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Sentences for NEHGS Journal Reports


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#1 chris sackett

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:28 AM

Henry Hoff, in his "Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century", states, "... genealogy computer programs claiming to generate a [NEHGS] Register-style report are usually quite deficient. Such a report will need substantial editing ... in Word."

I guess TMG comes closer than any other program to achieving a Register-style report but wouldn't it be great if TMG could be tweaked to come so close that Mr Hoff was obliged to eat his words!

Some details of NEHGS style are already easily achievable in TMG by adding a few custom sentences, or by changing the sort sequence of tags; some style details are partially possible now; some cannot be done yet but are hinted to be under consideration; and others would appear to be relatively straightforward program changes.

1. Place before Date (easy now)
As a general rule NEHGS puts Place before Date in sentences. This is easily dealt with by swapping the order of the [D] and [L] variables in the default sentences, for example, "[P] was born <[L]> <[D]>" instead of the default "[P] was born <[D]> <[L]>"; and "[P] died <[L]> <[D]>" instead of "[P] died <[D]> <[L]>".

2. Marriage sentence re-ordered (easy now)
As well as Place before Date, the marriage sentence is also ordered differently with the spouse and spouse's parents' names coming after the place and date instead of before. The default, "[P] married [PO] <[PARO]> <[D]> <[L]>", then needs to be changed to, for example, "[P] married <[L]> <[D],> [PO] <[PARO]>".

3. Order of sentences (easy now)
NEHGS style is usually to order the first paragraph sentences as: birth - death - marriage (instead of the chronological, birth - marriage - death). This means that the death/burial tags need to be sorted between the birth/baptism and marriage tags. TMG can easily cope with this by means of sort dates. The sorting of death tags two years after birth (in case there is a baptism tag to be fitted in) and burial tags three years after birth is found to work quickly and conveniently in most cases.

4. Name formats (partially possible now; an easy program change)
NEHGS style is to show the first mention of the subject's name in bold small capitals. TMG provides an option "Parent names: All small caps", which does half the job, but does not give bold text. It would seem to be an easy matter to modify the program for this. First mention of the spouse's name is also in bold small caps. This can be achieved in TMG with, "[P] married <[L]> <[D],> [SCAP:][BOLD:][PO][:BOLD][:SCAP] <[PARO]>".
However, a similar construction for the first mention of the subject's name, for example, "[SCAP:][BOLD:][P][:BOLD][:SCAP] was born <[L]> <[D]>", does not work in TMG. It would appear that this is because of the complexity of having to produce the "lineage line" which appears in parentheses after the subject's name. This seems to dictate that nothing can come before the name, not even formatting codes. The construction does work in Second Site where the lineage line is not used. As a temporary compromise, one option is to manage without the bolded names, and settle for a marriage sentence of, "[P] married <[L]> <[D],> [SCAP:][PO][:SCAP]<[PARO]>". This is a workable compromise for TMG output, but is not satisfactory for Second Site output where there is not a comparable option to put the subject's name in small caps.)

5. Merged sentences (not yet possible, but some enthusiasm for this on the TMG List)
NEHGS very often concatenates sentences, for example, "John Smith was born at Springfield, Massachusetts, on 1 May 1750, and he died at Westfield, Massachusetts, on 31 May 1796." There has been some technical discussion on the List regarding the proposal to introduce punctuation options which would make this sort of sentence construction possible.

6. Married names format (a relatively straightforward future option?)
NEHGS uses the style "John and Jane (Brown) Smith" for married couples, rather than "John Smith and Jane Brown". It would be useful if this could be offered as an optional variation of the [PAR] and [PARO] variables used, for example, in marriage sentences. The style is used also in the kids intro phrase, for example, "Children of John and Jane (Brown) Smith:". The program would need to be modified to make it possible to choose which Name-Marr or Name-Var to apply to the mother. The Mother-Bio tag would be modified to allow a choice of name variations, as can be done with other tags, rather than providing only the primary name.

7. Abbreviated text in Children's section (an easy program change?)
The TMG NEHGS report uses abbreviated text "b., d., m." instead of full sentences in the Children's section if there is a carried forward biographical sketch for the child. If there is not a carried forward sketch, TMG uses full sentences in the Children's section. It would be preferable to use abbreviated text for all the basic genealogical data (b., bp., d., bur., m.) regardless of whether there is a carried forward sketch. Any subsequent sentences would be rendered in full, as now.

Chris Sackett

#2 Terry Reigel

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 01:15 PM

3. Order of sentences (easy now)
NEHGS style is usually to order the first paragraph sentences as: birth - death - marriage (instead of the chronological, birth - marriage - death). This means that the death/burial tags need to be sorted between the birth/baptism and marriage tags. TMG can easily cope with this by means of sort dates. The sorting of death tags two years after birth (in case there is a baptism tag to be fitted in) and burial tags three years after birth is found to work quickly and conveniently in most cases.

Chris, what type of report did you test this in? If you use a Journal, and use the option to put BMDB in the first section (which I thought was part of all the journal styles) sort dates would not reverse the order of the BMDB tags last time I tested. I found the tags always appear in the order birth, marriage/divorice, death, burial, and the sort dates only apply within each group.
Terry

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#3 chris sackett

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 11:29 PM

Terry,

I do not use the "BMDB in separate paragraph" option for that very reason (that the sort order of the tags cannot be changed). I recall it being suggested sometime way back that there could perhaps be an option to have a "BDBM in separate paragraph". However, I would not find this much of an advantage as I often include other explanatory sentences in the first paragraph - easier sometimes than using memo fields in the bmdb tag sentences.

Chris




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