Working with Facts for New Users

  • Skill Level: New User
  • FH versions: V4, V5, and V6
  • In Topics: Facts FAQS 


Facts are one of the key concepts at the heart of Family Historian; they are how you record the things that happened to, or described, each ancestor (Individual).

Understanding how to work with Facts within ƒh is fundamental to recording your Family History effectively. If you’re new to ƒh and/or Genealogy, you may wish to work through our Getting Starting guide first. And you should also review the ƒh Help file sections on Property Box: Facts Tab and Facts (Events and Attributes). And then take time to read this article end to end, to get a good foundation on working with facts.

There are various types of Facts: Individual, Family, Timeline, and Witness Facts. We’ll start by discussing some general matters, move on to the simplest Fact types (Family and Individual) which exist in all versions of ƒh, and then move on to Timeline Facts, which were introduced in Version 6. Witness Facts (also introduced in Version 6) are covered in another article.

Where Do You Work with Facts?

The Fact tab
The Facts Tab

When you’re working with facts, you’ll be working in the Property Box for an Individual.

To get there:

    1. Select an Individual (in the Focus Window, in the Records Window or in a Diagram Window).
    2. Right-click and choose Properties.

You can configure ƒh to also open the Property Box when you double-click on a selected Individual: Go to Tools > Preferences… and check what the settings are for Double Click Action for the Focus Window , and also Double Click on record in Record List for the Records Window.

Facts are entered and edited either on the Main Tab or the Facts Tab.

We recommend using the Facts Tab; there are more and better facilities than on the Main Tab.There are important details you cannot add on the Main Tab, and you cannot see all a Individual’s Facts in relationship to each other.

The Main Tab does allow you to quickly and simply view and record Birth, Death, Marriage, with dates and places; it can also be customised to show other Facts.

What are Events and Attributes?

“Facts” is a shorthand for two things called Events and Attributes.

Broadly speaking, Events are things that happened to an Individual, such as:

  • Birth
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Burial
  • (Was enumerated in a) Census

and Attributes are things that described them, such as:

  • Physical Description
  • Occupation
  • Religion

In most respects, there are no differences between working with Events and working with Attributes; where there are, this article will point them out.

Individual and Family Facts

What Makes Up an Individual or Family Fact?

A Fact has the following basic components. Some of these (the Detail Fields) you’ll define when you add a Fact; others are pre-defined but it is still useful for you to know about them at this stage. (There are more elements than these, but these are the essentials.)

Fact Name This identifies the fact e.g. Birth, Death, Adoption, Occupation — you’ll use this when you’re adding a Fact.
Fact Type Event or Attribute
Record Type Individual or Family

Some Facts apply to both parents in a Family (e.g. Marriage or Divorce) so using a Family Fact allows you to enter the details only once. Most Facts, however, are Individual Facts and apply to a single individual. (Witness Facts are a bit different, but we’ll set those aside for now).

Note: Do not make the mistake of thinking that a Family Fact applies to all family members; it only applies to the parents. (This means that we do not recommend using the Family Census event as it saves very little data entry and creates complications in other functionality).

In the Facts tab, blue bullets are used for Individual Facts and red bullets for Family Facts.

Fact Set A Fact Set is a collection of Facts, typically grouped according to how they became available to you:

  • ƒh comes with a Standard Fact Set (that contains all the Facts defined by GEDCOM).
  • ƒh version 6.1 also introduced an Extended Fact Set, to provide support for importing data from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry. These Fact Types are hidden by default but you can configure some or all of them to be shown.
  • You also can define your own Facts but you should probably start by importing Fact Sets defined by others.
  • If you define your own, you will usually add them to the Custom Fact Set; if you import a Fact Set it will usually come with its own Fact Set name, such as DNA or Jewish. When selecting a Fact in the Fact Types window, you can filter by Fact Set name, as well as by Fact and Record Type; this is useful if you have a large amount of Fact Types to search through.
Detail Fields Date: the date (or date range) on which or during which an event happened or an attribute applied. See Entering Dates for details on how to do this.

