Terry's TMG Tips

Editing Charts in Visual Chart Form

This page created 28 Jul 2001; reformatted 20 Jan 2002

Applies to Versions 8 & 9

The chart generation feature of TMG offers a broad range of options for customizing your charts before they are generated (see my Chart setting tips for some suggestions). But the creative human mind can think of still more variations to fit a particular need or preference. TMG's companion chart editor, Visual Chart Form (VCF) allows further customization of charts after they are generated.

When I generate the large ancestor charts discussed here, I find there are a number of changes I like to make to suit my preferences. I've listed them below, followed by some tricks to move groups of boxes around with the least effort.

Terry's Chart Edit List

1. Check all the Boxes. I read the contents of all the boxes. Sometimes details that I really don't want in the chart slip by – I just edit them out. I have some "dummy" parents in my Data Set, with no name or just a surname, to connect known siblings, or to record a fact or two, like country of origin. If they appear on a chart, I remove those boxes.

2. Align all parent-child "forks" so that they are balanced. I move boxes up or down a bit to get the forked line connecting parents to child as evenly balanced as possible.

3. Adjust vertical alignment to use minimum total vertical dimension. The automated layout is quite good, but I find I can usually reduce the overall height of a six-foot chart by about 6 to 8 inches by closing up some gaps. If you are willing to allow more latitude on "balancing the forks" as described above, even more space can be gained.

4. Change the Title Boxes. I convert the chart title into two boxes so I could use different type sizes, and relocate them into an empty area of the chart for a more pleasing effect.

5. Edit the connecting lines for Duplicates. When an intermarriage produces "duplicate" parents, and the two appearances are located close enough on the chart, I remove the boxes with the "this person is a duplicate" label and add new connecting lines to show both children connected to the single appearance of the parents.

6. Edit "Duplicate" boxes. When the duplicate parents appears too far apart to use the above technique, but I edit the contents of the box to change the birth/death information to just the years, and change the "this is a duplicate" wording to italics.

7. Mark suspect entries. Especially if the chart is going to someone else, rather than for my own use, I mark names or child/parent links that I know may be in question. I add a text box with a disclaimer about the suspect lineages, and then edit the boxes of the suspect individuals, adding question marks to mark them as questionable.

Tips for Moving Boxes

Items 2 and 3 in the list above require moving groups of boxes, sometimes large groups, on the chart. You might also want to do that in order to insert a special object in a chart, or to move boxes so they don't fall on page breaks if you want to print a larger chart than fits on a single page (the Tools > Diagram > Repaginate menu command can help with the last issue). I've found the following steps to be helpful when editing a chart in VCF:

A. Create Room. If you are going to move boxes in a way that enlarges the total size of the chart, first you have to create room on the chart by enlarging the total size of the "canvas." Use Tools > Diagram > Diagram Measurements on the main menu and increase the width, height, or both.

B. Select a group of boxes you want to move. This is easier if you use a zoom level that lets you see the whole chart, or at least all the boxes you want to move. Click (not on a box or line) and drag the dotted line around everything you want to move. Sometimes the group you want to move has other boxes, not to be moved, close by, preventing you from selecting all of the this way. In that case, select the biggest group you can, then hold the Ctrl key while you select additional boxes – that adds them to the group already selected.

C. Now move all the selected boxes at once. You can do this with the "Nudge" command or toolbar icon. It's slow that way, but you don't have to worry about accidentally moving them a bit in the direction crosswise of what you intend. It may be easier to see what you are doing if you return the zoom level to normal during this operation.

A faster way, especially if you need to move the group quite a way, is to simply click and drag any of the selected boxes - they will all move with it. Wait before you release the mouse button to give the dotted line time to appear indicating where they will be moved to. In order to ensure that the boxes move only in the direction you intend, after you start dragging, press and hold Shift – this will force them to move in a straight line. You may need to practice this a time or two before you get the hang of it. I usually move the group most of the way by dragging, then fine tune with the nudge tool.


Occasionally, in moving boxes around, you get a misshapen connector between boxes like that shown on the right. For an explanation of why this happens, and how to fix it, see my Broken Line Tips

D. Repeat steps B & C for each additional group. Repeat the select and move process until all parts of the chart are as you like them.

E. Remove the extra space. Use Tools/Diagram/Size to Components on the menu to remove any the extra space left at the right or bottom by your editing.

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