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Tuesday's Tip - Custom Event Sentences (Advanced)

Custom Event Sentences

Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Custom Event Sentences (Advanced)

It would be pretty hard for me to write a step-by-step tutorial for this topic because there are so many different ways you can go with the event definitions. Instead, I have listed some tips that will make the entire process go smoother. So why would you want to edit the default sentences anyway? This is a VERY powerful way to get your reports to read out exactly like you want. The default sentences are pretty generic but you can customize them to make your reports more interesting to read.

There are two ways to get to the Edit screen. The first is to go to View > Master Lists > Event Definition. Highlight the event you want to work with and click Edit over on the right.

Add/Edit an Event Definition screen
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The second way is to access it from an individual's Edit Event screen. This is a bit of a shortcut in that it will bypass the Event Master List and take you directly to the Edit screen for that specific event. Simply click the Edit Event Sentence Definition button.

Edit Event screen
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Now that you know where to find the Edit screen, here are the tips:

The Help File
There is a Help button on each of the edit screens that will take you to the appropriate topic in the Help File. Make sure that you also click the links in each of these articles to access the related topics. The Creating Event Sentences article is the meat and potatoes one but you must read all of the related topics as well.

Backup Your File
Before you get started, backup your file. I would backup your file after each event is customized. You can then go back to a certain restore point if you decide to go in a different direction with your sentences. You can change the names of the backups to reflect where you are in the process.
Trial and Error
Until you get good at this there will be a lot of trial and error involved. You will need to create and preview reports to test your sentences. One way to make your reports load faster is limit them to 2 generations, deselect the Table of Contents, Indexes, and Title Page, and untick every option on every tab EXCEPT the event boxes. Don't forget to click the Event Options button and tick every box there. On the Format tab click the Event Narrative Format button. You will need to run your sentences through different scenarios to make sure they work everywhere. This is easier if you always use the exact same event options but I don't so this is important to me. If you need help with the Report Options you can refer to Legacy 101 - Reports.
Options on the Include tab
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Options on the Format tab
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Consistency is Key
For your sentences to work right you need to be consistent with how you enter your data. You can build in some if-then scenarios which will take into consideration any unavoidable inconsistencies but as a general rule you should be entering each event type in a consistent manner.
Events and Roles
You can customize both Events and Roles using the same "codes." When you customize a role, that customization will be specific to the role that is tied to the event you are working with. This is important to understand if you have the same role name connected to multiple events. For example, you might have the role "Witness" for several different events. Customizing one does not effect the others.  As with events, you can get to the roles in two ways. The first is from the Add/Edit an Event Definition screen. Click the Roles for those Sharing this Event tab, highlight the role you want to edit, and then click the Edit Role button at the bottom.
Edit Role from the Event edit screen
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This will bring you to the Add/Edit Event Role screen which looks very much like the Add/Edit an Event Definition screen.
Add/Edit Event Role screen
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The other way is to access it after you have shared an event with someone and have assigned a roll to them. 
Edit Role Step 1 and 2
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Edit Role Step 3 and 4
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The Reset Button
You will see a Reset button on the Edit screen. If you click that you will see two options. One will reset your sentences back to the Legacy defaults but the other option will allow you to load the sentences from another event. This is a great time saver. Once you get one event just the way you like it, you can use those sentences as a template so that all you have to do is minor tweaking instead of starting from scratch every time. You can of course do this with roles as well.
On the Master Event Definition screen you will see that you can tag events  I like to tag an event when I have finished constructing the sentences for that event so that I can see at a glance which ones have been done. This is just the way I use the Tags. You might already be using them for something else.

Give Yourself a Head Start
It is very likely that there are unused default events on your Master Event Definition List. You don't want to create sentences for events that you don't even use. You can purge these unused events. While on the Master Event Definition List screen, go to Options > Purge Unused. UNcheck the box that says Restore all original Event Types to this list.
Purge Unused Records
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If you don't uncheck this box you will get all of the default events you are trying to purge re-added. You will also get a a second dialog box that says, WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!  Pay attention to this box! You need to click NO here or all of your sentences will be changed back to the default which means all of your hard work will have been for naught (did you backup your file?)  Better yet, if you get this dialog box that means you have made a mistake. You are better off clicking Cancel and starting over. 
Reset Sentences? dialog box
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More "Codes"
In the drop down box you will see most of the codes but this isn't all of them. The rest are in the Help File (you might want to print out the list). 
Some Codes Only Work in Certain Places
For example, you can only use [CoupleNames] in Marriage Events and not in Individual Events. Why? If you were to try and use this code for an individual event Legacy would have no way to know which spouse you mean if the person has been married more than once. 
Font Attributes
The Windows formatting codes work here and the code will be visible so that you know exactly what you have done. Highlight the text you want to give an attribute to and then...
CTRL+B = Bold
CTRL+I= Italics
CTRL+SHIFT++(the plus sign)=Superscript
You can also add the code manually (the text you want formatted goes BETWEEN the two codes)

Bold   «b» «/b»
Italics   «i» «/i»
Underline   «u» «/u»
Superscript   «sup» «/sup»

The Event Override
When you enter an event for someone you will notice that there is an Override tab. You can actually use the codes here but I wouldn't because it is a lot of work for something that will apply just to this one event. The only way it would be worth your while is if you are planning to change some of the details and you want the sentence to update itself. What I do instead is I simply type the sentence exactly the way I want it to read out. The override works well for unusual events that need to be worded in a way that the event definitions won't be able to do.
I already warned you about purging unused events to make sure that you don't accidentally reset everything back to the defaults but there is another place you need to be careful and that is in the List Cleanup (File > File Maintenance > List Cleanup). Make sure that the box next to Event Definitions is NOT checked!
List Cleanup
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The good news is, if you accidentally check this box you will get the WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! just like you did when you purged your unused events. You will want to say NO.
Reset Sentences? dialog box
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Caution #3
If you change languages you will lose your custom sentences. If you need to change languages, please work on a copy of your file (my preference) or backup your file and then restore that backup when you are done. Many of our reports allow you to change the report language without changing the underlying language of Legacy itself.

Language warning
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Fun Bonus Feature!
Unless you are one of those people that REALLY pays attention to the Help File this is a feature that you might miss. You can customize the sample sentences that Legacy displays! Notice that the sample sentence has Seattle as a place name. I am a southern girl so Seattle has to go. If you click the little blue box a simple text file will pop up and you can make edits (for more info, please click the Help button on this screen). 

Bonus feature!
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I only made a simple change to the location for this screenshot but you can completely customize the sentences. You will have to do this for the male individual event, female individual event, and the marriage event (there is a drop down box for these).

Location has been changed
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I hope these tips will help you get started in customizing your event/role sentences without too much fear. Your reports will thank you.


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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