Terry's Second Site Tips

Customizing Words and Phrases

This page updated 19 Apr 2013

Version note: Applies to Second Site 5 & 6

This article describes how to customize your site by use of the "Strings" section. Strings is a technical term in computer circles meaning "text," or more simply "words." Many of the labels, words, and phrases that Second Site places in your site can be modified by use of the Strings section. Other articles in my Second Site Section cover other topics about customizing your site.

Topics Included in this Article
What is the function of the Strings section?
Changing Standard Phrases
Many of the standard phrases can be changed
Date Modifiers
Adding abbreviated forms; getting rid of "circa" and "say"
Family Explorer
Re-labeling the "Partners & Children" section
Missing Name Parts
Changing missing surnames to "Unknown Surname"
ID Number Label
Changing the label for the TMG ID number
Family Section
Deleting "+" for children with children
Place Preposition
Changing the default place preposition from "at" to "in"

The sections below describe the function of the Strings section and provide some examples of changes to them that I have found useful.

Introduction to Strings

While most of the text in the site Second Site creates comes from the data you have entered in TMG, some words and phrases do not. For example, dates are stored in TMG as numbers, and when days of the week or months are output as text that text is created by Second Site. Modifiers, such as "before," "after," and "about" are translated from codes in the TMG data to text by Second Site. Second Site also creates various labels for pages, sections and link within pages, such as "Family," "Sources," and "Next Page." The text Second Site used for all these and many more is controlled by entries in the Strings section.

Some of the sub-sections within the Strings section are for terms or phrases relating to a particular type of data, such as dates or places. Others relate to particular sections or pages in the site, such as the Calendar, Charts, or the Family Explorer section of Person Pages. The Strings section for People Strings is shown below.strings

The string values shown are the default values for English (U.S.). When you create a site definition you select a site language, and the Strings section is populated with strings for that language, as shown in my Second Site Basics article. If you later change the Site Language setting in the Data > Language section you are asked whether you want to reset the String settings to the new language, as described in my Special Issues article (ver 5 and later).

Once the default values are entered based on your Site Language setting, you can change any of the strings to better suit your own preferences. You may prefer different terms or labels in some cases. The Strings section is also controls the preposition "at" or "on" used by default before places and dates, respectively.

Changing Second Sites's Standard Phrases

If you want to change a phrase Second Site places in your site, browse through the various sub-sections of the String section and find where it that string is controlled. You can simply edit the value and re-make your site to see the results.

The value fields in this section may contain HTML codes in addition to text. Notice the "Children Indicator" string at the bottom of the screenshot above, which contains the HTLM codes "<strong>...</strong>" which produce bold text.

There are other special cases, such as "Parent Sentence" string near the top of the same screenshot. It can contain TMG's Sentence Variables, as well as the special Second Site [PARX] variable, which is similar to TMG's [PAR] variable, but does not include the leading comma and space. The names of the months in the Strings > Date Strings 3 section are in the form "January||Jan," where the first part is used if the full month is called for by the date format selected for a particular entry, and the second is used when the abbreviation is called for. When you have questions about the required formatting, with the section in question open press F1 to open the appropriate section of Help, which has good explanations of any special cases.


The following are some of the Strings I've found I wanted to modify, which may provide useful ideas. My examples are based on the default Strings for the Site Language I use, English (U.S.).

I wanted to change two of the modifiers used with dates. I wanted the modifier "say" to be replaced with "around" in text when the spelled-out form rather than when the abbreviation is specified. And I wanted the rather stuffy "circa" to be changed to "about." So I edited the following strings:

Strings > Date Strings 2

Say Date Word around||say
Circa Date Word about||abt

These entries are in two parts. The part before the "||" delimiter is used when the full term is called for by the specified date format. The part after the delimiter is used when the user has specified that an abbreviation is to be used, such as in life-spans. The "|" delimiter is found on most keyboards at the lower right, usually above the "\" character, and generally shown on the key cap with a break in the middle, like two hyphens arranged vertically.

If no text is specified for the abbreviation Second Site uses the first three letters of the full term. So the default "before" and "after" terms in English do not require specifying an abbreviation because the usual abbreviation "bef" and "aft" are automatically extracted by the program.


The Family Explorer (ver 5 and later) includes a list of the spouses and children of the subject person. I find the default label "Partners & Children" for that section awkward, since so far as I know all the parents of children in my site were married (I don't include living people, where that is not always the case, in my site). I also wanted to change the label on the button that opens the Family Explorer. So I edited the following two strings:

Strings > Family Explorer Strings

Button Text Family Chart
Partners_Children Heading Spouse(s) & Children


I prefer that the indexes display missing surnames as "(surname unknown)" rather than the default "(?)." So I edited the following string:

Strings > Name Strings

Missing (surname unknown)

This also changes the way missing names are displayed in the people pages, but my primary interest was in how they looked in the indexes. Because this string also is applied to given names, including the word "surname" will not work well if you have people in your site with missing given names.


I like to include the TMG ID number on the line below each person's name so readers asking about someone with a name that appears several time in my site can refer to the correct person. I wanted the label for that number to read "ID#" instead of just "#." So I edited the following string:

Strings > Page Strings

ID Prefix ID#&nbsp;

The code at the end is the HTML code for a "non-breaking space", and creates a space between the text and the number itself.


The Family Section of the Person Pages lists children of the subject person. By default there is a "+" sign after the name of those children who have children of their own. I disliked the appearance of that indicator and wanted to remove it. So I edited the following string:

Strings > People Strings

Children Indicator deleted all text


I like the default place preposition (used in front of place names when none is specified in the Sentence) to be "in" instead of "at." So I edited the following string:

Strings > Place Strings

Default Place Preposition in



These are just a few of the many ways you can customize the terms and phrases used in your site. While each of these examples is specific to my own preferences in how my site should appear, hopefully they offer some suggestions for changes you might want to make in your own site.

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