Death vs Cause of Death

This is an annoyance that I hope can be easily fixed. When I add a Fact to a person and type in Death, two choices appear - Cause of Death and Death. If I hit enter, it chooses Cause of Death because that’s first in the list. It’s a mistake I make frequently. It’s nice for there to be a choice for Cause of Death but either make the Cause of Death the 2nd choice so you can just hit enter and go to recording the information on the date and place of death, or remove Cause of Death as something that comes up with typing death; that fact after all does begin with C and Cause is just as easy to type as Death when looking for a fact.

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Cause of Death as a fact type means it is a custom fact so you could change its name to Cause of Dying and it would no longer appear when you type “Dea…”

The Cause of Death is the Description field on the death fact. If you want to get rid of the custom Cause of Death fact type that you have this is where you would add the information in RM.

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As Renee mentions the desc field is what is the common use for COD (Cause of death). Though it could server any purpose. It might depend on what other software you have used where this makes more or less sense. If you didn’t not create the CUSTOM fact for “cause of death” it is possible that came over due to import or tree share.


You confused me. I can find the Description line in the Death fact window and hadn’t realized that Description was where others put the cause of death so I think I understand that part. What confuses me is the second sentence. Cause of Death appeared in one of the RM updates. I don’t remember adding it as a custom fact type. I’m hesitant to just delete Cause of Death as a fact choice since then it’s not available should I choose to use it in the future. It would be very useful in tracking inherited pathologies like certain tumors or early heart attacks.

GEDCOM defines the “CAUS” tag for “Cause of Death”, not the DEATh Event_Descriptor as employed by RootsMagic so, while, “Cause of Death” is not a built-in fact type in RM it originates from a GEDCOM-compliant database, whatever it may be. It is RM that is arguably non-compliant.

That is NOT an acceptable substitute for a Cause of Death. It requires in most instances that you customize the sentence. If it were meant to be used for cause, then the sentence template should have been tweaked accordingly.

It could not have appeared due to an update, so it was either your creation or imported with information that you brought in from else where. Unfortunately, contrary to some assertions, the description field for the Death fact is not a good substitute. In your case, if you are using it to track pathologies, you could rename the fact something like ‘Z Cause of Death’ which would push it to the bottom and if you decided to continue using it later, then it is available without you needed to recreate it.

As the discussion has now shown, Cause of Death was not added in any RM update. Also, to be clear, the default set of fact-types offered by the Program cannot be deleted. In this instance, You imported the fact from an external source and if your only concern is order of appearance in the list for selection… follow the typing of the word ‘death’ with a number of Tab characters which will cycle down the results list to the desired one.

It’s possible that it came in with a Gedcom. Cause of Death is something that just appeared in the list and I assumed it had come from an update.

I tried adding tabs before and after the word Death, but that didn’t work. A tab added before the word didn’t do anything. A tab added after the word jumped to the next box down. If it had worked, that would have solved my problem.

I eventually deleted it as a choice. It existed in four individuals in my database, so I had to change each of those from Cause of Death to Death. It would have let me delete the fact without checking those four individuals, but I would have lost those dates of death if I hadn’t checked first and corrected things.

Thanks for all of your help. The important thing was to get rid of the annoyance.

With an empty entry block, typing the following keys in succession deathTabKeyTabKey should tab down the filtered possibilities list. Does for me with any sequence of letters.

Doh!!! Now I see what you’re saying. After you type death in the search box [and it brings up the two choices: Cause of Death, and Death] hitting the tab key 2x moves it to the choice for Death.

Well, I’ve learned some things from all of this. Cause of Death came in from a Gedcom, not an update. You can’t delete a default fact but you can delete a custom fact. I can always create a custom fact “Cause of Death” if I later decide to use it. Tab is the keyboard secret to get the cursor to choose one choice over the other. I had not been able to figure out a keyboard way to move the cursor to the choice for Death and had been having to move my mouse to make the choice - that was the really aggravating part.


The underlying cause of this behavior is that the search box used when you specify the name of a fact is a wildcard search which finds the string you type in no matter where the string is found in the search, so death finds Death and it also finds Cause of Death.

This behavior is very useful except when it isn’t. You encountered an “it isn’t” situation. It’s hard to get in the habit of doing so, but you can always precede the string you are looking for with a double quote character, so you search for "dea and you really do type the double quote character first. You do not type the double quote character a second time to enclose the string. You just start with the double quote characters. This behavior is not just when you are picking a fact type. It’s in all of RM’s search boxes. If I type in smith to search for a last name, I get both Highsmith and Smith, but if I type in "smith then I only get Smith.

That being said, I probably would have done the same thing you did to replace the Cause of Death fact with just Death and to delete the Cause of Death fact from my database. I would only reiterate what others said about Cause of Death not being a standard RM fact type. Either you created it without remembering you created it or else you imported it without remembering you imported it.

I completely agree with Reene, use the Description field instead. Then there will be much more telling in a narrative form in for example a Narrative Report. I am a fan of using as few Facts as possible. If you make so many special ones, you might eventually forget them.

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Change the Fact Type to ‘Death Cause’, which places it in the correct place alphabetically. You can still use the original narrative scripts for reports etc.

I also agree with Renee. I would rather not have “custom” fact for this information. It is easy enough to create a custom report, a group or a saved search using the death description field for a look at family health history.

Not really! If one sorts their cause of death fact right after the death fact, it is pretty much the same information. There is also the added ease of disabling the cause of death fact so it doesn’t print in narrative reports. Most of the time I don’t want or need it there when I am doing reports for other family.

Alphabetically, nothing comes before something. Hence, “Death” comes before “Death x”.