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Legacy 101 - Entering Locations

When you begin entering data you need to make some decisions. All of these decisions have to do with standardization and consistency. In genealogy there are some recognized standards and Legacy helps you maintain these standards through the Potential Problems Report. We will be discussing the Potential Problems Report in depth in a future article. Today we are going to talk specifically about locations because that seems to be what gives Legacy users the most trouble.

The standard for the United States is four places with a comma between each part.

Town, County, State, Country


Though it is non standard, you might prefer to add the word "County" to the county part of the location to make it more clear and Legacy has no problem with you doing that. You might even want to leave off the country if all of your locations are within the same country. Legacy has a handy option to add or subtract USA or United States globally to your locations via the Options menu on the Master Location List (View > Master Lists > Locations > Options > Expand/Contract Location Parts). You can switch back and forth depending on what you are needing at the time.  This is an Intermediate skill so I wouldn't worry about this feature just yet. 


If you do use the word "County" you want to make sure that you are consistent. You don't want half of your locations to have the word county and half that don't. You also don't want half of your locations to have the country name and half that don't. The more consistently you enter your data the less chance you will make an error or create duplicates. Also, if you ever send your data to another researcher or upload your data to one of the "tree" sites other researchers will judge your work by how carefully you have entered your data. I personally prefer to keep my locations 100% standard so that I don't have any issues.

If you are missing one or more parts of a location you use commas as place holders so that you still have four parts and each part that you do have is still in the correct field.  This will be important when you are sorting your locations on the Master Location List.

 Commas as place holders

(click image to enlarge)

Here are some things to consider. 

  • You always want to enter the location as it was at the time of the event. If the current location is different you can record that in the Location Notes (you will see this on the Master Location List) or you can use THIS METHOD
  • In addition to Notes you can also add Media to locations
  • If you are interfacing with FamilySearch you need to be aware that they have a standard way of entering locations
  • For each location you enter you can enter a "short location" so that you can keep your locations standard but have a shortened location that you can use in reports (You will see this field when you are on the Master Location List).  This is VERY handy!
  • You need to come up with a consistent way to enter the odd ball locations such as independent cities that don't have a county and pre 1776 locations
  • If you have other countries in your file you need to decide how many places each of those countries needs.  For example, I have a lot of German locations and all of them have three places; town, state, county. I use six places for locations in France. As long as you are consistent from country to country your Master Location List will sort correctly

 I need to mention addresses. Addresses and locations are two different things. Addresses are entered in the Address field (house icon).



Here is another example.



Notice that you can add media and notes to an address just like you can to a location. If you want to add an address to a vital event (birth, baptism, death, burial) click the plus + sign to the right of the location. 



I will tell you that there are some Legacy users that prefer to put both the address and location in the location field.  This isn't the standard but you can of course do what works best for you. The only thing I will say is BE CONSISTENT no matter how you decide to do your locations. If you choose to put the address and the location in the same field I suggestion that when you are on the Master Location List that you sort from right to left instead of left to right.  This will help your list sort properly.

The below listed resources are excellent. Even though they are both based on previous versions of Legacy the principles hold true.


Rasmussen, Geoff. "Improving Your Use of New FamilySearch: Data Cleanup Strategies." Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Surprise, Ariz.: Millennia, 2011.

Slawson, Mary H. Getting It Right, The Definitive Guide to Recording Family History Accurately. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Malloy Lithographing Incorporated, 2002.


View a Compilation of all Legacy 101 articles


Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips check out the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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This is very helpful thank you. What is the correct way to enter parishes in the UK that are part of a larger city e.g. St Cuthberts in Edinburgh? Do we enter just Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland in the location or as FamilySearch do Scotland, Midlothian, St. Cuthbert's?

I found this article helpful, but I do have one question. Some locations are more exact than just the town (most often this happens when I name the exact cemetery they were buried in), so how would I enter these locations and get them to sort correctly?

Thank you so much, a refresher course never hurts no mater how long you have been researching.

The name of the cemetery is not part of the location, it is part of the address. You can add the name of the cemetery and it's physical address in the Address field. Click the + sign to the right of the burial location field and choose Burial Address.


You can create a cemetery event and record the specifics there

Having said that, there are people that prefer to put everything in the Location field even though that isn't considered standard. If you want to do this, you will need to sort your locations from right to left (this option is on the Sort menu on the Master Location List)

Before making a decision, do it all three way and see how you like how it prints in reports. No matter what you decide, make sure that you are consistent.

The 4 fields is for US locations. When you are dealing with other countries there might be a different number that is more appropriate. For example, I use three places for Germany but six for France. The trick is using the same number of places PER COUNTRY so that your Master Location List will sort properly.

Michele, I feel my knuckles wrapped! I want to tidy up my cemeteries presently entered as locations,e.g Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North, New Zealand and convert it to Terrace End (an actual place)..etc. And then add the Address on the individual's Cemetery notes as Terrace End Cemetery, street postcode etc.
How can I do this easily? My first effort has been to select all those with the location through search, change that detail and then go one by one to alter the address entry.
I think this will apply to other locations that are really addresses, but not so many as, say, cemeteries.

I am always debating how to do this

do you put churches in locations of the address??

Unfortunately there is no easy or shortcut way to do this. I like to work off of the Master Location List because you can tag each location as you are done with it so that you can keep tabs on what you still need to do. You can easily see who all is using each location.

Before you make a massive change like this, I would evaluate how you want things to read out in reports. You CAN leave your addresses in the location field even though it isn't considered standard. If you do this, you will need to sort the Master Location List from Right to Left (on the SORT menu) so that your locations will group in such a way that you can find stuff.

Now back to reports. I would change only location and then Preview a report. Need need to see the difference between how it will print if you put everything in the location field vs. how it will print if you put the address in the address field and then tell Legacy to print the addresses along with the locations. I would base my decision on this.

One place you will have a minor inconvenience is if you sync to FamilySearch because FamilySearch will want you to change your location to the Standard. You will get a popup with a list of possible locations for you to choose.

Please read the comments I made to Jessie and Bryan. Even though the Standard is to only put a true location in the location field (everything else goes in the address field) there are many researchers that prefer not to do this. This is totally up to the user. As long as they know what the standard is and have chosen not to go that route that is perfectly fine. I feel my role is to teach what the standards are so that you can make an informed decision on how you want to record your data.

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