When you begin using FamilySearch.org's Family Tree program, except for a link to the Get Help menu in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, there are no evident rules or other guidelines for using the program. The very first time you log into the program, you may get a video orientation about the use, but unfortunately no guidance about how to enter information into the Family Tree. In fact the Getting Started video tells you, you do not have to worry about those "pesky pedigree charts." It also says to "look for the green arrows." It looks like they are still stuck in the New.FamilySearch.org mode of looking at the data.
The guide book called, Using the FamilySearch Family Tree: A Reference Guide is dated back on 18 October 2013 and there is no direct link to the Guide available in the Get Help menu. A careful reading of the Guide will reveal a few general guidelines for entering information into the program. But I thought it would be a good idea to summarize the specific provisions. Here is a list of some of the information I found with a page number where the specific provision is located in the Guide beginning at page 44.
- To enter names, enter the person's main name, i.e. the complete name he or she was given at birth.
- Enter nicknames into the Alternative Names section of the Details page.
- All females should be entered with her maiden name, if available.
- It is optional to enter suffixes such as Jr., Sr. or other words that appear after a name, but do not include them in the main name fields.
- If you do not know a mother’s or wife’s name, enter the husband’s last name. Do not enter a first name. Do not enter “Miss” or “Mrs” in any of the name fields.
- For a husband with an unknown name or a child who died without receiving aname, enter only the father’s last name. Do not enter a first name. Do not enter Mr., Miss, son, or daughter. Be sure that the gender is correctly entered as male or female if you know it.
- Do not put any other words, other than the names, in the name fields.
- Place names should be entered in order from the smallest jurisdiction to the largest, i.e. city or town, county, state, United States.
- All place names should be entered as they existed at the time of the event recorded. This is contrary to the Guide that says to use the standardized place even if the system does not have a standardized place-name for the place that you enter. Generally accepting genealogical practice requires the place name as it was at the time of the event. Place names should be entered, if possible, in the language of the place where the event occurred.
- If there is a matching standardized place name, use the standard name. If the name of the place has changed, do not use the standardized place name, use the name of the place at the time of the event.
- Dates should be recorded as day, month spelled out completely, year.
- All dates should be standardized if known.
- Do not use any abbreviations for any entered information.
- When entering notes or sources, use complete sentences so that future researchers can understand what you are saying.
Standardized dates and places are designed to help the find feature of the program. They are not necessarily designed to preserve the correct place names as they appear in the historical record. The list of standardized places is being augmented over time, where possible and when it will not change the original place name, you should use the standardized place names.