TMG™ My Way ©MJH 1996-2019

Modified September 18, 2019 2:18 pm
Michael J. Hannah <send e-mail>, Los Ranchos, NM.

Customizing TMG™
Using It My Way ©MJH

Notice: On July 29, 2014, Bob Velke, owner of Wholly Genes and developer of TMG announced:
    “I am sad to report that the decision has been made to discontinue The Master Genealogist ("TMG").”
Since the behavior and features of TMG are frozen as of the final TMG Version, I have tried to review, test, and update all the chapters in this book to ensure they reflect that final Version behavior. I have noted those cases where I realize I still need to do further testing against that final Version, but some points may have been missed.

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Index (no frames) - Modified September 18, 2019 2:24 pm

The Purpose and Nature of This On-Line Book

There are many configuration choices, optional features, and non-traditional usage and data entry methods possible using The Master Genealogist™ (TMG) software to allow you to use it “your way”. One of the best ways to understand these possibilities may be to examine how someone else has customized TMG. I began constructing this book with its cross-hyperlinked separate chapters to record “my way” of using and customizing TMG beginning in 1996 with Version 3. As much as possible these notes have been updated through the final Version release.

NOTICE/DISCLAIMER: This book is NOT a beginning tutorial on using TMG. If that is what you need, I recommend the book A Primer for The Master Genealogist. The information within this book is not authorized or official TMG documentation. Instead see the excellent embedded “Help” facility within the Version of the program you are using.

Much of what these chapters discuss involves advanced features of this software. I do not suggest what I have recorded is the correct way to customize or use TMG; these ideas may be inappropriate or even wrong for you. Customization is not even a necessary way to use TMG, as the software is carefully designed to be completely usable in its default configuration. Care must also be taken in viewing my book as some of these notes refer to issues I encountered or features I was using in earlier versions, and these may not (yet) be adequately tested or updated to reflect the final Version and the ideas may now be inappropriate or obsolete. As these chapters may contain errors, users should test any ideas or limitations mentioned against their version of the software. Readers may report any error which they find in this book on the TMG ListServ since I participate in that list and reporting it there also will alert others to the error.

This book simply records “my way” of customizing and using TMG. If you customize TMG, I recommend that you document “your way” to help you be consistent. Hopefully these chapters will give you useful ideas. TMG is remarkably capable of being customized and tailored to one’s personal style, but it is also considerably rich in features and options which take time to understand and choose how to use. I do not (yet) use all the features of TMG, so the information in these chapters is not comprehensive. Many aspects of TMG are not be mentioned here, especially some of the newer features. This is not a comment against such unmentioned features, as others probably use them and find them extremely valuable. I have simply not “gotten around” to considering or needing them (or recording my way to use them) yet. I have found it useful to deliberately chose those options and methods that do suit me, and record my decisions in this book so that I can be consistent and be reminded later why I made those decisions. Linda Kuhn humorously suggested on the TMG ListServ that TMG should come with a formal caution: “User customization of this product may be addictive and may inhibit the user's decision making abilities. Persons with retentive behaviors should not use this product.” Intentionally funny, but possibly true, at least with respect to me, as these chapters attest. Parts of any one of these chapters concerning my customization may be characterized as any or all of the following:

A Guide to Style

I have recorded my decisions on using various standard features, which optional advanced features I chose to use and how, and the background that led me to those decisions. I encourage you to decide on, adopt, and record a consistent style for your use.

My data entry standards

I believe consistency in data entry is valuable, and have documented some of my decisions of how and where I chose to enter different kinds of data so (hopefully) I will enter similar data the same way the next time. Consistency in data entry also helps when using the many search facilities within the program.

Definitions of some TMG features

While TMG includes a complete and official Help documentation, I developed, re-worded and/or expanded definitions of some (but not all) of the many TMG features. My notes and definitions tend to focus on those features I regularly use, want to remember and/or find I tend to forget. And I choose to group information about various features in ways different from TMG Help that I find easier to locate.

Lessons learned

As I have used TMG and heard from others on the TMG ListServ and Wholly Genes, Inc. forum, I have learned tricks and tips about using and customizing TMG. I have tried to record such ideas both as future reminders in case I might use them, but especially if I have adopted or adapted them for my use.

