Parenthesis switching to Quotes in citations

I have a custom Source Template that handles Oral Interviews. One of the fields is a text field that contains the name of the the person being interviewed. I have entered the person’s name as “Jane (Smith) Doe” (without the quote marks) so that people know she was born Jane Smith. When the citation prints out, RM9 is changing the parenthesis to Quote marks, i.e. Jane “Smith” Doe, making it look like she has a nickname of Smith (per common U.S. naming conventions). Why is this happening, and how do I stop it?

I don’t know for sure about within templating, but RM definitely associates double quotes and parens as delimiters for nicknames (as shown in Settings > General Settings > Nickname style). Seems it may be triggering on them for that reason.

Until a good fix or workaround, try left and right brace symbols, maybe? Or (back/forward) slashes. I’ve seen back tick symbols used (but didn’t like it). Ye Olde typing way obviously was Jane Doe nee Smith.

Thanks @kbens0n! I see what you are referring to, but it doesn’t seem clear to me what that setting does under the hood, but I guess it is parsing parentheses into quotes for me. And, while it might make sense for name fields, I’m not sure why it’s happening to a citation text field. Sometimes I wish “smart systems” didn’t try to be so smart. There are always unintended consequences. Or, maybe RM should also offer a setting of “as written by the user” which let’s us decide.

1 Like

I cannot replicate your results.

When I use parentheses in a text field in a source template, everything is treated as text and is unmodified.

When I use parentheses in a name field in a source template, strange things happen which are hard to describe. But my parentheses do not turn into quotes. So let’s only confuse one issue at a time. Are you 100% sure that your “name stored in a text field” is really a “name stored in a text field” rather than a “name stored in a name field”?

Could you share the Footnote sentence from your template, indicating which fields are of which type? If so, then I will enter your exact template into my database and see if I can replicate your problem that way.

You might try using brackets [ ] in the given name field instead of parenthesis like Jane [Smth] Doe. Brackets seem to work for me when I use them for unknown given names of a wife like Jane [wife of John Doe]. Perhaps this approach doesn’t quite look as nice but it does emphasize the maiden name.


@thejerrybrian; I checked my source template, and it turns out I was wrong. My interviewee’s name is stored in a name field, not a text field as I had said. I could have sworn it was a text field. I think I got confused because I also have a IntervieweeLoc field which is text, and when I open the template editor it makes the columns displaying the field names too narrow to display the full name of the field and I guess misread the fields.

But now looking back, I wish RM would explain somewhere the true actions of the “Nickname style” setting. No where in either the help files or the RM9 user manaual do I see any conversation indicating it will actually cause parenthesis to flip to quotes or vice versa. I’ve submitted a request for that information to be added to the Help files, which seem to have zero discussion of the “Settings”. The user manual does have some discussion, but never does it say these characters will get converted.

I can now reproduce your problem.

Namely, I changed Settings => General Settings => Nickname Style from John (Jack) Kennedy to John “Jack” Kennedy. Then I changed a person’s name in one of my citations from Lucille Wright to Lucille (Lucy) Wright and RM changed her name in the citation to Lucille “Lucy” Wright. It was just as you described.

To tell you the truth, Settings => General Settings => Nickname Style normally has very little effect on my database. The normal usage of RM is to enter a name such as John Kennedy and then to add a nickname such as Jack. The style setting then determines whether to display the name as John (Jack) Kennedy or John “Jack” Kennedy. But I don’t use the nickname field at all because it doesn’t always transfer to software other than RM. So I would enter this particular name into RM as Kennedy in the surname field and John (Jack) in the given name field. I’m sure that’s somewhat non-standard, but it makes me happy.

It never in a million years would have occurred to me that Settings => General Settings => Nickname Style would end up changing names in citations. It certainly doesn’t change my John (Jack) in the main given name field to John “Jack”.

