Should I put record transcription into Citation or Note

When transcribing a record (like a Census entry), should I place the transcription in the Citation Field as a “Research Note”, or should I place it in the “Note” field of the Census Fact?

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There is no right or wrong way here. Some people even do it in both places. My suggestion is to copy your datafile and name it something like Test or PlayDB or something else clever, use this as the place to test out things that you are up in the air about. In this case, try both places and generate some reports and such to see how it looks to you.


Ken’s advise is good and it’s definitely a matter of choice, though there are a couple of benefits to transcribing in a Citation field such as the “Research Note” field. First, if you use a Citation Field the transcription will be automatically included whenever you “reuse” the citation. In the example of a Census entry, it’s common to reuse the citation as evidence for several facts (such as birth and/or death) and for several people. If you transcribe only to the Fact Note, the information is unique to the fact, not the citation. While RootsMagic supports the ‘sharing’ of facts, that feature is not supported by all platforms and, for that reason, some folks don’t like to share facts. And the ability to share the fact doesn’t help if you want to use the citation as evidence for another fact type. Also, in cases where there is more than one source supporting a fact, the fact note becomes pretty dense if you were to transcribe all of your sources into the fact note. Further, using a citation field to hold the transcription makes the citation unique so you don’t run into issues if you want to merge citations. I end up transcribing in the Citation and using the fact note to summarize meaningful or interesting details.


Thanks, Kenneth. I’ll take your advice. Actually, I wasn’t asking about a right or wrong way. What I’d like to know is whether or not there is a preferred way among the folks who use RM. … Ron

Thanks, Kevin. That is exactly what I needed to know. It does make more sense to use the Citation Research Note field. … Ron

It is probably easy enough to infer from my answer that no, there isn’t really a preferred way. From what I have seen, it is pretty evenly split with some chunk of the users deciding to do both.

Personally, I do neither. I feel no need to transcribe if I have an image of the record. These days, the vast majority of census records, that still exist, can be found in image form. More and more of the other records, such as BMD certificates and even the record books themselves can be had.

I always add the transcript to the Citation, Research Notes. On some records I will also include it in the person’s notes for the fact. An obituary is a good example. I add it to the death fact note for the deceased person only. Any family members mentioned in the obituary will receive a living or residence fact with the citation only, which includes the obituary if needed.


But then you have to go through another step to pull up the original record image and re-decipher the sometimes poor handwriting. I transcribe mine into the research notes. That has the added advantage of transferring via GEDCOM or a direct import into a program like Family Historian.

That’s true, Kenneth. But I have a large number of records from Ukraine, and they’re in Russian … also a fairly large number of records in Polish and Hebrew. It’s useful to transcribe the translations and place them in RM. So, I think I’ll put them in the Citation Research Note AND in the description field for each image.

Thanks again for your help.



That’s very useful insight. I’ll do that along with Kevin’s suggestions for using the Citation Research Note.

Thanks for your help. Have a Merry Christmas.


I’m in the “both” camp on this one. But if I were only going to put the transcription in one place I would put it in the Research Note and for the reasons that others have already mentioned.

Actually, for many kinds of events, I have a custom defined fact type as a companion to the primary event type. For example, I have a Birth Record fact type to go along with the Birth fact type and a Death Record fact type to go along with the Death fact type. So the transcription goes both into the Birth Record fact note and into the Research Note for its citation, or into both the Death Record fact note and into the Research Note for its citation. I started out transcribing directly into the Birth note and into the Death note. But by having a separate fact type, I can choose to include or not include the transcriptions in reports.

Census is an exception where I still transcribe directly into the Census fact note and into the Research Note for its citation. It’s hard to picture creating a separate “Census Note” fact just for the transcription.

Thank you, RW. It looks like you’re absolutely right. The responses to my question have really been helpful. … Ron

I very seldom ever pull them up again, and since, the links to the images directly import into Family Historian, I can get to them if there is need to. I, personally am not overly concerned that other people be able to read information from the record image. If I have sourced it properly, they can go find their own copy and read it to their hearts content. Otherwise the relevant information has been extracted into the appropriate facts. Most of the relatives that I would share with really don’t care where the information came from, they just want to see what someone else has done, so they don’t have to figure out how to do it.

A lot of my records from Canada are in 17th century French, which have, from time to time, stumped my French-Canadian brother-in-law. And I won’t even mention the ones in Latin (or maybe I will😏.) And the English writing from the 1500’s take a lot of work to plod through.