Age: the age of the Individual at the relevant date. See Entering Ages for details on how to do this.

Place and Address: Where a Fact took place. See Working with Places and Addresses for New Users. Not all Facts have a place associated with them; for example Physical Appearance isn’t something that applied at a single location.

Value: The Value field only applies to Attributes, and contains e.g. Sous Chef for Occupation, or Red Haired for Physical Appearance.  A notable exception is the Residence Attribute that does not have a Value, because the Place and Address fields specify the necessary detail.

Note: All Facts can have a Fact Note, which you can use as you choose.

Adding a Fact

On the Facts Tab, use the Add Fact  button to see a menu (the Fast-Add Menu) where you can quickly select one of the most commonly-used Facts, or choose More Fact Types… to open the Fact Types window and select from all available Facts. (The Fact Types menu allows you to manage how individual Facts are defined and behave, but it isn’t essential to make any changes.)

Add the Fact you Need and fill in the Detail Fields. Note: As you select or hover over one of the Detail Fields, an Entry Assistant button will become visible. You can type directly into a field, or use the Entry Assistant button to guide you.

Genealogy without Sources is Mythology.

If you go looking, you’ll find this quote all over the ‘Net. What it means in practice is that, if you don’t record (‘cite’) the source from which you derived the information that you use to create a Fact, you’re building your Family History on sand.

For every Fact you record, you should cite the Sources that led you to record that Fact. Ideally, you will always create a Source Record first, and then create or update facts using the information in that Source(source-driven data entry).

It might seem like an irrelevant nicety, but if you do not cite your Sources, you will find yourself wondering in future why you believed something to be true, especially if you find something that contradicts what you previously believed and need to double check. And, if you share your research, citing your Sources allows others to follow what you did and make their own mind up about whether you reached the right conclusion. You will be wrong, sometimes spectacularly. And if you are, you may want other people to point it out!

Sources and citing them is a big subject so we have another article on Working with Sources for New Users.

Editing a Fact

You edit a fact in the Facts Tab of the Property Window. Navigate to the relevant Fact and edit the Detail Fields. Remember to cite your new Source(s).

Deleting a Fact

You delete a fact in the Facts Tab of the Property Window. Navigate to the relevant Fact and either hit the X  button or use the DEL key on your keyboard. You will get a prompt to check that you really intend to delete the Fact.

If you go ahead and then change your mind quickly, Edit > Undo will undo the deletion (but not after you’ve exited the programme)

Be aware: Deleting a Fact will not delete the Sources you cited in support of it — it just deletes the link; you might have cited the same Source in support of other Facts.

Timeline Facts (V6 and later)

Timeline Facts are Facts that you have already entered for close relatives of an Individual. You can optionally include these in an Individual’s list of facts (on the FactsTab), distinguished from other Facts by a light grey background, to give a complete view of the important events that happened in a person’s life.

To toggle the display of Timeline Facts, click on the Show Timeline Facts button on the Facts Tab Toolbar (below the list of Facts).

Select Timeline Facts

To configure what Timeline Facts are displayed, click on the Menu button on the Facts Tab Toolbar and select Timeline Facts…

You can choose which Event Types and which Relatives to include in the display.

Be aware: if you click on a Timeline Fact you will start viewing the Facts for the relative concerned! The Back Button at the top of the Facts Tab takes you back to the original individual.

 Some Simple Customisations

There are some simple things you can do to make it easier to work with Facts in a way that suits you, including:

  • Showing additional Facts on the Main Tab of the Property Box.
  • Adding or removing a fact from the Fast-Add Menu.
  • Hiding Facts in the Fact Types window.
  • Importing a custom Fact Set, and removing it if you decided not to use it.

See Some Simple Customisations for Working with Facts.


Last update: 28 Nov 2020