In the meantime, I also just now discovered that RM9 is ignoring the changes I make to fields in source templates when it is constructing footnote sentences. I put the details of this problem in its own thread. To get RM9 to take my changes, I have to click on Customize on the Footnote bar of the Edit Citation panel and then to click on Reset To Default. And it’s even worse than that, after I change the main RM9 Settings => General Settings => Nickname Style back to John (Jack) Kennedy and after I click Reset to Default, it’s still leaving the parentheses as quotes. So there are multiple levels to the strange happenings.

It’s worse than I thought. Even when I never changed Settings => General Settings => Nickname from John (Jack) Kennedy to John “Jack” Kennedy, it’s changing Lucille (Lucy) Wright to Lucille “Lucy” Wright in the source template.

I did my testing in a copy of my production database. I deleted the copy and made a new copy that already has John (Jack) Kennedy as the default nickname format. Without me changing anything except that I changed the name in the template from Lucille Wright to Lucille (Lucy) Wright, it listed the name as Lucille “Lucy” Wright in the footnote. Well, there is another bug that I explained in another thread. It wouldn’t change the name at all until I did Customize and Reset To Default in the Edit Citation panel in the Edit Person screen.

So Settings => General Settings => Nickname was a red herring. RM9 just thinks that parentheses in a name field in a source template indicates a nickname and the parentheses need to be changed to quotes.

Thanks @thejerrybryan for all your testing! It sounds like you agree with me that this is crazy behavior. Personally, I think that if a user quotes a name, it should stay quoted and if a user puts parentheses around a name, it should maintain the parentheses. We are entering it that way for a reason. RM should not go altering it.

Yes, I totally agree. It may or may not be working as designed. But if it is working as designed, it is a dysfunctional design that needs to be changed.

1 Like

In an off-line conversation with Renee at RM (via the support channel) I got the following response from her a few days back (sorry I’m slow getting it posted here as I’ve been ill)…

"Citations are separate from a Person’s Name. They do not use the same fields and the nickname setting does not apply to them. If the source template Field Type is Name there are variables that can be used in the source template language, such as Author:Surname or Author:Reverse.

Changing to quotes is intentional but I could not give you the ESM or developments reasoning for it in the source template language. It’s been this way since source templates were introduced in RM4. I see that other users have given you ways to work around recording the maiden name. Another option is to edit the field type from Name to Text. Then it will support whatever you enter. Just be careful if you used any name variables in the short footnote or bibliography. "

Changing the field type from Name to Text makes Source Template Language features such as :Surname and :Reverse unavailable. So I don’t think that’s a very satisfactory option.

Notwithstanding that replacing parentheses with quotes for Name type fields in Source Templates has been that way since day #1 of Source Templates, it seems to me that doing so is an erroneous design that makes no sense. I can sort of understand why the main nickname setting is not applicable. But I simply can’t think of any reason whatsoever to change the user’s data willy nilly without any options for the user to control the change. No software should ever do that.

I think of it in this way. There can be a reason not to use RM’s nickname feature. Namely, there is software with which you might wish to share your RM data that does not support RM’s nickname feature. Instead, you might enter a nickname into RM’s main given name and surname fields, viz., George Washington (Wash) as the given name and Smith as the surname. Under these circumstances, RM does not and should not replace the parentheses with quotes. Given that RM doesn’t replace the parentheses with quotes in the main name field, why should it replace the parentheses with quotes in the source template fields?

But it does, iirc, according to the setting for display of nicknames.

I had to double check to be 100% sure, but it sure looks like the nickname setting only applies to the nickname field and not to the main Given Name field.

To test, I changed the nickname setting to quotes and added a nickname field to a person who already had parentheses in the main Given Name field. Here is the result. The (Lester) is from the main Given Name field and the “Pete” is from the nickname field.


My bad - I should have checked before posting. That’s the bane of interacting with the forum on a phone. I also played with GEDCOM and see that the Nickname field itself is unmarked so it is purely the RM display setting for Nicknames in the file that controls the presentation. I also deleted the name-part fields from the GEDCOM and set the name to

1 NAME Lucille “Lucky” /Wright/

and to

1 NAME Lucille (Lucky) /Wright/

Both were imported literally into the Given and Surname fields only, nothing changed and nothing imported into the Nickname field.

Given my false impression, maybe I should check RM4…