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  • Writer's pictureAndy Lee

RootsMagic 8 Fact Types: Improve How You Track Your Ancestor

You may have discovered a delightful little nugget about your relatives that you want to add to your family tree. But how can you record that fact so it stands out in an ancestor’s profile in RootsMagic? And what happens if RootsMagic doesn't have a place for you to put the fact?

With RootsMagic, a genealogy tree-building program with free and paid versions, you can keep track of a host of details about your ancestors in an organized way. Today, I will show you how to add pre-loaded or custom facts to your family tree so that you can remember details ranging from alternate names to health facts and more.

Accessing Your Ancestor’s Fact List

Before managing facts, you might need to know where to find them.

After you open a file in RootsMagic, be sure you are in the People tab.

RootsMagic People Window

Navigate to your relative on the family tree view and highlight their name.

You will see their brief profile in the upper left corner of the screen.

RootsMagic People Index

Or, use the “Index” box to find a name.

Key a surname in the Index Search box.

RootsMagic will filter results to that surname.

Click on the name of the person you want to review.

You will notice that RootsMagic will set that person as the root of a pedigree in the right panel. You will see a brief profile in the left panel in the upper corner.

RootsMagic Relative Quick Profile

Access the Edit Person Page in RootsMagic

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. How do we add details to this summary?

Click on the "Edit" link beside the pencil icon.

RootsMagic will open a separate window called “Edit Person."

Notice that your relative’s name appears in the upper left dark teal bar.

The Edit Person window allows you to manage all the details about a specific ancestor.

RootsMagic Edit Person Window

RootsMagic helps you track:

  • Parent and Spouse Relationships via links to their profiles.

  • Create groups - I’ve used Living, Ohio Settlers, and Active Research.

  • WebTags - where you can track URLs to specific content on the internet.

Below that section is the focus of today’s efforts - the facts.

RootsMagic Ancestor Timeline
Timeline generated as you add facts to profiles.

If you have researched a relative previously, you will see all the facts you may have gathered. Notice in my profile for Richard Townley I have the following details:

  • Birth

  • Residence- This fact frequently appears in Richard’s profile. The numerous residence entries come from city directories that documented him between the census years. Notice I can highlight his job changes from bricklayer to police officer back to a bricklayer.

  • Death

  • Burial

  • LDS Facts - For those who turn on LDS Features in their RootsMagic settings can also track LDS Temple facts.

Whether you’re starting a new profile or extending an existing one like Richard’s, RootsMagic makes it easy to gain quick insights into your ancestor’s timeline and biographical details.

Adding a Fact to RootsMagic Profile

Before we discuss HOW to add a fact type, let’s find a fact.

In this case, I have found a probate record for Richard Townley.

Richard Townley Probate entry
Richard Townley Probate entry

What fact type would I want to add to my database?

If you said 'probate,' you would be correct.

To add a pre-loaded Fact Type to a person's fact list, click on the large plus (+) sign.

Scroll to the fact type or use the search box and partially type the fact you want to add. In this case, I typed ‘pro’ and could quickly find probate.

Make your selection and click “Okay.”

Now notice that RootsMagic has added a blank line in the left window.

In the top right pane, you will see RootsMagic is ready to receive the information you want to add.

Watch this video to view a demonstration of the steps to add Facts to RootsMagic.

One section of the fact type window that you'll want to review includes evaluating the fact details you've gathered:

  • Proof: Proven, disproven, disputed. This can be handy when you have conflicting names, relationships, or other information. If you have gathered enough details about the fact to make a decision, then choose the appropriate answer.

  • Primary - this is only a check box. You will check the box if this is a primary record, such as an original birth certificate. If you do not have a primary document for the fact, then leave the box unchecked.

  • Private - use this option if you want to hide this fact when you share details with others or in your online tree.

Before you save this entry, you’ll see the Sentence window where RootsMagic has starter sentences generated from pre-defined facts. These sentences can feed narrative reports.

RootsMagic Fact Sentence Starters

Now, click the checkmark in the upper right corner for the fact to be saved.

RootsMagic will update the left fact list panel with that new fact, and you can add more details.

Inserting Custom Fact to RootsMagic

What happens if you have a task not available n the task list?

If you saw the previous video about task types, you may have some idea of something additional you want to track.

Suppose you found a newspaper article. Unfortunately, RootsMagic does not have a pre-designed fact type for newspaper clippings. Therefore, we will need to create a new one.

RootsMagic Custom Fact Type Window

  • Click on “Design New Fact type.”

  • Choose “Individual Fact Type”

  • Add the following details:

    • Name- Enter the title of the fact you want to add. For instance, "Newspaper Clipping" for traveling ancestors.

    • Abbreviation – Enter an abbreviation for RootsMagic to use where space on a form or window is tight. For instance, "News"

  • Choose to include fields for date, location, and details/

    • These details may or may not pertain to a fact.

    • For instance, a name change may have a date when the change occurred and a description of the change, but not necessarily a place.

    • For "News," you might opt to allow all three choices and then use only the ones relevant for each time you use this fact.

  • Select whether RootsMagic should include this fact when you output your database.

    • Exporting GEDCOM files

    • Creating web sites

    • Family group sheets

    • Narrative reports

    • Individual summaries

    • Printed lists

RootsMagic can assign the fact to roles and create sentence templates. The roles relate to how a fact relates to your ancestor. The sentence templates take your fact and turn them into a sentence in a narrative report. Since these two topics require a video of their one, I’ll refer you to two articles on the helpful RootsMagic Wiki.

However, notice that after you add a new custom fact type, many of the options discussed earlier are now available for you to add details to your database.

➡️ Have you gotten these FREE Research Guides or Tools to improve your genealogy?

Free genealogy research guides

Custom Facts in RootsMagic are Database Specific

If you have migrated your family tree from other platforms, you may see some facts that differ from other users. For instance, in one database, I found:

  • 1861 Census of Canada

  • Anna Lange's arrival in Maryland

  • Daughter by second wife wedding

The facts appeared after I downloaded my family tree from Ancestry. I’m not entirely sure how they ended up in that family tree that way, but I can clean them up.

The main reason for mentioning this is to emphasize that every Fact List in RootsMagic is database specific.

In short, custom facts are not transferable within RootsMagic from one database to another. RootsMagic says, "it is applicable only to the database in which you created it. If you open another database and want to use the new fact type, you must add the fact type to the other database separately.”

What that means is this:

  • When you build your family tree in RootsMagic and add custom facts, you will need to create those custom facts again in any additional databases you make.

  • This also means, sometimes, you will see items in your Fact Type list that differ from the pre-defined ones created by RootsMagic. This is because users created them in different genealogy programs.

For the first key point, it’s just something to be aware of.

For the second, you may have to do some clean-up work if you see the facts that I mentioned above if you’re not interested in having them.

Leverage Facts in Your Database

Take time to add as many facts about your ancestors as you can. Do not limit yourself to birth, marriage, and death only.

You know you're no longer a beginning genealogist when you start adding facts to your ancestor's profile and linking sources to those facts.

More RootsMagic Tips

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