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Source Templates

GED-GEN supports source citation templates produced by some genealogy software programs. Since the GEDCOM 5.5.1 Standard does not specify source templates, they are non-standard and they are therefore program-specific.

Normally, each source record in your GEDCOM file refers to a single source, and it has a specific title that does not change. Citations that refer to that source all use the same source title. Thus many citations can reference one source. For example, a newspaper is cited by title and issue date:

Daily News. Washington, DC. 25 January 1977.

With templates, the source title may contain variable fields. A field can be replaced with different information for different citations. Thus many citations can reference many variations of a given source. For example, rather than a newspaper issue date, a variable date field is specified:

Daily News. Washington, DC. [Date].

Then some citations might refer to the 25 January 1977 issue, while others might refer to the 15 March 1995 issue. These would use the same source, but result in different dates:

Daily News. Washington, DC. 25 January 1977.
Daily News. Washington, DC. 15 March 1995.

To use templates, your genealogy software program must include source templates when you export a GEDCOM file. GED-GEN must also support the specific, proprietary way in which your genealogy program implements those templates. You can enable GED-GEN to process templates by setting the Special Processing option on the GEDCOM tab under the Program tab. If your genealogy program is not listed there, support for it may be added in the future.


RootsMagic 4 is one genealogy program that implements source templates. If enabled, GED-GEN will process the non-standard GEDCOM tags to generate source citations and bibliography entries.

RootsMagic Users

As this version of GED-GEN was developed, RootsMagic 4 changed the way it exports source templates in a GEDCOM file. Source templates may no longer be exported in your GEDCOM file or the format may have changed. In that case, choose the option for RootsMagic rather than RootsMagic Templates. You can also click Check for Updates at the bottom of the contents panel at left to learn the latest GED-GEN news and errata.

A source record might appear as follows in your GEDCOM file. GED-GEN processes the title (TITL) and bibliography title (_BIBL) tags.

0 @S3992@ SOUR
1 ABBR Newspaper, Daily News, Washington, DC
1 TITL [ItemID], <i>Daily News</i>, Washington, DC,
2 CONC [Date], [Details]. [Annotation].
1 _SUBQ <iDaily News</i>, [Date].
1 _BIBL <i>Daily News.</i> Washington, DC, [Date].

A citation that refers to the above source record might appear as follows. GED-GEN processes the template (_TMPLT), FIELD, NAME and VALUE tags to determine values to substitute within the source template. For example the [ItemID] field in the template will be replaced by John Doe. Note the PAGE tag is ignored since it duplicates the values to be substituted.

2 SOUR @S3992@
3 REFN 000651
3 PAGE John Doe; 25 January 1977; Page 2, Column 2
5 VALUE John Doe
5 NAME Date
5 VALUE 25 January 1977
5 NAME Details
5 VALUE Page 2, Column 2
5 NAME Annotation
3 QUAY 2

On the family group sheet, the resulting footnote for this citation would be:

14. John Doe, Daily News, Washington, DC, 25 January 1977, Page 2, Column 2. [86].
    Quality: 2.

The bibliography entry would be:

86. Daily News. Washington, DC, 25 January 1977.

Where possible, GED-GEN combines bibliography entries to eliminate duplicate information. For example when two citations reference different issues, the bibliography entry would be:

86. Daily News. Washington, DC, 25 January 1977; 15 March 1995.

Otherwise, a bibliography entry may have multiple titles for one source:

86. "House Approves Measure." Daily News. Washington, DC, 25 January 1977.
    "Signs of the Times." Daily News. Washington, DC, 15 March 1995.


Variable fields in the template that do not have associated replacement text are removed. This makes the title more readable to your visitors. For example, they will not see [ItemID] in the title if you have not specified an ItemID. Generally this occurs when you do not specify the value of a template field in your genealogy program.

If a template includes '[' or ']', but they are not escaped with slashes ('/[' and '/]'), then the text is interpreted as a field. Since there are no replacement values, the text is removed and you may see an incomplete sentence. Be sure to use escape characters (slashes) if you want to include '[' and ']' as part of the title.


If you see variable fields like [ItemID] in a bibliography entry, it means that particular source was not referenced in your family data. There are no citations that refer to that source and therefore no fields that provide values to substitute for these fields. You should either remove the unreferenced source within your genealogy software program, or add a citation to it, and re-export a GEDCOM file.