Free form source citations

I love love Roots Magic. I began with RM2 using free-form source citations, making my own templates. I have a library of templates which I copy, changing data as needed. With RM8, free form changed. It’s clunky to switch screens for each type of citation: footnote, short footnote and bibliography. One screen for free-form citations like in RM7 was much easier. Can one screen free form come back in RM10?

1 Like

First of all, I agree that entering sources into RM8 and RM9 is much more difficult than it was in RM7. And I don’t say “much more difficult than RM7” lightly in the case of sources. For me, it’s not “slightly more difficult than RM7” and it’s not “about the same as RM7”. For me me, the new screens for sources really are much more difficult than RM7.

I say that while realizing that a significant number of RM users have reported that they find sources in RM8 and RM9 to be much easier than they were in RM7. I find such reports to be mystifying. I would love to be in the same room with users who find sources in RM8 and RM9 to be easier. I would like to look over their shoulders as they add sources in RM to see what they are doing that I might be able to do differently or better. And at the same time, I would like for them to look over my shoulder while I add sources in RM so I could explain why they new screens seem so hard to for me to use. Maybe there is an easy way to do sources in RM8 and RM9 that I have not yet discovered.

That all being said, let’s see if we can unpack your situation. When you say you have your own templates that you use with RM’s free form template, I suspect you have something like simple text files which contain your templates completely outside of RM. You are able to copy and paste one of your templates into RM’s footnote field and then fill in some blanks. Is that close to what you are doing? I’m sure someone is going to suggest that you aren’t really using templates because you are using the Free Form template instead of using RM’s templates that are mostly based on Evidence Explained. But templates are templates whether they be found inside of RM our outside of RM.

It appears from your example that you may be what is called a source splitter. Namely, it appears that you put the entire citation text into the footnote field and that you don’t put any data at all into the Page Number field of the free form template. I may be wrong about that because I can’t see the Page Number field in your example. But even if I’m wrong, it’s pretty clear that you put the vast majority of the information into the Footnote field and very little into the Page Number field.

By the way, I’m a source splitter myself. I feel like I can say without fear of much contradiction that RM8 and RM9 make life very difficult for a source splitter. In particular, the Master Source fields that I need are kept closed and the Source Details fields that I don’t need are kept open taking away valuable screen space. I desperately wish that after I opened the Master Source Fields once, they would stay open for all my future use of RM. And I wish I could close the Source Details panels except maybe for the Quality indicators and the Citation Name field and that they would then stay closed.

The reason for the Quality indications being open is obvious because a source splitter may need to use them and the Quality indicators cannot be associated with the Master Source. The reason for the Citation Name being open is a little more subtle. Even if your are a source splitter, you need to be able to fill in some sort of Citation Name because there are places in RM where all you can see is the Citation Name and you can’t see the Source Name.

The next problem (and the one that I think you are writing about) is that in RM7, the Free Form template displays boxes for Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography which you can type directly into without any pop-windows and without any sliding panels. I think the sliding panels are one of the worst features in RM8 and RM9. In all honesty, there are places in RM where the sliding panels are not bad at all. But there are other places in RM8 and RM9 where the sliding panels make RM much clickier and slower to use and harder to use than RM7 ever was.

You highlight a place in RM where the sliding panels make things especially clicky and difficult. For each of the Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography fields in RM8 and RM9, you have to slide in a panel where you can type in your data or paste it in. Then you have to unslide the panel before you can do the next field. And this is all after you have had to open up the Master Source fields for data entry in the first place.

I very much hope that this area of RM9 or its successors could be much improved in the feature. We shall have to see if ever it will happen. I’m pleased that you raised the issue in the very simple terms of the Free Form template.


Thanks for responding! I began using my own templates when RM2 didn’t do citations very well. They have improved greatly since then, but I still have trouble arriving at the consistency I want when filling out the citation fields in RM templates. And, after 20 years, my system is quick and efficient (for me).
The templates I created are in RM. I add ‘zztemp’ to the beginning of each source title so they stay at the very bottom of my source list. I also include the EE page no. that I used to write the template. I click “copy selected source” when I want to use a particular template.
rm temp

1 Like

So my guess was partly right and partly wrong?

Your templates are stored inside of RM rather than outside of RM. But it appears as if you are using dummy sources as templates. What RM calls templates didn’t yet exist when you started your procedure because you started in RM2. As I said before, it seems to me that templates are templates, no matter the details of how they are implemented or whether or not you are using what RM actually calls templates.

My new guess is that you must be copying one of your zztemp sources to start a new source and then you change the newly created source as necessary. You choose the zztemp source to copy that’s closest to the new source you intend to make. That effectively makes the zzsource into a template for making the new source. Does that sound about right? You couldn’t be using your zztemp sources without making a copy because otherwise you would soon be destroying all of your zztemp sources.

I do use RM’s template facility rather than using the free form template. Even though I use RM’s actual template facility, I use templates of my own design rather than using RM’s built-in templates. Using templates in this fashion helps me to standardize my footnote sentences.

Even though I do use RM’s actual template facility , I seldom start a new source from scratch when I create a new source. Instead, I will copy an existing source that’s most similar to the one I’m about to create. For example, if I am creating a new census source, I will copy an existing census source that’s of a similar locale and census year as the one I’m about to create to be the source that’s copied. That’s very similar to the way you seem to be using your zzsources to create new sources.

The situation remains that the sliding panels in RM8 and RM9 make it much more difficult than in RM7 to enter the text for the footnote, the short footnote, and the bibliography directly when you are using the free form template. It’s not so bad when using actual templates. Here is my current workflow to add a new source in RM9.

  1. Highlight the fact that needs a new source.
  2. Click on the Source column for the fact in the left hand panel of the Edit Person screen.
  3. Click + to add a new citation
  4. Choose the Select Existing Source option
  5. Use the search box to filter to an existing source that’s similar to the one I want to add.
  6. Highlight the source that’s similar to the one I want to copy and click on the Copy icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  7. Highlight the newly made source that’s a copy. It’s essential to do this step or otherwise I’m destroying an existing source. It would be nice if clicking the Copy icon would include highlighting the new created source.
  8. Click the chevrons to open the Master Source and Master Source Text, Media, Etc. panels. There really, really needs to be a way to leave these panels open for users who regularly need them to be open. This is a profoundly irritating step.
  9. There is a huge difference at this point between my workflow and yours. Because I’m using actual RM source templates (albeit templates of my own design), I do not have to use any further sliding panels as you need to do to enter the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography data. Rather, all the template fields are visible at the same time and can be edited without any further use of sliding panels. I only enter each piece of information one time, and the template constructs the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography for me. I can see the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography being built as I fill in the data.

I think that’s pretty clear. If not, then I could make a short video.

By the way, I originally tried doing my same procedure directly from the main Sources tab instead of waiting until I was in the Edit Person screen. It worked fine when RM8 was first released. But a subsequent update removed the ability to see the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography being constructed as I filled the data into the template fields. So I have found that the procedure works much better from within Edit Person than it does from the main Sources tab.


Thanks for your help Jerry. I am going to try your method. In the meantime, we can always hope for RM10. All in all RM is a great product!