Adding Reference Numbers to Family Tree Software

By Rick Crume Premium

Q. In Family Tree Maker software, I’d like to know how to automatically add a reference number to each family member. A few relatives already have numbers, and I want the new system to override them.

A. Years ago, when genealogy software was in its infancy, you needed to know a person’s ID (or “reference”) number to find his or her record. Now, most programs let you search for a person by name, so you don’t need to worry about ID numbers. But if your family has several people with the same name, ID numbers can help you keep all those John Smiths straight.

Family Tree Maker can create reference numbers automatically and include them in printed reports. Select File, then Preferences, then Reference Numbers. Check the box to use automatic reference numbers for individuals, marriages or both. If you want to include reference numbers in a tree, display the tree, click the Items to Include button and select Reference Number.

To include reference numbers in a family group sheet, display the report, click the Items to Include button, select Standard Page in the right panel and click the Options button. Then check the box to include individual reference numbers.

Reference numbers aren’t displayed with names on the screen in Family Tree Maker, so they’re not very helpful as you enter information. To view or change a person’s reference number, go to the Family Page, click on the More button and then on the Lineage button.

Personal Ancestral File can display reference numbers onscreen and include them in printed reports. Select Tools, then Preferences, then Names. Under Append to Names, select RIN (Record ID Number), Custom ID or AFN (Ancestral File Number). If you select RIN, individual and marriage ID numbers appear onscreen. To include ID numbers in printed reports, deselect the box for Suppress RIN/MRINs in the Reports and Charts menu. (For more software tips, read the June 2004 Family Tree Magazine, on sale April 27.)