Terry's TMG Tips

Accommodating Copies of Sources

This page revised 16 Mar 2006

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

This article describes how to modify standard source types to better accommodate cases when we have a copy or image of a source at hand, rather than an original document.

This is part of a series of articles on minor changes all users might want to make to the standard Source Types provided with TMG. These changes are designed to enhance the operation of the default Source Category for new Projects, those drawn from Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence!: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian.

If you want to try these suggested modifications and are not familiar with editing the Output Templates of Source Types, you may find my article on Working with Source Templates helpful.

The Issue

Many times we consult copies of sources, whether they be physical photocopies or images on microfilm or online, rather than the original record. Photocopies may come from another researcher, or directly from the library or archive holding the original record. Microfilm may come from the Family History Library or other institutions, while online images are found both on commercial websites and on those of libraries and archives. There are a number of examples of sources viewed on microfilm among the examples in Ms Mills' book.

But to me the most telling example she provides is for FHL Microcopies, on page 83. For them she recommends "Cite published source fully, according to type, then add: micro [film/fiche] no. [000,000], frame [000], Family History Library [FHL], Salt Lake City, Utah." I read this as an example applicable to any copy of an original source. I've even have applied it to a full transcription of a source, though others may disagree with this usage, but stop short of using it for extract or other abbreviated rendering of a source.

I understand that Ms Mills has made somewhat different suggestions in her recently released "QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources," especially for images found online. However I think she had it right the first time, so continue to follow the guidance in Evidence!.

The Solution

To apply this approach one might create a custom Source Type for each such source encountered. But since it might apply to most any sort of source, it seems to me easier to simply enter the reference to the microfilm, photocopy, or whatever to the Comments field (on the Supplemental tab of the Source Definition screen), then add the [COMMENTS] source element to the output template if it is not already present. Here's how you would modify the standard Source Types to do that:

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Source Types to open the Source Types list.
  2. Select the Source Type you want to modify, and click the Edit button.
  3. In the output template field for the Full Footnote, determine where you would like to have the film note appear, and insert the term:


For example, here is the standard Full Footnote template for the "Probate File" Source Type (after removing the "Hereinafter..." phrase as described in my Removing "Hereinafter cited as..." article):


I would add the reference to the Comments field just before the reference to the Citation Detail, like this:


Include the conditional brackets, so that if there is no entry in the Comments field this term is ignored, and include a comma and space before the Source Element itself to set it off from the preceding term.

  1. Click the OK button to save your changes.
The Mills examples are inconsistent as to whether the reference to the microfilm should appear only in the full footnote as I have suggested above, or also in the short footnote and/or the bibliography entry. See her examples for Ship Passenger List (Filmed), page 97; Tax Roll (Filmed, limited distribution), page 98, and Vital Record (Filmed), page 99, for examples of all three usages. I think including it in only the Full Footnote is adequate, but if you prefer to have it appear in the other entries, make the same modification to the

After entering comments in one of your sources that uses the Source Type you just modified, you may want to go to the Output Template tab and click the Preview button to check your work. Or run a report that uses this source and check your work that way.

If you want to make the same change on other Source Types you use, repeat the above steps for each of them.

The steps above change the default Template for the Source Type, and thus are effective for all Sources you have entered in the past, or enter in the future, using this Source Type. But there is one important exception. If you have modified the Output Template of a Source of this type "locally," that is, in the Source Definition screen for that Source, it will not be changed by editing the Source Type – it no longer uses the default Template. You will need to make the same edit for those Sources individually if you want to change them.


Once you have modified the Source Type, you then simply add text in the Comments field (Supplemental tab of the Source Definition screen) to record the fact that you saw a copy instead of the original source. For example I might enter the following from a document seen on a FHL microfilm:

seen on Family History Library microfilm no. 2709, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

In the case of a manuscript, for which a repository would be entered, I might enter:

photocopies obtained from the Library Feb 2004

In the case of a photocopy provided by a correspondent, I might enter:

photocopy provided by Mary Jones by e-mail "The Mims Line" 3 Jul 1998, saying she obtained it at the archives

Note that in these last two cases I note that not only did I see a copy rather than the original, but also provide some provenance for the copy so the reader can determine whether he or she judges the copy to be authentic.

Other Topics in This Series

Removing "Hereinafter cited as..." – removing that unneeded phrase

Adding Given Names to Short Footnotes – when you have multiple Sources authored by poeple with the same surname

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