Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Followup Question About Data Entry Standards

Here is a followup question from Davis R. to the Genealogy Standards - Documenting your Data blog post:
"I am a little confused about why you document things differently in the computer program than you do when you type up a report."

Genealogy database programs are just that, database programs. They are a place to store snippets of information in a specific format. All of the genealogy database programs have the capability to export this data in a standardized file format called a GEDCOM. This is how genealogists can share information even if they are using different computer programs. For example, I use Legacy Family Tree to store all of my genealogy info. I can export my data to a GEDCOM file. My cousin has RootsMagic and he is able to open my GEDCOM file with no problem. Keeping your names, dates and locations in standard formats helps the GEDCOM interpret the data correctly when saving it and it helps the receiving program to interpret it correctly when it opens it up.

When you are typing up reports using a word processor, it is important to put the information in a format that is readable. In a database program you will put a location in as Purvis, Lamar, Mississippi, United States but if I were to type this in a written report it would awkward and cumbersome. It would be easier read if I just put Purvis, Lamar County [assuming that the state was clearly understood].

Legacy Family Tree will automatically change the dates and locations to whatever format you specify when you are printing reports so that these reports are more readable to a general audience. I am sure the other major genealogy programs will allow you to do this too. I will say that I don't like using a database program to generate reports. I much rather hand type them so that I have complete control over the formatting.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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