Master source and citations rm9

RM9 states Master Source “Changes will affect all citations using this source.” That is a good thing in my opinion, but it does not appear to be true.
When I make a change to a master source and then look at the citations under that master the changes do not automatically update. I have to go to “customize” and manually click on “reset to defaults” individually for each citation. Unfortunately, I often have large groups of citations under each master source.

Is there a way to update all the citations under a master easily?

It means that if you modify that “already-named” Master Source… going forward, all citations will now have that arrangement, but those citations that were “previously-created” will be affected too!

Think about it this way. Yesterday you created a Master Source with templated fields, then created citations that used that template to accept input text from you to fill out that Master Source’s citation arrangement. Today, you edit that Master Source template and add/delete some fields of that arrangement. What is RootsMagic to do with your “previously-entered” data and your “not previously-entered” data that no longer fit your new citation design? In simplest terms, affected means all are affected.

If I make a change to a master source, all citations using that master should ideally update to reflect the change. Any change I make would pertain to all my citations.
For example I may have a master citation for a specific collection of FamilySearch baptisms. Then I may have 50 citations using that master. If I correct a spelling error in the master, I would want all the citations to reflect that change.
RM9 states Master Source “Changes will affect all citations using this source" but that does not appear to be true. Surely, it should be true. Am I missing something?

I think we need to clarify whether you are talking about a Master Source or whether you are talking about a Source Template. The two are related, but they are very different things. So which is it?

The reason I ask is that if you make changes to a Master Source, the changes absolutely do automatically update automatically to all citations using the Master Source. But if you make changes to a Source Template, there is some iffiness about what happens to citations that were created before the Source Template was changed.

Thanks for the quick replies. I am referring to Master Sources. If I make a change to a Master Source it is not automatically updating citations using that source. In order to get the citations updated I have to click the “customize” button and then click “reset to defaults”.

I found this in the RM9 Learning Centre:
“Master Source Note: Changes to the Master Source entry will affect all source citations using that Master Source. Only apply changes that are global to that Master Source.”

That is a logical and important feature because one tends to have multiple citations for each source.

But that feature is not working in my RM9. Anyone else have this problem? Anyone know how to fix it?

This problem has been reported before. There is a very long discussion at Possible Bug in Editing Master Sources Some RM users were able to reproduce my symptoms and some were not.

I did in fact submit my database to RM and they could indeed see the problem in my database. However, they reported that there was some sort of unknown corruption in my master source rather than there being a bug in RM. They also reported that doing a drag and drop of my database fixed the problem, as did making a copy of the master source. Well, the original master source was still in use and still had the problem. It was only citations based on the copy of the original master source where the problem was fixed.

I still think there is a bug. Perhaps it would be useful to submit your database to RM for analysis.

In the meantime, here are some questions.

  • Which source template are you using for the Master Source with the problem?
  • Had you ever used the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature for that particular master source prior to encountering the problem?
  • Which version of RM are you using and are you using it on Windows or a Mac?

As it seems to turn out, using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature is a workaround for the problem. But using the using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature also seems to cause the problem. By which I mean that after the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature has been used for a master source, that master source will not update ever again without using the using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature. The thing that was puzzling in my case is that I never use the using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature, or at least not that I know of.

I therefore wonder if maybe I caused the problem in the first place by using the using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature without remembering that I had done so. That seems very unlikely, but you never know. For sure, using the Customize => Reset To Defaults feature ought not to cause this problem. Surely that is a bug that could be fixed.

I did some further testing just now to confirm the analysis from the previous note.

  • I created a new and empty database, RM, Windows 10, although I don’t the expect the version of RM nor WIndows vs.Mac nor the exact version of Windows or Mac has anything to do with it.
  • I added a single person named John Doe, male, born in 1855 in Tennessee, census in 1860 in Anderson County, Tennessee, no other facts.
  • I added a citation to the Census fact with the following information. Notice that the name of the state is deliberately misspelled with an extra e in the Jurisdiction field. All other fields than the ones below were left blank.
    ---- Master Source
    Source Type: Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images)
    Source Name: 1860 Census, Anderson County, Tennessee
    Year and Type: 1860 U.S.Census
    Jurisdiction: Anderson County, Tennesseee
    ----- Citation
    Citation Name: page 123
    Page ID: page 123
  • I memorized the citation from the Census fact and pasted it to the Birth fact with the reuse option.

That completes the setup. It’s a minimal database with one person two facts, one source, and one citation that is reused. The source template is one of RM’s standard source templates. the next step is to correct the spelling of the Jurisdiction to change Tennesseee to Tennessee.

If I just change Tennesseee to Tennessee in the Master Source, the change just works. So I change it back to Tennesseee to be able to run another test, and that change back also just works.

This time I correct the misspelling by editing the citation from the Edit Person screen, by clicking on the Customize button for the citation, and by changing Tenesseee to Tennessee in the Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography. The change takes effect just fine.

