Marriage tag for any other marriages, using the "Add Person" button in that tag to add the spouse.
  • Then I click on the Add Person menu button (or choose the "Add Person" top-most option on the "Add" Menu).
    I check the "Add multiple people of this type at once" box.
    I click on the "Children" button, and choose the spouse for these children.
  • In the "Add Multiple Children" spreadsheet I add all the children at once for this couple.
    (Use the Left/Right arrow keys to fill in all appropriate fields, and the Down arrow to get to a new line in the spreadsheet to add a new child.)
  • Then I change focus one at a time to each child and add any Marriage tags they have, and add the spouse from the "Add Person" button in that Marriage tag.
  • I now add all the children for those marriage(s) for this child at once using the "Add Multiple Children" feature.
  • If I have added all Marriages/Spouses and all their children, I can change the Flag for this child.
  • I sometimes choose to come back to adding any further descendants for this child, or continue "down" this child's line now, depending upon the number of their descendants. But I usually come back later for entering any ancestors of any spouses. Thus if I do have more data yet to enter for a spouse, I change the Flag to 'P' for the main person to show all their children are done, but that indicates their spouse still needs entry work.
  • Now I change focus one at a time to all this "child's" siblings and do their entry.
  • Once all the children of the Father have been entered I can change his Flag (either to 'Y' or 'P' depending on the need to come back to their spouse), and then add his parents as described above and continue the process.
  • Finally, once all of the "main -line" has been done, the Accents help me come back to the spouses which need entry.
  • Now I add any other Marriages/spouses/children for the spouse, then when their children are done I enter their parents, etc. etc.

If you have been careful to change the Flag for the Accent color for each person, from a person's Details view you can easily see which children are complete. And a quick change to the Tree view can show you which Ancestor is incomplete. The Project Explorer also will show who still needs work.


Be aware that you will be using the Add Person screens a lot. I suggest taking the time to modifying the "Setup" for those screens to only display the fields for data which is avaliable from your import. Note that the "Add Multiple People" spreadsheet is a separate "Setup" to the Add One Person screen and also can be limited to the columns available. Limiting the input fields to only that data to be entered saves me time and keeps me from inadvertently entering something in the wrong field.


Hope this gives you ideas,

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Thanks to both of you for the ideas. Highlighting and flagging makes a lot of sense. I've never been a power user of TMG, but I'll certainly get much more proficient by the time I get all this data in. I don't think I've ever used "add multiple people" before. Or highlighting or flagging for that matter. I'll have to spend some time getting familiar with the deeper functions of the software before starting to actually tackle the family data.


Thanks again for the great suggestions.

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You haven't used "add multiple people" before because it is new to Version 8.


As for the other features, don't overlook Terry Reigel's great web pages for learning about the more advanced features of TMG, especially his tips and tutorial of Accents here.


Good luck,

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