Citing Sources: Method 1 and Method 2


There are essentially two methods of adding Source Citations:

  • Method 1 ‘source splitters’ mode where each specific document has its own Source record
  • Method 2 ‘source lumpers’ mode where an entire class of documents has one Source record

There is no one Method that should be applied universally to any Project. It is the Source Citation details that determine which Method is most appropriate for each Source Document or Document Class; some will be better suited to Method 1 and others to Method 2; it is common to find both Methods used in a Project.  The most significant consideration is to avoid duplicated Source Citation data in the Project database, but there are other implications of your choice as shown in the table below.

Method 1/Splitter

Method 2/Lumper

Number of Sources Many, so populating fields such as Source Type or Short Title are important aids to finding a source. Fewer.
Source Document Media Attached to Source Record. Source Record Media is usually only shown once in a Report. Attached to Citation, if it’s needed at all. Ideally, Media attached to a Citation will be a unique image, cropped if necessary from a larger image or set of images, to avoid repetition in Reports.
Text from Source Transcript Included in Source Record. This could be a full or partial transcription of the Source. Included in Citation; this will usually be a partial transcription of the Source to minimise repetition.
Number of Citations to each Source Record This is the best method if you expect to have multiple similar Citations to a Source, each with little or no data in the Citation. This is the best method if you expect to have multiple dissimilar Citations to a Source each with a distinct reference (Where Within Source) and unique Text From Source.
Ease of Maintenance Source information only has to be maintained in a single location (the Source Record). If anything needs updating, potentially multiple Citations will have to be edited.
Reporting It is important to ensure multiple Citations for any one reference are identical as far as the details included in a Report are concerned to avoid multiple Ibid. entries in the Sources section. That is easy to achieve with Method 1 because the Citations are mostly empty. It is important to ensure that multiple Citations for any one reference are identical as far as the details included in a Report are concerned to avoid multiple Ibid. entries in the Sources section. That is more of a risk with Method 2 because the Citations hold much of the reference data.
Whichever method is chosen, it is essential to investigate the impact on Reports, Diagrams, Queries, and other features you anticipate using, before committing all Source Citations to that Method.

Note: The worked examples below are based on using ƒh6 or ƒh7 with Generic Sources, but the principles apply to all versions of ƒh and all kinds of Sources.

Worked Example for Method 1

Typically, using Method 1, each Source record will be associated with one specific document such as a Birth, Marriage, or Death Certificate, a Parish Record, or a Census entry. So there may be many more Source records than with Method 2, but that is not a problem for ƒh to manage.

In the Family Historian Sample Project consider the Property Box for Individual Thomas Smith MUNRO [80]. The Census fact dated 7 Apr 1871 cites Source record Census: 1871 Scotland RG99-12345-342 – Munro.  Also his Birth fact, his Name, and his whole record all cite that same Source record. (Note that the Citation fields Where within Source and Text From Source are empty.)

If either highlighted Show Media button is clicked the Source Record Media image can be shown. (Note that there is no Citation Media image.)

Close that window and click the Go To Source Record button to view the Source Record with its Text From Source transcript and Media tab image for the Arthur Munro household.

Click the highlighted Go To Record button with red arrow to select the Source Record in the Records Window. To the right in the Citations column (or the LInks column on the left in ƒh7)  there are 12 Citations identified. Now use View > Record Links to see the four Individuals who cite that Source with multiple Links.  (To see the full details of all 12 Citations use the Where Used Record Links plugin.)

Many types of Source Document similarly have multiple Source Citations. A Birth Certificate will naturally be cited by the person’s Birth event, but also by their Name, and their parents’ Name, Residence and Occupation. A Marriage Certificate will naturally be cited by the couple’s Marriage event, but also by their fathers’ Names and Occupations, and the Names of the Witnesses. Such documents may need a Media image and Text From Source transcript, so Method 1 is most applicable.

Method 1 Conclusion

In the above example the Media image and Text From Source is only held in one record, and all Citations are empty, so there is no duplication of data, and if anything needs updating, it is all in the one Source record.

If Method 2 were used there would be one global Source record for the 1871 Census as a whole, rather than a separate Source record for each household as for the Arthur Munro household above. So the Media image and Text From Source would have to be repeated in all 12 Citations. If anything needs updating then all 12 copies will have to be edited by hand. If those copies are not repeated carefully, then it can lead to multiple Source Citations in Reports.

Some other genealogy products do not follow the GEDCOM Source Citation model as closely as ƒh and only have one copy of each distinct Citation, which avoids the above problem of duplicated data within their database. However, when exported using GEDCOM each distinct Citation must be replicated wherever it applies. Thus when such data is imported into ƒh there may be many Method 2 duplicated Citations with local Media and Where within Source, Text From Source & Note entries.

Method 1 Variants

In the example above the Source Record might be better named Census: 1871 Scotland RG99-12345-342 – Munro, Arthur to differentiate it from other Munro households that might appear on that same Census page. Alternatively, it could use the Schedule number assigned to each household.

However, the Media Record & image for that Census page would not need those suffixes, and can be shared by multiple Source records.

To highlight the household within the Census page, the Media tab Link to Detail button allows a frame to be drawn around their entry, so that ‘cropped’ section appears in Reports.

If the household entry spans adjacent Census pages, then each Media record & image for those pages can be linked to the the Source record Media tab. Alternatively, each Census page can be held as a separate Source record with appropriate adjustments to other fields.

Similar variants may apply to other types of source document such as Passenger Lists, Wills and Probate, Newspaper articles, Military records, etc.

Worked Example for Method 2

Typically, using Method 2, each Source record will be associated with an entire class of documents such as all UK Civil Registration Indices. So there may be fewer Source records than with Method 1.

In the Family Historian Sample Project consider the Property Box for Thomas Smith MUNRO [80]. The 1871 Death fact cites Source Record Statutory Deaths Index Scotland. Nothing else cites that Source for that Where within Source death index reference (Q4 1871 Glasgow 56 ddcd) and no image or transcript is needed.

Click the Go To Source Record button to view the Source Record with its Text From Source field and Media tab both empty.

Method 2 Conclusion

In the above example no new Source Record is needed for each Citation. Just add the existing Source, and enter the Where within Source or other details in the Citation fields.

If Method 1 were used it has the overhead of creating a new Source record for each index reference without any advantages.

Method 2 Variants

It is very easy to add a Media image or Text From Source transcript to such a solitary Citation without duplicating any data.

Last update: 04 Feb 2023