Q. I’ve been typing my research into a word processing file. Is there a way to convert it into a genealogy database without having to input everything manually?
A. Word processing software is the best tool to write a narrative family history. But for organizing lots of names, dates and places, genealogy software offers many advantages. Once you enter your information, you can print various reports, generate a Web site and easily exchange files with other researchers.
Alas, there’s no way to magically convert your word processing document into a genealogy database. But you can take steps to efficiently enter your family information into your genealogy program. First, open your word processing document in one window on your computer screen and your genealogy file in another one. It’s easiest if you can see both windows at once, without any overlap.
You’ll probably find it faster to retype names and dates, but use copy and paste for longer strings of text. In Windows, highlight the text you want to copy and press Control-C. Then click where you want to paste the text and press Control-V. On a Mac, it’s the Command key plus C or V.
Most genealogy software has built-in tools to speed data entry: Start typing a place name you’ve used before, and the program will automatically complete it. Create a master source citation, and you can reuse it again and again.
If you break up the job into small pieces – say, different branches of your family tree – it’ll seem less daunting.