Table of Contents
Chapters and Topics

General Concept Chapters

These chapters attempt to collect and document in some organized fashion broad TMG topics, and my overall principals, concepts, and usage of TMG for my genealogy projects.

Style Guide - Modified April 17, 2019 11:45 am

This chapter is a general discussion of my, often non-standard, way of using TMG, plus a collection of several topics that I did not chose to separate into individual chapters or files. (60 pages) 1

• Miscellaneous Topics:

• Numbering: Unused TMG numbers, People Numbering, Source Numbering


System Issues

Separate Project Data, Install Two Copies, External Links, System Errors

Display Options

Collate Sequence, People Accents and Filters, Fonts, View History, View Timelines, Layouts, Toolbar Buttons, Multiple Witnesses

Pseudo People

• Issues: Names, Gender, Sort Order

• Types: Year, Surname, People, EOL, Location, Cemetery, Repository, Research, Source, Census, Sentence, Ship, TMG, Unmarried, Tag Accent, Other



• Standard: Adopted, Birth Order, Living, Sex, others

• Custom: Pseudo, Main/Blood, Edited, SS, Work, Find, Events, Parent Surety, Related By


Secondary Output, TOC and Indexes, Title Variables, Spell Checker, HTML Reports, Filters, Fonts, Charts, Bugs

Report Tips: General, Options, Naming, Default Text, Tag Types, Special Purpose Reports

Specific Reports: Family Group Sheet, Individual Detail, Individual Narrative, Journal Report, List of People, Descendant Indented, NEHG standards

Research Log

Overview, Task Name, Task Keywords, Completed Tasks, Task Dates, Task Reports, Tracking Sources

Companion Products: TMG Utility, Second Site, GedStar, PathWiz!, TagWiz!


Importing, Merging, Export, and GEDCOM - Modified September 20, 2019 1:08 pm

This chapter includes a variety of topics dealing with getting data files into and out of TMG. Many of these features have significantly changed and improved as the TMG versions have evolved. Of special interest, now that development of TMG has ceased, is exporting to GEDCOM, especially its Enhanced Export option introduced in Version 9.04. (36 pages)

Importing and Exporting

Sources, Source Types and Source Elements, Tag Types and Styles, Project Files (with or without retaing customizations), People


Data Sets:
Tag Types, Source Types, Source Elements, Sources, Repositories, Styles, Flags, Places, Tasks, Exhibits, People

People, Places/Locations, Sources and Source Types, Repositories

GEDCOM Versions


ID Numbers, Names, Dates, Places/Locations, Two-Principal Tags, Relationship Tags, Citations, Sources, Repositories, Tag Names, Default Tag Names, Exhibits, My recommendations, Character Sets

V9.04 Enhanced GEDCOM Export

Address/Telephone, Note/Name dates, Sort dates, Witnesses, Surety, Repository detail, Lengthy descriptions


Name Title/Prefix issues, NOTE tags, Assigning tags, Unassigned tags, Relationship Tags, Name data, Source data

Association of programs with the ‘.ged’ file type extension


Data Entry - Modified September 10, 2019 9:06 am

This chapter attempts to document the data entry standards that I try to follow (if I remember) for data that is common throughout TMG and across many different types of information. Data entry of information unique to major specific topics (e.g. census data, sources, and tags) I have documented separately. (29 pages)



Blank Names, Index Name, Sort Names, Married Name, Selected Name, Name Styles, U.S. Standard Name style, Name Title Field, Name Style sorting and indexes, Name Style Templates


Irregular Dates, Old Style, Modifiers, Question Mark, Say/Circa, After, Same-day Ordering, Internal Structure, Sort Order, BC Dates


F2 Sort Code, L10 Codes, Place Styles, Repository Place Styles, Short Place, Second Site Places, Latitude/Longitude

My Place Usage: U.S. locations, Non-U.S. Locations, General Conventions

Surety Values

Special Characters:

Long ‘s’, Non-ANSI, Special Use



Add Person


Source Documentation Chapters

One of TMG’s distinguishing features is its robust ability to document sources that support the genealogy data. I have multiple chapters on this topic as this is an area that especially lends itself to customization and personal standardization, and believe one should carefully document the many personal choices associated with this topic.

