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Beginning with Reunion

Part 2: Data Entry Details

by Jan McClintock

Updated 2/8/00 by Leister Productions.

Now that you are familiar with Reunion basics, let's talk about details. Here are the topics that will be covered in this article:


ID Numbers




In the Edit Person window, under the Names tab, you enter a name, sex, and User ID number. You might think entering a First Name and Last Name is pretty straightforward, but there might be more to think about here.

First Name: Catherine Anne (Kate)
Last Name: Peterson
Prefix Title:
Suffix Title:
First Name: Malcolm Eric
Last Name: McClintock
Prefix Title: Sir
Suffix Title: of Aughborack

Enter the first name and any middle names in the First Name field. If you don't know the first name, you can leave the field blank or enter a questions mark (?) instead. If you add a Prefix or Suffix Title, it is not shown in a list unless you choose it as one of the pop-up field choices, but it always accompanies the First and Last Names in any report or chart.

These name in a list:

on the family card:

and in a chart:

Sorting Names

The Index and other lists can be sorted by First or Last Name. Names which are non-anglicized, like Grieitje van Sickle (Dutch) and Jean-Paul de Borgomale (French), need special consideration. Europeans usually do not sort names using the prefix words, like "de" and "van." Immigrants to America, however, often either appended the prefix to the surname, or dropped the prefix altogether.

[Don't confuse prefix words like these with the Prefix Title, which is a separate field. Prefix words are small name words that are entered directly in the Last Name field; Prefix Titles are usually designations of honor, rank, or family, like Sir or Dame, Colonel, Lord or Lady, etc.]

If the above examples were entered as follows:

First Name: Jean-Paul
Last Name: de Borgomale
First Name: Grieitje
Last Name: van Sickle

the names would usually be sorted alphabetically like this:

de Borgomale
van Sickle

You can, however, tell Reunion to ignore the prefix word when sorting the surname. Choose Option -> Indexing, and select "Don't sort on prefix words with less than [4] letters." If that option were used, the above examples would be sorted as if the prefix words didn't exist, like this:

de Borgomale
van Sickle

Also, if you wanted the sort to occur only on 'de Borgomale' and NOT on 'van Sickle,' you could change the option to "less than 3 letters."

Take advantage of the data-entry shortcuts that are built into Reunion. The Ditto shortcut [Help -> Contents -> Appendices -> Shortcuts] automatically enters the most recent place or name entry you made. Speed Names [Help -> Search for Help, "Speed Names"] is a terrific feature that saves lots of repetitive typing and potential typing errors. I'd rather not type Wapwallopen, Tunkhannock, or Mehoopany more than I had to!

User ID Numbers

Reunion's ID Numbers

Each person that you enter into a Reunion family file is assigned a unique ID number called a Person ID. Each immediate family is also assigned a number called a Family ID. These numbers are shown on the family card in the status bars and optionally in lists, reports, and charts. ID numbers in Reunion can be used for navigation and searching, as well as just plain identifying someone.

The Person and Family ID numbers are appointed by Reunion and cannot be changed by the user. Reunion uses these numbers, among other things, to calculate relationships between people in your family file.

User ID Numbers

However, if you already have a different identifier for individuals or families or you plan to designate ID numbers yourself as you enter data, then the User ID field is the place to go; it's located in the Edit Person window under the Name tab.

Importing ID Numbers

You cannot import directly into the User ID field in Reunion. If you are importing a GEDCOM file to Reunion, import the ID number into a Fact field [Help -> Search for Help, "Facts"].

Once the import is done, use Edit -> Delete/Move Fields to move the new fact field's contents into the User ID field.

Delete/Move window

Adding Previously-defined ID Numbers

You might already use a numbering system for your collection of genealogical documents. In Reunion, the User ID field applies to each person, not documents. However, you can still use your numbers by adding them to the sources corresponding to your documents. See this page for an example.


In the Edit Person window, under the Events tab, you can record as many events as you wish using an Event Type, an Event Date, an Event Place, and an Event Memo.