I Edit the citation again from the Edit Person screen, click on the Customize button for the citation again, and click on Reset to Defaults. The spelling changes back to the incorrect spelling of Tennesseee, which is the expected behavior. But now I am doomed.

I go back into the Master Source, and change the spelling there from Tennesseee to Tennessee. The change takes place in the Jurisdiction field in the Master Source, but it does not take place in the Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography. The only way at this point to get the change to take place is to run the Customize => Reset to Defaults process again.

There appears to be a hidden “this citation has been customized” flag somewhere in the Master Source or in the Citation. If so, I have not yet found this hidden flag in the RM database. In any case, the use of the Customize => Reset to Defaults process does reset the Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography to the template settings rather than to the customized settings. But it apparently does not turn off this mysterious and hidden flag that says “this citation has been customized”. I will spend some more time looking for this mysterious and hidden flag. The flag may be implicit rather than explicit, being derived from the content of some other field or fields.

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Aha! It appears that there is no explicit “this citation has been customized” flag. Rather, there are three fields to contain the customized Footnote, the customized Short Footnote, and the customized Bibliography. The fields are of zero length if there has never been any customization and they are of greater than zero length if there has ever been any customization. The mysterious “this citation has been customized” flag is apparently implicit. Namely, it’s the length of those fields being zero length or greater than zero length. The apparent bug is that the Customize => Reset to Defaults process does not clear those fields to set their length back to zero.

I could imagine the possibility that this behavior is intentional and by design. If so, I think the design needs to be changed and that the Customize => Reset to Defaults needs to clear those fields. What it is doing instead is to update those fields to reflect the current contents of the template fields. That creates the trap that you can never ever again change any data in that Master Source (or for that matter in that citation itself) and to have the change be reflected in the Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography unless you also run the Customize => Reset to Defaults process again.


RM9 (Roots Magic 9) citations are derived from a combination of global data that applies to all citations based on the same citation template and unique data that may have application to either just a single use or several uses of the same data.

RM9 Citations draw data from four data sets:
Master Source; Master Source text, media, etc.; Citation Details; and Citation Detail text, media, etc. which all contribute to the final citation.

The first two sets of data contribute to the MASTER SOURCE in the Roots Magic template. These are global in their effect and that data will always be the same across ALL uses of the citation template. Therefore a change to any one of those data items will have effect across ALL uses of that citation template when-ever that change is made.

This is what is actually being warned about when RM says, “Changes will affect all citations using this source”.

The last two sets of data cover detail items which may be the same, similar or totally different from one use to the next of the citation template (RM seems to refer to these citation detail groups as “citations” and this can be confusing).

This allows either multiple or single uses of the detail data according to whether a citation is either “memorised and re-used” or “memorised and copied” . The former creates a duplicate use of the data in an existing instance of the citation while the latter creates a totally new unique instance of the citation data both global and detail.

In the re-used case a data change affects all citations in the same re-used group but nothing beyond that group. In the copied instance a data change affects nothing else.

Changes to data in these two sets can not therefore be handled globally.

Great sleuthing, Jerry. The Customize Event Sentence function operates correctly, consistent with the way you say the function should work for citations. A programming error needs to be corrected.

Having slept on this problem, I have some additional thoughts.

First of all, RM suggested to me originally that a drag and drop of my entire database would fix the problem. And in fact it does. However, that is actually a very bad thing. What it means (and I have verified it this morning) is that individually customized citations are lost on a drag and drop and on a GEDCOM export/import. In other words, those customized Footnote, ShortFootnote, and Bibliography fields I talked about in RM’s CitationTable are lost on a drag and drop and on a GEDCOM export/import. So customized citations need to be added to the very long list of items that are lost on a drag and drop or on a GEDCOM export/import.

Second of all, I initially tested copying and pasting a customized citation using Paste With Reuse. Because of the way Paste With Reuse works, there would be no opportunity for the Paste With Reuse to fix the problem with customized citations not really being reset by the Customize => Reset to Defaults. However, with Paste With Copy, there would be an opportunity to fix the problem by not copying the customization fields. So I tested Paste With Copy this morning. Alas, using Paste With Copy leaves the citations customized. I suppose that’s the expected and intended behavior and I don’t think it’s a bug. The bug remains the failure by the Customize => Reset to Defaults process to clear the customization fields.

Added as #22 at

And a related addition to the list:
#23. Custom sentence for any instance of the Name fact, Alternate or Primary (RM4-9) 2024-05-08

Agreed. I’ve been following this since you first reported the issue with your DB. This is a bug that should be prioritized since there’s no way for users to identify which footnotes type fields have been customized and which ones have been reset. Thanks for making the extra effort to chase down the root cause.

Just wanted to add that when troubleshooting strange behavior that its important to do the setup, reproduce the behavior, then close RM and then reopen the DB and attempt to reproduce the behavior. This is to clarify whether the behavior is due to some data stored in RAM or in it’s in the database (or possibly the xml file in AppData).