GEDCOM (GED for short) is a standard file format used in exchanging information among the different genealogy programs. The acronym GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications and this file type is used to transfer history information into, and out of, genealogy programs supporting these files. With the use of GEDs a great deal of typing can obviously be avoided.

The GEDCOM file is a computer file that permits one type of software program to read genealogical records created in another. This exchange type of file was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to enable researchers with different brands of genealogy software and computer platforms to share family information. A GEDCOM file is recognized by the file name ending GED (i.e. My Family File.GED).

Each genealogy program generally has a good “Help” section on exporting and importing these GED files. There will be times when only a portion of a family file needs to be created to send to another family researcher.This occurs when prior history will be redundant and when data on living individuals or information from the 1920s or 30s forward are best kept at home.

The following is a straight-forward method using Family Tree Maker to create a custom family group. Don’t forget that it is sound practice to back up your master family file prior to performing any type of maintenance. Share with us how it is done in other genealogy programs by writing to Jennifer Braswell.

Using FTM to generate a custom group of individuals:

  1. To generate a selected group start on the Family Page of the person to head the group. Create an Outline Descendant tree then select the 1-2-3 icon option and limit the number of generations desired. By controlling the number of generations the report may be curtailed at any time period desired, thus not exposing personal information on grandparents, parents or living individuals.
  2. Export the selected group to a new file by clicking File and select Copy/Export Indiv- iduals in Outline Descendant tree.
  3. In the Copy/Export Individuals dialog box that appears, click the Save as type drop down arrow and select GEDCOM.
  4. Type a name for your new file in the File name field. [The file name can be any valid Windows file name, up to 255 characters.]
  5. In the Save in field select the drive and folder where you want Family Tree Maker to create the new file.
  6. Click Save after you’ve made the above three selections. A pop-up screen, Export to GEDCOM, appears; the Destination mode should be FTW, the GEDCOM box should read Version 5.5, and the Character set should be ANSI. The two remaining boxes should be as follows: the Indent Records box should be clear and the Abbreviated tags box should be checked. Finally click OK and Family Tree Maker creates a GEDCOM of the selected group. Your original Family File has not changed in any way.