Event Type

The birth and death events are already present because they are default fields. You can change these default fields using Options -> Default -> Person Fields [the same applies to Family Fields]. When you add more fields to your family file [covered in the next article], you'll probably designate some of them as default fields, too, so they appear each time you add or edit a person's card.


The Reunion 6 electronic manual includes information about using Dates [Help -> Contents -> Entering/Editing a Person's Information -> Dates]. I strongly suggest that you take the time to really study this information, and learn how Reunion uses dates.

Here's one thing to keep in mind, though: regardless of the way you decide to enter and/or display dates, you can change the way Reunion displays those dates anytime. For example, if you are interested in conforming to the standards of formal genealogical writing and are creating a Register Report, switch the date format to "28 January 1980." After you create the report, switch the date format back to 1/28/1980 (or whatever). This is especially handy if your Events are displayed on one line on your family cards because the numbers-only date format uses less space.


When you enter places in any field in Reunion, the most important consideration should be consistency [OK, here we go again!]. Enter all of the same type of place using the same format: "Co" for county, "Twp" for township, etc. In the U.S., the most common way of expressing a place in genealogy is by listing the town, the county, and the state. Here are some variations:

  • 14 Church Street, Nicholson, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania
  • Nicholson, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania
  • Nicholson, Wyoming Co., PA
  • Nicholson Twp, Wyoming Co, PA
  • Berry Homestead, Nicholson Twp., Wyoming Co., PA
  • Church St, Town of Nicholson, Wyoming Co, PA
  • Near Nicholson, Wyoming Co, PA
  • Wyoming County, PA
  • PA

I don't like the form "Nicholson, Wyoming, Pennsylvania" because it does not give enough information about the type of place for someone unfamiliar with the area. Here, Wyoming is the county, not the state; there is also a nearby town of Wyoming in Pennsylvania, but it's in Lackawanna County! See what I mean?

Abbreviations are fine, but remember that lots of abbreviations together look choppy when used in a narrative. Again, this is a style decision. If you know you will be using this data for a published genealogy, then abbreviations should be kept to a minimum. Reunion gives us more room to enter data in a field, even though you may not be able to see the entire entry in a list.

You could enter some details in the Place field, but after the principal name, like "Nicholson, Wyoming Co., PA; 14 Church St." This format will not read well in a narrative report, but is one way to add a street address or a church or hospital name.


For each Event, there is a corresponding Memo field. Here you can add details that describe or enhance the event. For instance, a memo field could contain the exact time of day for a birth or a death. Deciding what to put here can be tricky, because important details or further narrative should go either in the Source for this event or in a Notes field, from which they can be included in reports.

You cannot include the contents of a Memo field in a report or a chart, but you can use Find Anything to search the contents of a Memo field using the "Any Field" operator. To view the entire contents of a Memo field, double-click any Event in the list to open a larger window.

Events window


You can get a good idea of the type of information that should be entered into a Fact field by looking at the preformatted list of Facts in the Add Fact window. These are short pieces of information that enhance the understanding of a person, or of that person's life. If you are not able to keep the information succinct, then it probably belongs in a Notes field.

For instance, Facts that describe a person physically are usually one-dimensional: Eye color was brown, Hair Color was light brown, Height was about six feet, etc. The same applies to Names, like Alias/AKA, Married Name, Namesake, and Religious Name. However, if you use a Fact field for Occupation, for example, and find you cannot enter the information on one line, then it probably belongs in a Notes field. Another option is to enter the basic data in a Fact field and follow up with more information in a Notes field:

Fact- Occupation: Sawyer
Notes- He found employment as a sawyer in Charlottesville after the war, since he'd labored for his father in the family mill as a boy and knew the work. He was the foreman after only six years, and managed the business from 1882 until his death.

FYI: You do have 255 characters' worth of space to enter a Fact, and the entire entry will appear in reports. In the Edit Person window, you can see about 83 characters in a one-line Fact field, and on the Family Card you can see about 43 characters on one line (with the title showing), using the default font.

See also Help -> Contents -> Entering/Editing a Person's Information -> Facts.