It isn’t enough to understand the different types of family tree templates commonly used in genealogic research. It is even more important to know how to enter the information you collected in the charts.
We are fortunate that a standardized method of using family tree templates was developed. It makes it easy for anyone who is reading it to understand and provides you with a means to verify you have all the data.
There are three key elements to documenting your findings:
1. How to record names
2. How to record places
3. How to record dates
How to record Names
Writing the full name – Standard genealogical method is to write the names in the conventional way. First Name, Middle, last name (surname). Write the full names of each person. Here is what the entry should look like on your family tree chart: Charles Napier BELL
Writing the last name (surname) – Last names are always written in capital letters (upper case). This makes it easier to find the names in the charts. It is also a way to differentiate the last name from the other given names. Here is what the entry should look like on your family tree template: Charles Napier BELL
Writing Women’s Names – When recording information for women, the convention is to use their maiden names instead of their married names. If you are not able to find her maiden name, write her first name and follow it with empty parentheses ( ). Sometimes the woman’s married name is added to the chart. Here is what the entry should look like on your family tree:Margaret Ann ( ) or Margaret Ann ( ) BENNETT
And if she was married more than once? – In this case you would enter her first and middle names, her maiden name in parentheses ( ) then list her last names in order of marriage. If you have her middle name, enter it also. Let’s say your ancestor Isabel Jane Brown was first married to James Smith and later married your ancestor William Blair. Here’s how you would enter her information: Isabel Jane (Brown) SMITH; or Isabel Jane (Brown) BLAIR
Include nicknames – If you found the nickname of your ancestor during your research, don’t forget to add it to the chart. Use quotes ” ” not parentheses to note nicknames. Remember parentheses are used to show maiden names. You don’t want to cause any confusion in the way your chart is read. Here is what the entry should look like on your family tree template: Alice Margaret “Madge” JOHNSON
What if there are multiple names – Your ancestor may show up in your research with different last names for a number of reasons, by means of adoption or a simple name change. Write the name and then note the second name in parentheses and use the following abbreviation, a.k.a.- also known as; Here is what the entry should look like on your family tree chart: Alexander Thomas BROWN (a.k.a. Alexander Thomas WILSON)
What to do when the spelling is different? – In your research, you might find different spellings of your ancestral last name. This could be the result of:
– phonetically spelling,
– immigration to a different country
– a spelling error on the birth certificate
When writing the names in your chart, it is important to note the earliest usage of the name first, followed by the later usage. Here is what the entry should look like in your family tree template: David JOHNSON/JONSON/JONSSON
You can always use the “note” field on your chart to enter any information you want to clarify. Remember you want your family tree chart to be preserved and to be read by other people.
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