Don't be perplexed by your genealogy program—our solutions to five common software questions will alleviate your confusion.
: If I back up my file to my hard drive and the hard drive fails, I'll lose all my data. It would take several floppy disks to back up my family file. Can I back it up to a CD?
Solution: Yes, if you have a CD recording drive on your computer. To learn how to burn files to CD, see the Cyber Solutions column in the December 2006 Family Tree Magazine.
Problem: How should I record the county-with County, Co., or its name alone? What if I know the county where an event occurred, but not the town? I'm not sure how I should indicate the different jurisdictions.
Solution: Whether you add County or Co. to the county name is a matter of preference. Typically, you might enter a US place name in three levels: town, county and state, each separated by a comma, as in "Chicago, Cook, Illinois." If you don't know the town or county, you can still put in the comma (", Berkshire, Massachusetts" or "Springfield, , Oregon") to show which level you left out. But keep in mind that "Berkshire County, Massachusetts" and "Springfield, Oregon" will look better in narrative reports.
Nailing numbering systems
Problem: When creating a book-format report or a Web site, my genealogy software lets me choose between several numbering systems. What's the difference?
Solution: A book in Ahnentafel format lists a person's ancestors, where the first person is 1, a father's number is twice his child's, and a mother's is the father's plus one (the same scheme used on standard pedigree charts). A Register or Modified Register report outlines a person's descendants. The starting person is number 1 and the spouse, children and descendants are numbered sequentially. Read more about these systems at Numbering Systems in Genealogy.
Attaching your name to your GEDCOMs
Problem: I've shared GEDCOM files with other researchers who've posted my information on Web sites without any indication that I was the compiler. Can I insert my name and contact information somehow so it stays with the file? What if I want to attach compiler information to a GEDCOM someone's given me?
Solution: Name and contact information in a GEDCOM goes with the whole file rather than the individual records in it. But you can use GEDmark, a $9.95 utility from Progeny Software, to add a name and contact information to every individual record in a GEDCOM file you export or import. Even after the family information passes through several hands, users can tell where it originated.
Sharing files with low-tech relatives
Problem: Can I share my family information with a relative who doesn't have a computer?
Solution: Of course. Simply choose an appropriate report or chart you want from your family history program, and print out the data.