Source Guide - Modified September 19, 2019 5:40 pm

This chapter captures my general comments about the usage and customizations of typical sources. (42 pages)

Abbreviations for sources in the Master Source List: Codes, Details

• General Source Data Entry conventions and issues:

Citation Reference, APID

CDs, CMs, Reminders


Special characters

Source of source

Copying sources

Embedded citations

Unknown source

Ibid and Unique Endnotes: Ibid, Unique

Source Exhibits

Exhibit Fields: Topic, Reference, Caption, Description, External filename

My exhibit fields examples: Topic, Caption, Description, External filename

Text exhibits

General Exhibit Notes (Internal/External, Order, Storage, Printing)

• Creating Source Pseudo People


Tags: Src Link

Transcript Printing

Link Source to Source People

Dummy Sources

Use of Surety


Abbreviations in the Master Repository List

Repository Pseudo People

Repository Person Names


Source Templates - Modified August 28, 2019 11:37 am

The structure of source citations which will output in reports are defined by source templates. They are often dependent upon ones’ personal standards and/or the standard used by some publication. This chapter describes my own standards for citations (which are based on but modified from various citation style guides) so report citations will output “my way”. I have made “some” changes in nearly all of the templates provided with TMG, but the following are my most customized source types and their templates. (62 pages)

Overview: Style, (ShortFootnote, FullFootnote, Bibliography)

SecondSite automatic treatment of URL sources

My use of Source Elements

My Source Templates

Ancestral File, Baptismal Certificate, Baptismal Register, Birth Certificate, Birth Church Register, Birth Register, Burial Cemetery Register, Burial Certificate, Burial Church Register, Census, City (or County) Directory, Correspondence, Death Certificate, Death Church Register, Death Register, Electronic Database, Electronic Database-FindAGrave, Employment Record, Family Group Sheet, Government Certificate, Government Register, International Genealogical Index, Interview, LDS Patron Sheets, LDS Pedigree Resource, Manuscript, Marriage Certificate, Marriage Church Register, Marriage Register, Miscellaneous, Obituary/Newspaper Article, Obituary/Newspaper Lumped, Passenger List, Photograph, Published work, Published work-combined, Records (MultiVolume), School Record, SSDI

• I also find this chapter a convenient place to collect other miscellaneous ideas about possible source templates.


Source Elements - Modified September 18, 2019 2:16 pm

This chapter documents the source elements including those custom elements I have added. (11 pages)

• Multiple variable names for source elements are synonyms within source element Groups

• Specially handled “people” group variables

• My group name abbreviations

• My Source Element Table. (1 page) - Modified April 17, 2019 12:00 pm

• My source element Variable Names by group and alphabetically:

Address, Agency, Annotation, Applied To, Arrival Date, Article Title, Author, Author Address, Author E-Mail, Bible Title, Book Title, Call Number, CD, Census Date, Chapter Title, Church, Citation Detail, Citation Memo, Citation Reference, CM, Comments, Compilation Title, Compile Date, Compiler, Compiler Address, CREF, Date, Date Obtained, Document, Edition, Editor, Employer, Entry Port, Essay Title, Family Info, File Date, File Name, File Number, File Reference, Film, Film Number, First Party, Household, Informant, Informant Address, Interview Date, Interviewer, Journal Title, Jurisdiction, Listserve, Location, Location Detail, M, Manuscript Info, Memo, Name Of Person, Newspaper, Newspaper Title, Number, Original Date, Page, Pages, Period, Photographer, Present Owner, Printout Date, Pseudo Person, Publish Date, Publisher, Publisher Address, Publisher Location, Reader, Recipient, Recipient Address, Record Group, Record Info, Record Number, Record Title, Record Type, Register, Register Title, Repository, Repository Address, Repository Info, Repository Memo, Repository Reference, Roll, RM, Second Date, Second Location, Second Party, Second Person, Section, Series, Ship Name, Short Article Title, Short Bible Title, Short Book Title, Short Chapter Title, Short Compilation Title, Short Essay Title, Short Journal Title, Short Newspaper Title, Short Record Title, Short Register Title, Short Subtitle, Short Title, Speaker, Spouses’ Names, Subject, Subset, Subset Volumes, Subtitle, Testator, Text, Title, Transcriber, Translator, URL, Version, Volume, Volumes


