It's easy to see why genealogy is a popular hobby for millions of people. Through diligent research, you can discover more about your personal history. As you research your family, you gain a new perspective on your own origins and family traditions. In the past, casual and professional genealogists had to conduct their research in person at town halls and records facilities. But the advent of online research makes family information easily accessible.
As your research reveals more and more about your family history, you can use genealogy software to organize your research and map out your ancestry with great detail. Genealogy software like Legacy, Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic provide templates for comprehensive reports to help organize and chart your progress as you go back in time. Sharing your findings with your living relatives and even working together on maps, charts and graphs about your shared ancestry will bring you closer. After digging, you may even find new relatives through your research. To learn more, take a look at our articles about Genealogy Software.
It helps to have an end goal in mind before you purchase any type of genealogy software. Some software is designed with professional genealogists in mind, and others are more basic and are geared toward researchers who are new to family history. Consider the following categories when you’re deciding on the best genealogy software for you.
If you're new to research or not sure where to start, look for genealogy software that connects to online databases and syncs documents directly to your records. Genealogy software for all levels should include research and organizing tools. Look for programs that import and export charts and use online databases to help you find more materials.
Reporting and Publishing
The more tools for customizing your charts and reports, the better. You should be able to adjust the look and content of each report or graphic to your liking. The best genealogy software packages offer templates and backgrounds to give a professional look to your reports. Flexible reporting is also a key feature. Every family is different, so you'll want to look for reporting capabilities that will let you include extended family and varied relationships, like stepchildren, adoptive family members and multiple marriages or divorces. Different charts highlight different types of information. Most genealogy software can create a basic family tree, but more advanced programs offer full reports on family patterns or a narrative report that focuses on an individual or branch's story.
Citation and Documentation
Citing and reporting your sources are an important part of the genealogical process. Look for software that can integrate a variety of print and online materials, one that can format your source into a proper citation. This will give your research a professional look and will keep your resources organized. Plus, this makes it easy to share your research and sources with others.
Help and Support
Genealogy software should be easy to use regardless of your skill level. Some programs use in-depth terminology and may be confusing for beginners. Look for software with helpful dialogue boxes, online support or problem spotting capabilities to check your work for potential errors.
Advanced genealogy software can improve your family history research process by organizing, storing and retrieving the ancestry information you discover. As you learn more about your family history, this software can generate family trees and other reports that make it easier to share your research with family members or other genealogists. You can also meet living relatives you never knew you had. Who knows, maybe you'll find a new branch of relatives to visit for Thanksgiving.
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