Novice User Guide

From webtrees
Jump to: navigation, search

This Novice User Guide is one of a series of webtrees guides which are being developed to assist in the installation, administration and use of webtrees.

The purpose of this guide is to assist a new novice webtrees user to navigate the genealogical information presented by this software program, to add information and to edit the existing information. It is not comprehensive; the Users Guide provides more information on all of these functions.

This guide was written assuming webtrees has been properly installed, properly configured and already has at least one individual listed in the database. It is written for a user who has little or no knowledge of genealogy nor webtrees, but who has an understanding of operating a computer using an Internet web browser.

Implementations of webtrees can vary, depending upon how the administrator has configured the installation. The differences can be

  • some individuals, events or facts might not be visible
  • some user selections might not be available and/or
  • some user changes might have to be "approved" or "accepted" by a family tree manager or site administrator.

Therefore, the information in this guide might not be accurate for all webtrees implementations.

Throughout any webtrees installation there are Help icons for most features. These provide brief explanations of what things are, or how to use them. In addition the Help menu item has broader descriptions for entire "pages". For the novice user, the next source of assistance should be the webtrees administrator for their site. On some sites the administrator will also have included a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that explain the specific requirements of that installation. As a next step, this Wiki site, plus the forums provide a wealth of support over and above what may be learned from this guide.

Fundmental Concepts

What webtrees does

webtrees documents people's genealogy.

The Macquarie Dictionary defines genealogy as "an account of the descent of a person or family through an ancestral line".

Some of the information on individuals which can be recorded in webtrees are:

  • their birth
  • their marriage(s)
  • their divorce(s)
  • their death
  • other events in their lives
  • their children
  • their parents
  • facts about them and
  • multimedia files about them.

A database of genealogical information of people related to each other is sometimes called a "family tree", though it is probably more properly called a "family web".

All of the information for a single family tree is stored in a single webtrees database on a single computer. This webtrees database is accessed via an Internet web browser, such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera or Internet Explorer.

As designed, access is collaborative, allowing several people to be looking at or adding to the same webtrees database from anywhere in the world, at the same time.


The defined words are in bold font.

The term individual is used in webtrees menus to describe a person.

Understanding families

A family (record/unit) is automatically created when

  • a new spouse is attached to an individual
  • the first parent is attached to an individual or
  • the first child is added to a single parent.

So, a webtrees family is a combination of

  • at least one parent and at least one child or
  • two individuals in a relationship, whether or not they were married or even of the opposite sex.

As a result of this, a person who has extended their relationships by creating their own family (such as being married and/or having children) is usually in at least two families:

  • their immediate family, where they are a spouse, partner and/or parent and
  • the family where they are a child.

When a parent-child relationship is created, the way the child is related to the parent is called their pedigree. The four types of pedigrees supported by webtrees are

  • birth
  • adopted
  • foster and
  • sealing, which is primarily used within the Morman church.

An individual can be

  • a child in one family due to a "birth" pedigree in that family; recording a child's pedigree is not required and the 'birth' pedigree is assumed where not a pedigree is not specified.
  • a child in a second family due to an "adopted" pedigree in that family
  • a child in a second family due to an additional marriage by one or more of their parents (step-families), but there is no pedigree terminology for these related family records, and
  • in one or more "immediate families" due to having multiple partner relationships through their life.

Therefore, a single individual can be a member of several families.

Other definitions

A source is the original material where information was obtained. Some examples are: a legal document, a photo, a story told by a family member, an email or a bible.

A citation is the location in the source where the cited information can be found. An example might be entry 6W-804 of a genealogical book or a page number or some other reference number.

An event is something which happens at a specific time, e.g. birth, marriage, divorce, death.

A fact is something which does not have a specific date associated with it, e.g. an address, religion, nationality.

A multimedia reference can be almost anything, e.g. a photo, an image or PDF of a birth certificate, an audio file or an audiovisual file.

A highlighted image is the one which is shown next to an individual's name in many of the webtrees charts and screens.

GEDCOM is a type of computer file widely-used for uniformly structuring genealogical information for use on computer systems, developed by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church). Sometimes a single family tree database is (incorrectly) called a "GEDCOM".

The definitions of family relationship terms vary between cultures. So, if you are reading or altering a webtrees database which documents a family of another culture than your own, you might find that their definitions of "father", "mother", "brother", "sister", "cousin" and others might vary from your definitions.

Adding an individual

Not all methods of adding an individual are stated here.

Step A - Find the relevant database

A webtrees installation can have have many family trees. First, we must make sure we are using the correct family tree. Hover your mouse pointer over the "Home page" icon on the left side of the page. If there is more than one family tree on this webtrees installation, they will be listed on a drop-down menu. Select the appropriate family tree using your mouse. If no list comes up, there is only one family tree installed and no selection is necessary.