Census Source Data Entry - Modified April 17, 2019 11:36 am

How to record the wealth of information found in the special source that is census data has prompted considerable discussion and debate among genealogists in general and TMG users in particular. It involves both custom source issues (see above) and custom tag issues (see below). There are numerous suggested methods. My non-standard method of using TMG for this purpose is only one way. While I find it sufficiently comprehensive for my needs, it is complex and very customized and requires careful documentation and strict data entry rigor to ensure I consistently follow my method. (33 pages)

Background: Data available, TMG options, My method

Census Dates

Census Pseudo People: Tag Sort Dates and Roles, Names, Name Styles, Relationships, Families, Examples

Census Data Entry: Action sequence, Exhibits

Finding People with No Census Tag

Census Tags: Census/CensOrig , CensusEnum, CensusFind, CensusNil, CensusX, CensusXFind, CensusXNil

My Census Sentences: Census/CensOrig, CensusEnum, CensusFind, CensusNil, CensusX, CensusXFind, CensusXNil

Census Sources

Custom Tag Documentation Chapters

TMG tag types record different types of data and define sentences concerning that data that are used to produce reports. Significant ways to customize TMG are by modifying the standard tag types, defining your own additional tag types and roles, and crafting the sentences these tag types will produce in reports.

Customizing for non-Primary Children - Modified April 17, 2019 11:41 am

This chapter separately documents the custom tag types and custom usages of standard tag types I use to record information about non-Primary and non-biological children (for example adopted or step children, and pseudo children) in a way to report them appropriately different but similar to Primary biological children. (25 pages)

Customizations overview to handle non-biological/non-Primary children

Customizations to handle SS conditionally excluded parents or children

Customizations to record Adoption

Approaches: One Dataset Person, Two Dataset Persons

Recording Adoption Events with Custom Tag Types

• Custom Adoption Tag Types:

Adoption/AdoptOrig , Adoptee, AdopteeFind,
AdoptGive, AdoptGiveFind,
Adopting, AdoptingFind, AdoptLink

Family Section FS Note Events and my custom use

Sort order for multiple Family Sections

Description of these tag types

NarrativeChildren tags in TMG

NarrativeChildren and FamilySectionNote tags in Second Site

My Custom Usage of these tags:

Listing Pseudo People’s “Children”
Listing Non-Primary Children
Listing Adopted Children
Listing Step Children
Listing other people

Family Section TMG and SS custom output

Role reminders


Tag Type Descriptions - Modified August 17, 2019 3:49 pm

The ten fixed tag groups defined in TMG can each contain multiple tag types. Each tag associated with a person in the dataset is an instantiation of a tag type, and is intended to be used to record a specific type of information or aid in producing specific report output. This chapter describes my customizations of standard tag types and the custom tag types I use. (66 pages)

Tag Groups, Tag Types, and Tags

Groups: Name, Birth, Relationship, Marriage, Divorce, Death, Burial, History, Address, Other

Tag Attributes

Type, Primary, Memo, Sentence, Citation, Principals, Dates, Place, Witnesses

My Tag Type Customizations: Names, Colors

Relationship Tag Types

Standard: *-Ado, *-Ste, *-Oth
Custom: *-Bio2, *-Can, *-Nil

Name Tag Types

Name Tag Styles: AllFields, Census, Location, Married, OneName, Repository, Source, SurnamePreSort
Name Tag marked Primary, Inferred Name Parts
Indexes and Exclusion: TMG Name/People Index, Second-Site Name Index

