After two years spent studying Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained, our group needed a break. We decided that there is no better way to discover all that The Master Genealogist (TMG) can do than to explore its powerful custom report writer. If you would like to participate in the Tri-Valley TMG User Group's adventures as we examine the best ways to input data to make full use of TMG's wide range of reporting possibilities, please feel free to comment and share your ideas.

The Tri-Valley TMG User Group is associated with the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society (L-AGS), and we meet in Pleasanton, California. Information on our meetings - location, date, time, and topic - is always available on the home page of the L-AGS web site. Our three-hour meetings are actually hands-on workshops in which up to fifteen computers are connected to a digital projector allowing customized personal assistance to attendees. In the past, the group has systematically studied Lee Hoffman's Getting the Most out of The Master Genealogist, Terry Reigel's A Primer for The Master Genealogist, and Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.

For further details on the reports we create, please visit our website. The section dealing with TMG reports begins at the page, "Exploring TMG's Report Menu."

Start following our new blog, "The Continuing Adventures of the TV-TMG User Group." This will detail our 2014 project.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Creating Holiday Calendars: Part Three

The third method makes heavy use of Excel and Word and the calendar is not created automatically. I was able to create the basic calendar pages, start to finish, in less than an hour. Adding pictures, however, took me forever! I scanned some new pictures and went through all my files picking and choosing large pictures for each month and for the individual blank days. Regardless of the method used to create a calendar, choosing and editing pictures will always take a lot of time. Here are the example pages. I have not included the large picture pages with these examples.
The first phase in this creating this calendar is creating a list of all the events you want to include. Although this example includes only births and marriages, one could include any TMG event; for example, imagine a calendar for your military historian that includes dates of enlistment for all the military servicemen and women in your TMG database. The names could even be color-coded to indicate the war in which each one served.
  • Select the people to include by running a "List of People" report and changing the Temporary flag in the Secondary Output tab.
  • Run a "List of Events" report that includes all the events you want in your calendar. The filter is shown here:

  • This list is saved to an Excel file. The file will be sorted first by month and then by day to allow easy data copy-and-paste to a calendar. Columns will include the individual's name, tag label, and year of the event. Optionally, include flag values to allow easy color-coding; for example, enter maternal ancestors in one color and paternal ancestors in another. Here are the Output Columns used in my calendar.
  • Now comes the fun part. Warning: If you are not familiar with Excel or other spreadsheet programs, you may want to skip this method entirely and opt for calendar creating methods one or two.
    • Once you have your Excel file, delete any events that don't include months. If you choose, you could add these to a page at the end of the calendar, but if you don't know the month, you don't want to include these events in the calendar pages.
    • Add an additional sort value to your file. Sort first by month in ascending order, then by day in ascending order, and then by year in descending order. This lists events first by month, then by day within month, and finally by event within day, most recent one first.
    • Concatenate your column values to create event statements. You will need to create separate statements for each Tag Label, but this is easily done. First, filter the Tag Label column for one event type. Next, create your concatenation formula in the next available column. Finally, copy the formula down to the last row. Repeat for each event type included in the report.
    • The concatenation formulas used in the example calendar are shown here. Remember that the ampersand (&) connects cell values to other cell values and to text. All text, letters, spaces, symbols, are surrounded by quotes.

    • Although it looks like these statements could be copied and pasted to a calendar, this column actually contains formulas, not values. Highlight this formula column and copy it (Ctrl-C). Next, highlight the adjacent blank column, and follow this menu: Edit > Paste Special > Values > Okay. Voila! This column contains statements that can be pasted to your calendar.
  • Microsoft Word 2000 and 2003 come with a Calendar Wizard. If you have Word 2007 or 2010, you can download the Calendar Wizard from the Microsoft website. There are three templates to choose from, and all would work for an ancestor event calendar. My example calendar uses the "Boxes & borders" template, but I reformatted several aspects. Word templates are very easy to reformat. You can change font styles, sizes and colors; change line colors, change backgrounds.
  • Once you have your calendar template, return to your Excel file. You're going to format the text in that final column. Set the font you like in a size between 8 and 10 points, preferably the larger. Choose a color you like. Set the column width to fit the calendar box width. My calendar used a column width of 17.71, Monotype Corsiva font, 10 point, red. Now format the cells alignment to allow text wrapping.
  • Highlight each day's events, copy (Ctrl-C), and then paste into the appropriate day block on your calendar (Ctrl-V). Repeat to the end of the year. Note that the blocks resize to include all the events.
  • Events with a known month but an unknown day can be added to a blank block in the month.
  • Add a small picture to one blank block in each month.
  • Add symbols for holidays, if you choose.
This method is definitely not the easiest, but it does allow the most options. If you want to spend some money, the program WinCalendar supposedly allows importing of events from Excel and CSV files. The version that does that, though, costs $99, and I'm too cheap to spend that much just to test a program. This would be the ideal combination, though: TMG's flexible "List of Events" report to an Excel file that can be imported into a powerful calendar creator program.

I've now created calendars for my nephew and for my daughter. Next on my list is a tombstone-themed calendar for my son, who shares my fondness for cemeteries.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


  1. This was a great meeting. We talked of the different types of themes you could have for calendars: military info, tombstones (as Sue mentioned), family photos of individuals with their recipes, traditions, etc. Now that we have created a variety of TMG templates, it is fun finding intersting ways to create projects and reports using the TMG data output! --Kay

  2. In addition to the version with ancestral homes for my daughter, I did one for my son with a military service theme. The calendar included dates of enlistment, as well as births and marriages. The month photographs included documents, tombstones, uniformed photographs, medals, shoulder patches, etc., as appropriate. The calendar included 2 WWII vets, 2 WWI vets, 3 Civil War vets, 2 War of 1812 vets, and 3 Revolutionary War vets. My son will actually take the time to read the documents, so he should have fun. I've decided that next year's calendar will be recipes. This meeting was definitely a good idea!