How to Customize Facts in Family Tree Maker

In my last post, I showed you how to add facts in Family Tree Maker. In this post, I’m going to show you how to customize facts in Family Tree Maker by changing some of the options in the default facts. This can be helpful if you don’t like the wording in your reports, or if you want to add or remove information from the sentences generated. As I mentioned in my previous post, Fact Sentences are only used in Ahnentafel reports, descendant reports, or Smart Stories; in all other places the fact will be presented in data format.

How to customize facts in Family Tree Maker

As always, backup your data before making changes. To find the list of default facts and manage them, open Family Tree Maker and the database file you want to work on. If you do not feel confident about making changes, try creating a new database file for testing purposes as I have done. You can work with it first so you can see the effects of your changes before trying to apply changes to your main database.

Let’s get started…

Choose Edit > Manage Facts… from the menu. You will see a window similar to the one below.

We are going to use the Address fact to examine the properties. Click on Address, then click the Properties button. Note that the fact labels and abbreviation are grayed out because those cannot be changed for default facts.

Individual Fact Panel with new custom factEach fact that comes preinstalled has three preset element options: Date, Place, and Description. You are accustomed to seeing these elements in the panel for each individual for the facts presented in the editing panel (screenshot at left).

The Fact Element options for all facts are Date/Place, Date/Place/Description, or Description only. As you can see from the screenshot below, this fact uses all three elements: Date/Place/Description. We can change this if we have reason to, but generally the default settings for the Fact Elements are appropriate.

In the field marked “Fact Sentence,” we can see how a sentence using the Address fact will read in the few reports that use Fact Sentences:

{his/her/their} address was {description} {inPlace} {onDate}.

{his/her/their} will be determined by the sex field, {inPlace} will be “in” plus the place field, {onDate} will be “on” plus the date field, and {description} means the description we enter will be displayed mid-sentence.

The example in the gray box below the fact sentence shows this with sample data. If we don’t like how that reads, we can rearrange the fields or change the sentence, but be sure that all of the bracketed elements remain bracketed or it will break the data display. The easiest way to make changes to the fields without creating errors is to create your sentence using the dropdown choices for each element as shown above. Reset Fact Sentence will take the sentence back to the default format.

Maybe we have decided that we prefer to include the description at the end of the fact sentence in parentheses for this particular fact, since it doesn’t necessarily flow in the middle of the sentence. To do that, we could change the fact sentence to:

{his/her/their} address was {inPlace} {onDate} {(description)}.

Note the parentheses inside of the brackets – that option instead of {description} will put the data inside of parentheses in the report.

These changes can be made to any fact, custom or default, in Family Tree Maker. This kind of tweaking to the settings will help you to personalize your reports and may allow you to remove or change awkward wording.

Do you have questions about the process? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. Mary Ann,
    Not sured if you’re still accepting questions on this topic.
    However…Followed all your directions for modifying the fact sentence…but “OK” buton alwyas xtays gray and never updates.


    • Hi Tom – Can you give me more specific information about what you are changing? Screenshots of the original fact window and after your changes would help me to try to replicate the problem.

  2. Pat Fairfield says

    I have added a new fact field for my GEDmatch connections however I was wondering if there is a way to make a report on all of the connections. If I go to Edit – Manage facts – “Gedmatch” – Data options – backup I then get the list of 114 names of the people in my tree with their GEDmatch kit #. But how could I get a report which would include notes etc of the data entered for this new fact field?

    • Hi Pat,
      You’ll need to use the “Filter individuals function” and then choose that specific fact. First, open “custom report” under Person Reports. Under individuals to include, choose “selected individuals.” Click the “Filter in” button, and choose the All Facts tab at the top beside “filter individuals.” Choose your GEDmatch fact and from the drop down menu below it, choose a condition of “Is not blank.” Click OK, then Apply. That will give you a report with the list of all the individuals for whom you have entered data in the GEDmatch fact.

      The resulting report won’t contain the fact data yet. For that you need to click the tan button on the far left of the Custom Report Options. When you hover over it, it says “Items to Include.” When you click it, you will get a dialogue box that includes some basic facts like Name, Birth, Marriage, Death. Click the plus sign at the bottom left. In the new dialogue box, check the GEDmatch fact and any other facts you want to include in this report. Click OK, then make sure the settings are how you’d like them on the main Items to Include dialogue box and click OK again. When the report generates, it will include only individuals who have data in the GEDmatch fact field, and it will list the data in that field for each individual.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Linda Shepard says

    Regarding custom facts – will they upload to For example, I created a custom fact “Diary” and entered some info from my ancestor’s diary and date. Now I am ready to upload and link to ancestry, but am wondering how custom facts will be handled.

    • Hi Linda – I don’t sync or upload to Ancestry so I have not tested this, but I do not believe that custom facts will upload (similar to color coding in FTM).

  4. delford woodyard says

    I am trying to change fact statement,
    Here is my fact statement {person} worked {description} {inPlace} {onDate} . this is what I get worked as an Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Mechanical engineering in Oak Ridge, Anderson, Tennessee, USA, in June . I think description has preload attach to it

    • Hi Delford – Did you select Date / Place / Description with the radio buttons (located above the fact statement)? Just putting the description in the fact statement won’t apply it if only Date / Place is selected with the radio buttons.

  5. Hi Mary Ann – I am relatively new to using FTM and trying to understand the preferred facts versus not preferred when generating an individual report. I have 2 distinct separate emigrations for a great uncle, first from Scotland, and then a year later from Australia. How can I have both show consecutively in an individual report? Should I create a new fact, for example “Emigration #2”?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Susan – The settings for the individual report allow you to select whether you want to include all facts or only preferred facts. To access those settings, go to the Individual Report and click the icon on the top left of the Individual Report Options sidebar:
      screenshot of individual report options
      In the options, you’ll see the checkbox for the preferred facts option on the top:
      screenshot of preferred facts options
      There are other options in that dialogue box that are useful, including which facts you want included in the report.
      I hope this helps.

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