Name-Adopted, Name-Assume, Name-Baptism, Name-Birth, Name-Chg, Name-Comm, Name-Index, Name-Link-Only, Name-Loc-Var, Name-Marr (Name-Marr, Name-Married, Name-Marr-Title, Name-Maiden), Name-Nick, Name-One, Name-Step, Name-SurnameSort, Name-Title, Name-Var

Custom Tag Type Name Suffixes

*Alt, *Assume, *Date, *Excl, *Find, *Img, *Loc, *Narr, *Nil, *Sens, *Sum, *Text

Alphabetical List of Custom Event Tag Type Descriptions: 2

Address, Adoption/AdoptOrig , Adoptee, AdopteeFind, AdoptGive, AdoptGiveFind, Adopting, AdoptingFind, AdoptLink, Anecdote, AnecdoteExcl, AnecdoteSens, Associatn, Author, BaptAdult, BaptFind, Baptism, BaptNil, Birth, BirthAssume, BirthFind, BirthIlleg, BirthMultiple, BirthNil, BirthOrder, BirthPar, BirthRec, BirthStill, Burial, Cem-list-head, Census Tags, ChildFind, Christning, Codicil, Conflict, Correspondence, Created, Cremation, Death, DeathAssume, DeathAssumeBur, DeathAssumeCrem, DeathFind, DeathNil, Descriptn, Dissolved, Divorce, Divorce Fl, DivorceAssume, DivorceFind, Duplicate, DupNil, Education, EmigFind, Emigration, Employment, Event-Misc, FamilySectionNote, Graduation , Guardian, GuardianFind, Illness, ImmigFind, Immigratn, JournalConclusion, JournalIntro, LocationLink, Marr Assume, Marr Bann, Marr Cont, Marr Dummy, Marr Find, Marr Lic, Marr Never, Marr Nil, Marr Not, Marriage, Milit-Beg, Milit-End, MilService, Misc, MiscFind, MiscNil, MovedFrom, MovedTo, MoveFind, MultipleBirth, NarrativeChildren, Natlzation, Note, Num Child, Num ChildExcl, Num ChildSens, Num Marr, Obituary, Occupation, Ordained, Ordination, Probate, PsgrList, Related, RelateFind, Research, ResidedAddress, ResideFind, Residence/ResideOrig , Sex Change, Src Link, TestTag, Title-Event, Transcript, TranscriptExcl, TranscriptSens, Twin, Widow(er), Will


Tag Sentence Details - Modified August 21, 2019 11:12 am

This chapter separately documents the tag sentence variables, their meanings, and how I commonly use them. (27 pages)

Sentence Variables

Special Characters: Conditional, Living, Two Principals, Sensitivity, Exclusion, Trailing punctuation and concatenation

Linked People, Parents, Age, Date, Location, Memo, Empty Split Memo Parts, Memo Variables Table, Embedded Format Codes, Embedded Format Codes Table

Roles for people in tags

Default Roles, Role Names, Role Variables


Tag Sentences - Modified April 17, 2019 11:41 am

Finally, this chapter contains the details of the sentences for all tag types and roles which I use. (55 pages)

• Tag Type Sentence Index by Tag Group

Address, Birth, Burial, Death, Divorce, History, Marriage, Name, Relationship, Other

• My Tags and Sentences

Description of the conventions used in my Tags and Sentences table


Table of my Tag Types and Sentences


I have progressively used more and more of TMG since Version 3 in 1996, although I had followed its development even earlier. Some of the comments in this book are dated to earlier versions and may not apply to the final Version, but I have tried to keep the information up to date. The following identify sources of various ideas which appear in this book and for whose contributions I am grateful:

Many TMG Users

Several of the ideas and documentation may have been mentioned in some form by other users over nearly two decades, and I owe many people acknowledgement, but I had the foresight to record the names of only some of them. If you see an idea that you think was originally yours but I did not attribute it to you, my apologies and thank you, and if you let me know I will acknowledge that in these chapters. If I have mentioned you but misrepresented your ideas, again my apologies, please let me know and I will try to correct that.

TMG, its Help files, and earlier printed Users Guides

The definitive source for the behavior of TMG is the software itself and its official Help documentation embedded with each version of the software. As others have stated in the past, I also believe it is (still) the most comprehensive and professional genealogy software of anything else currently on the market, even though TMG is no longer sold, and I acknowledge its value to me in my genealogical endeavors.

