What does your workflow look like using RM with Ancestry?

Definite newbie question as I’m trying to figure out how to best manage my tree. I’d love any tips and tricks you have with going back and forth between the two.

I have synced my RM and Ancestry trees, but I’m trying to decide which one I prefer to be the main one I work from and I’m curious how others do it.

Do you find it easier to add things to Ancestry and then sync to RM, or do you start with RM and then sync to Ancestry? Or maybe a combo of both?

From my very limited experience, I prefer working from RM, but I find the adding of sources to be tedious and confusing. Ancestry adding them for me is so much easier. But many times, the things I am finding aren’t on Ancestry. Maybe they are on FamilySearch, or in a book, or some other resource. So answering my own question, I’m thinking I need to just get better at understanding the citing of sources?

Any tips, tricks or ideas to help me wrap my brain around this is very appreciated!

If you want help understanding source citations in general, I recommend picking up a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. You can get it on Amazon for about $60 hardcover.

Once you understand the theory behind citations, which she does a really thorough job of explaining, you’ll be better equipped to understand how your choices impact your workflow.

Thank you for the recommendation. My library has a copy so I’ll take a look.

Best approach is to treat the database on your computer as the master and upload to ancestry rather than the reverse.

Forget the techy book approach to source citations. All you really need is a trail of breadcrumbs back to where you found the information. One source (book/website/email/piece of paper) may have information in different parts supporting different facts meaning different citations of that source.

A properly formatted citation is a trail of breadcrumbs. By knowing how to create accurate citations, you will be better able to understand other, professional citations.

Of course, the amount of time you spend learning how to cite sources should be commensurate with what you want to do with your genealogy. Are you just a name collector (like so many who download anything at all from ancestry)? Do you want to publish in serious genealogy publications? Do you want to be able to hand your genealogy down to the next generation so that they have confidence in it?

A genealogy without cited sources is no little different than fiction to other researchers.

I totally agree with Rooty about storing your master db on your own computer. That way you have total control over it.

Name collectors often have records included with their mass harvesting but it is comical how often those have nothing to do with their genealogy.

My issue with formal citation approaches is that they are overly complicated with confusing and overlapping templates designed to print nicely in reports. Content is less important than form just like in scientific papers (get the semicolons right…ignore data logic and conclusions).

Thank you very much for your response.

I am extremely careful about citations, but I know they aren’t formatted according to any standard. I am a hobbyist and I just want to verify the info, and be able to find it again if/when it’s needed. And so far I think I’ve been successful. I usually document the source, and download the image. I add the source to Rootsmagic, and also attach the media to the source. Then I put in the information for the master source (if it’s not in my database already) and then put in the citation for the details of this particular need. Does that sound about right? It is tedious, like I mentioned, but perhaps I’m getting a bit better at it the more I use the software.

I picked up my grandmother’s tree in the mid 90’s (she’s DAR so everything was well documented) and have been working on it on and off since then. But I’ve always done it by hand. I did add it to Ancestry years and years ago. But primarily, my research is all in 3-ringed binders. Since she’s the one who taught me, I just picked up her system and ran with it.

Since I’m new to Rootsmagic, I guess I just wanted to know the system (if there even is one) or SOP you use when you find a new fact. For example, this is how I’ve been doing it:

  1. Open Rootsmagic and connect to Ancestry.
  2. If I’m not already pursuing a line of research, I’ll look at a hint to see where I want to go next.
  3. If the hint is something I want to explore, I view it online, look at the document image (if there is one) and decide if it is my person. If it is my person, I open up the side by side box and move over any new data, I accept the hint and the source downloads.
  4. Separately, I download the media and put it into a different filing system I have in the cloud that is organized by categories that I set up.

The majority of the time though, I work down my own rabbit trails. When I find facts on my own, I am adding the info myself and setting up the source myself. And that’s where I get nervous about not citing properly, or if I’m adding it to Rootmagic corretly.

But now that I’ve typed all that out, it is occurring to me that there isn’t a Rootsmagic Police who is going to come and inspect my sources and kick me out of the club. haha

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far! :slight_smile:

Ahhhh…thank you.

And thanks for letting me know that the database on my computer is the one to work from.

Think a lot of us would be in the pokey, if there was the Rootsmagic Police!!!-- Thanks for the laugh!! –
I also think you should keep your main file on RM…
As for citations, I’ve seen some citations that look like a book and some that are short and to the point-- the name of document only-- both were written by the same person–so basically it’s whatever you want to do and you seem like you have a pretty good system going…
It sounds like you also have a good way of dealing with media BUT would suggest searching this forum for media and Ancestry also as there has been a lot of discussions…

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My method is very similar to yours. I had a database on ancestry that I didn’t have in RM. It is my (adopted) cousins tree for her birth family. I decided to use it to learn how to use RM9 and tree share. I HATE the way ancestry names media. That decided it for me - I will not be syncing from ancestry to RM since you can’t turn off the media download.

Since I didn’t have any of the media for my cousins tree on my computer, I am currently in the process of renaming and moving the media for my filing system. I will NOT be using treeshare for my other databases which I do have in RM7. I intend to convert over one of my smaller databases to she how RM9 handles the media for that.


I agree that the book / author gets a bit pedantic. But I think it’s still a good idea to review it, for the following reasons:

  1. The inside cover has an excellent process diagram that illustrates the difference between a source, information & evidence.
  2. The first 2 chapters give sound advice on how to do quality research and documentation
  3. A lot of RM templates are based on the book’s source citation templates. So understanding what’s in the book can help explain why the application is doing certain things that may be confusing or frustrating, etc.

It also depends on the genealogists end goal, as @Rwcrooks pointed out. If a user just plans on gathering the information for themselves and go no farther, that’s one thing. But, if they’re planning on publishing their work then understanding & doing what will be expected up front by publishers etc is going to save a lot of re-work (and money) down the line.

And back up your files regularly, and in multiple geographically-separated places. A dead computer can be difficult to retrieve data from. A housefire can take out your entire research effort.

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The only template I use is Free Form. It is perfect for all sources and transfers to othe software like Family Hostorian flawlessly.

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My 2 cents worth: I did a formal uni course in family history a while back, and biggest benefit was getting guidance on approach to citations as required for any formal academic work but style applicable for family history. I concur with use of freestyle template being most flexible, allowing me to use style I used for academic studies, and also is optimal for data exchange with different software tools - still an area of to treat with caution as I’ve found tools vary in their support / compliance interpreting GEDCOM. Yes, citing of sources can get laborious and tedious at times, but being able to point to “evidence” is valuable in establishing bona fides of proof which is at the heart of Evidence Explained - I think a great reference, but literal use individual templates in software an overkill. Each to their own of course.

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