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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