TMG On-line Forum sponsored by Wholly Genes, Inc.

This was the officially sponsored forum for posting questions and receiving answers concerning the TMG software both from the vendor and from the many users who subscribed to the forum. Anyone may browse the Forum and its questions and replies, but you must register to make any postings. Wholly Genes no longer has staff to respond to questions posted on this forum, but as long as the forum continues to be on-line 3 volunteer users have pledged to try to answer posts.

A Primer for The Master Genealogist© 4

Written by long-time knowledgable user Terry Reigel, the book is designed to help new users quickly become comfortable and adept with TMG. Its second edition has been updated to reflect TMG Version 8. Both editions provide an introduction to TMG features in straightforward terms, with a level of detail and clear graphics that helps but doesn’t overwhelm a novice user, and can be an excellent refresher even for long-time users especially of unfamiliar features.

Getting the Most Out of The Master Genealogist (GMOTMG)© 5

Compiled and edited by long-time TMG user and original moderator of the TMG ListServ, Lee H. Hoffman, this is an invaluable reference for new and seasoned users alike. Although TMG has added new features since this edition was written in 2003, almost all of what it describes is still appropriate to the final Version of the software.

TMG ListServ at Rootsweb

This e-mail ListServ is organized by and run by users of TMG. Its current moderator is Constance Horne. It has no official affiliation with Wholly Genes, Inc., but both novice and seasoned TMG users who subscribe to this ListServ are often the best source of explanations and suggestions on clever ways to customize and use the software. Many of the ideas in these documents originally were mentioned in some form by one of these users or inspired by comments on this ListServ. Since this ListServ existed long before the official on-line forum was created, its archives are invaluable for dealing with older versions of the software, and for an historical perspective on the development and enhancements of TMG over time. Questions on using some feature to customize TMG can often be answered by posting a question on this ListServ, or by browsing or searching its archives. I expect this ListServ to continue to exist as long as there are active users of TMG.

Other TMG user web sites

Many TMG users have published web sites over the years that have explained and documented features of TMG and suggestions on how it might be used. I have often found nuggets of ideas in them, and many of the comments and methods in these documents were born of these ideas. There are too many sites to name, so I suggest starting by browsing the list of user sites at the Wholly Genes forum, or browsing the archives of the TMG ListServ identified above for sites mentioned. Among many others, the following people have websites that have been of especial value and help to me as I developed and evolved “my way” of using TMG.

• Wholly Genes forum list of user sites:

• Terry Reigel:

• Lee Hoffman:

1. The page count for each chapter is the approximate number of 8½ x 11 single-sided pages required to print the file in 12 point type. Total count, including this special introductory section, would be 385 pages, not counting the Index.

2. This list only uses the pre-Version 8 abbreviated Tag Type names, as those are what I still use in my projects.

3. As it was hosted by Wholly Genes, it is not clear how long it will continue to be available now that the company has closed. Since 2009 I have been privileged to be one of several users who were moderators of this forum, and intend to continue to reply to posts as long as the forum is on-line.

4. Terry Reigel, A Primer for The Master Genealogist (Boone, North Carolina: ReigelRidge Press, 2008). Edition one was originally written for Version 7. In December 2011 Terry released a second edition which was updated for TMG Version 8. Although I recommend the second edition, either edition is still of significant value when using earlier versions as well as the final version of the software.

5. Lee H. Hoffman, compiler and editor, Getting the Most Out of The Master Genealogist (GMOTMG). (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 2003). Last I checked (Dec 2018) it was still available both new and used on Amazon.


I am not affiliated in any way with TMG™, its company Wholly Genes, Inc., or its primary author Bob Velke. I am simply a satisfied user of this software package and have constructed these documents to aid me in its use.

If others find these documents useful, so much the better. I do not warrant in any way that they are accurate or useful, and any use of them is at the user’s own risk.

These documents were composed with Adobe® Framemaker® using its hyperlink and HTML conversion features.

©MJH Consulting, 1996-2019. All rights reserved.