Step B - Find a close relative

A webtrees administrator is able to limit the extent of access to the information displayed in each family tree. They are likely to permit more access to someone who is logged in (a site member) than someone who may only be visiting or has not logged in. If you are not already a member and can not find an individual in the database, you may either register for membership to this webtrees installation if this option is offered or contact the family tree manager using the contact links in the footer. If you already belong and have logged in and you can still not find someone, or add or edit individuals when found, you may be restricted by privacy rules and will have to inquire of the family tree manager or site administrator.

webtrees permits you to add a new individual by defining that individual's relationship (e.g. parent, sibling, partner or child) to an individual who is already recorded within the database. Before adding someone to the database, you must find a parent, sibling, partner or child of that individual. Do this by using the search dialog box on the right side of the screen above the menu or by using one of the search options on the "Search" menu. When searching, you can use an individual's given name, their surname or both. Alternatively, you can select "Families" or "Individuals" under "Lists" on the menu bar, and browse for a person using their surname. Unlinked persons are usually discouraged because they are technically not part of the family tree being recorded, therefore they may only be added by a family tree manager or administrator.


webtrees search box and menu bar.

Step C - Select the relationship

Click on the "Relatives" tab, which is just below their highlighted image (photo), or alternative icon for their photo. The family record page then displayed will permit you to add to or create family units, parents, partners and children, of that individual. If the individual whose page you are looking at already has a parental or personal family created, you will also be able to add a sibling or child.

To add a parent of the individual displayed:
Click on either the "Add a new father" or "Add a new mother" link below the tabs.

To add a sibling of the individual displayed:
Click on the "Add a brother or sister" link at the bottom of the "Family with parents" section.

To add a child of the individual displayed:
Click on the "Add a son or daughter" link at the bottom of the "Family with (partners name)" section.

To add a partner of the individual displayed:
Click on either the "Add a new wife" or "Add a new husband" link near the bottom of the page.
Don't worry if the individual displayed already has a partner. When adding a new "wife" or "husband", a new family will be created.


Individual Screen, Relatives Tab showing add links

Step D - Complete the dialog box

When you click on any of the links mentioned in Step 1, a dialog box pops up.

It is not necessary to fill in every box, however, in completing the fields you should have already familiarized yourself with the conventions used by the family tree manager. Read the site's FAQs (listed within the HELP drop-down menu at the far right of the header) to see if the manager has established any rules, specified any conventions, or made any suggestions about the format of information you enter. Also, prior to starting data entry, you should navigate the site and observe the fashion in which data is recorded. Yellow-tinged fields are auto-complete data lookup fields and as you begin typing your entry, suggestions culled from data already contained within the family tree will be presented for your selection.

See earlier on this page for the definition of "pedigree". A pedigree of 'birth' is typically presumed where not specified.

When filling in the new individual's surname, look at some other entries in the database to see if that database uses a convention of capitalizing all letters in a person's surname.

At the bottom of the dialog box, you should add your source, and it is possible to add a note, shared note or a multimedia object. See the next section about adding a multimedia object.

Click on the "Save" button at the bottom of the page when complete.

Add multimedia

When adding a fact or event, there is usually an option to add a multimedia object relating to it.

If you wish to attach a multimedia object to a fact or event after it has been added, go to an individual's "Personal facts" tab, then click on the edit icon (which looks like a pen). "Add a new Multimedia object" will usually be one of the options.

When adding an individual, their "highlighted image" (see definition above) can be added.

To make a multimedia object an individual's highlighted image after the individual has been added to the database:
A. locate the multimedia object via "Multimedia" "on the "List" menu.
B. Select "Set link" to link the multimedia object to the individual.
C. Select "Edit Details" to make the multimedia object the individual's highlighted image.
The selection might not take effect until it has been accepted by an administrator.

Add an event or a fact

There are only small differences between how webtrees manages an event and a fact.

Facts and events pertaining to an individual can be added in the "Add new fact" section at the bottom of the left side of the "Personal facts" tab of an individual's page. A source, note, shared note or multimedia object can be added to support the fact or event.

Family facts or events (those relevant to a relationship, e.g. engagement, marriage, divorce annulment) can be entered on a Family page:
A. select the "Relatives" tab on an individual's page.
B. select "View Family" of the relationship which you wish to document.
C. select the fact or event you wish to document in the "Add new fact" section in the "Family Group Information" panel at the bottom right of the page.

Change family members

Family members change1.jpg

Family members change2.jpg

Family members change3.jpg

Family members change4.jpg

This page has not been reviewed since webtrees 1.6.2. It may be out of date.