Terry's TMG Tips

Customizing the “Children of” Statement

This page Updated 6 Feb 2009

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

TMG's Journal reports include a list of the children of the focus person, which is introduced with statement similar to:

Children of John Jones and Mary White were as follows:

If there are no children of the couple in the Data Set, a statement like this appears:

There were no children of John Jones and Mary White.

There are several report options to modify these statements, which apply to everyone in the report. A special Tag – NarrativeChildren – allows the user to construct a custom statement for each couple, or even to suppress that statement entirely. The following sections describe how this feature works and provides some tips on how to use it.

The Standard Statement

By default, the statement which introduces the list of children takes the following form:

Children of John Jones and Mary White are as follows:

If none of the children in the list are living (all have their Living Flag set to N), "are" is changed to "were":

Children of John Jones and Mary White were as follows:

If only one parent is connected to the children, the other parent is shown as "an unknown spouse":

Children of John Jones and an unknown spouse are as follows:

If there are no children of the couple in the Data Set, a statement like this appears:

There were no children of John Jones and Mary White.

Report Options

Three report options modify these statements. You must first check "Custom Format" on the General tab of the report Options screen to be able to change these options.

Checking "Count Children" on the Miscellaneous tab adds the number of children entered in the Data Set to the statement:

The three children of John Jones and Mary White are as follows:

Checking the "Children are 'known children' " option adds the word "known" to the statement:

Known children of John Jones and Mary White were as follows:

The three known children of John Jones and Mary White are as follows:

There were no known children of John Jones and Mary White.

Checking the "Group common birth places" option removes the children's place of birth from their individual sections in the list when they are all the same, and adds it to the "Children of..." statement:

Children of John Jones and Mary White, all born in Chico, California, are as follows:

These options apply to every couple in the report. They generally work well for a small, well researched family group. But a number of situations can make these options less than ideal. For example, if the report includes both well researched individuals and perhaps some more distant cousins for whom the research is less complete, it is difficult to make a good choice. Choosing the "known children" option acknowledges that your research is incomplete for the distant branches, but reporting that your sibling had "three known children" may cause readers to wonder if you are trying to say something you didn't intend. The NarrativeChildren Tag Type allows for a customized statement to be created for those couples for whom the standard statement is inappropriate.

The NarrativeChildren Tag

When a NarrativeChildren Tag is created for a couple, the output of that tag is substituted for the standard "Children of..." statement in Journal Reports. Both parents (or spouses) must be entered in the tag as Principals. If a person has multiple spouses, a separate NarrativeChildren tag must be created for each couple for whom you want a custom "Children of..." statement. If there are children for whom the other parent is unknown, a NarrativeChildren tag would be created with just the one Principal to create a custom statement for those children.

The NarrativeChildren Tag is used to replace the standard "Children of..." statement only if it is marked as Primary for both Principals. And, of course, it serves this special function only in Journal reports. In all other respects, it is a standard Tag in the Other Event group, and follows all of the rules for such Tags. For example:

The NarrativeChildren Tag Type can be renamed, for example to place a period as the first character so it sorts to the top of the list of tags. If you create copies of the Tag Type, the copies will not have the special function; only the original will replace the standard "Children of..." statement.

From the above, it may be apparent that the NarrativeChildren feature should be considered an advanced feature. It is certainly possible to create unexpected results with it, for example by having it appear as a regular tag in reports other than the Journal, or by creating non-primary Tags.

Creating Useful Sentences

The default Sentence for the NarrativeChildren Tag creates approximately the same output as the standard "Children of..." sentence, although it does not provide the variations described in the "The Standard Statement" and "Report Options" sections above. To be of any real use, the Sentence must be modified to suit whatever purpose one has in mind. The following considerations apply when constructing Sentences for the NarrativeChildren tag:

It seems to me that the best use of this feature is to first decide on a set of report options (see "Report Options" section above) that suits one's preferences and produces satisfactory results for the majority of the people in the Project. Then, design Sentences for the NarrativeChildren Tag that produces output consistent with the options selected, and add the Tag to those couples for whom the standard statement produces unsatisfactory results.

Creating Standard Roles

It may be possible to create a single standard Sentence for the NarrativeChildren Tag Type that meets all one's needs for custom "Children of..." statements. But doing so seriously limits the range of applications. For example, one could not create both statements for couples with children and for those with no children. One could overcome this difficulty by editing the Sentence in individual tags locally. Not only is that a lot of work, but it is difficult to maintain consistent wording in similar cases over a long period of data entry.

I believe the best solution is to create a set of Roles, each designed to be applied to a specific situation. Then simply apply the appropriate Role to each tag to generate the desired statements. Those not familiar with use of Roles may find my Roles Tutorial helpful. The following are some Roles I have developed in early experimentation, which may offer some ideas on potential use of the feature:

Role

Sentence

Notes

Known
[:TAB:]The known children of [P] <and [PO]> were as follows:[:NP:] I do not use the "Known children" option, so this adds that term when desired.
NoKnown
[:TAB:]There were no known children of [P] <and [PO]> Same as above when there are no known children.
NoResearch
[:TAB:]There has not been sufficient research to know whether [P] <and [PO]> had any children For those poorly researched distant cousins where no children are known.
PartialList
[:TAB:]After limited research the <[M]> known children of [P] <and [PO]> were as follows:[:NP:] For those couples where more children are suspected but not researched (number known optionally entered in the Memo).
Number
[:TAB:]There were [M] children of [P] <and [PO]>, including the following:[:NP:] When the number of children is known but not all are entered (number entered in Memo).
NumberNone
[:TAB:]There were [M] children of [P] <and [PO]>, whose names have not been identified When the number of children is known but none are entered (number entered in Memo).
Suppress
[:NONE:] Totally eliminates the "children" statement. Probably best for couples who are thought to have had children, but none are entered in the Data Set.

Generally, the same Role would be selected for both Principals.


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