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Geni Start Here Basics

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Geni Start Here Basics

Basic help for new users, and those who lose their way. Including best practice standards and links to Geni help, conveniently listed. Add images to the "about box", format the page with simple code, resource links and more...

Habits are hard to break and hopefully this area will be able to assist in creating, or correcting the best practices to use Geni.

We are all collaborating and contributing to the worlds biggest family tree, its a happy family, we communicate and work out what is best and correct.

Just as (perhaps!) a reminder, Geni is built around the concept of a shared, interconnected World Family Tree, with only one profile for each person, connected to that person's family, and that profile containing the best information known about that person (with perhaps pointers to additional details elsewhere).

Geni Does and Don'ts

  • DO correct case problems and other obvious typographical errors in names.
  • DO message a manager to ask about or correct a profile.
  • DO request to be added as a manager of a profile you are related to or especially interested in.
  • DON'T DELETE PROFILES managed by other people - if there is problem please (preferred) start a discussion about that issue or contact the manager/managers! If you add a profile which is a duplicate of one previously added, please MERGE them.
  • DON'T change the names of "close in" family without checking with them.
  • DON'T use the "first name" field for a title, prefix, or honor. ie: Rev. or Sir. Use the "title" field, "display name" or leave it off. {n.b.: Normally the Display Name is not used, so each user's preferences apply to how the name appears to them. Check your personal name preferences here, and more viewing preferences are described here}
  • DON'T mess with anyone's immediate living family.

Need help? Start a discussion here

You can start a discussion in many places on Geni: On profiles (person page), in all projects, and as a general discussion (one not "attached" to either a profile or a project).

To start a discussion please follow these steps:

  • Click on "start a discussion" marked with the red arrow.

NB: I have included a picture of the drop down list, that you can use anywhere in Geni to navigate, see your messages and go to discussions. It will show in red a number, should you have notifications.

  • Fill in the blanks

    • If you are having a problem with a profile, please include that profile link in the discussion so a curator may find it by clicking and assist you.

Adding a Profile

See Abbreviations Acronyms for Genealogy The Accepted

There are several ways to add profiles, each giving different sets of options.

  1. Add family from profile view
  2. Add family or individuals from tree view

In Tree View Mode

Whenever possible, it is easiest to use "tree mode" to work on adding family to the tree. It is also far better to use the "normal vertical mode" and not the "horizontal" (direct ancestors only). In horizontal, you may find later, that only one parent is assigned to the child.

Do not use the default Tree View's "Preferences" settings! Once you are connected to the World Tree, the Tree View can get incredibly complex. Set the "displayed generations" to 3 or 4 generations of ancestors and 1 to 3 generations of descendants. The reason for this is to limit, or simplify, the complexity of the visual display of the tree. If you are having a hard time making sense of what you are seeing in Tree View, try changing these settings a bit.

In Profile Mode


Q. Married name and maiden name ? What is correct?

  • Always fill in both the birth-surname and the last-name. Re-enter if the same. Use a different last name if it was different at the event death. Married women will often have the last-name filed as "married name" and birth-surname field as their "maiden Name".
  • In Danish and many European profiles, the correct way is:
    • First and middle names in "first name" field.
    • Maiden name in BOTH surname fields, ie: Last Name and Birth Name.
    • Copy and paste any special characters that may appear in those names, if in doubt, ask for help, contact any managers of those profiles.
  • Do not capitalize the entire last name field; it looks ugly, and is hard on the eye. Q. How to treat "titled" profiles?
  • Birth surname: Percy
  • Last name: Percy
  • Suffix: KG
  • Display name: Sir Henry Percy, of Whittenhouse
  • nb Normally it is best to leave the Display-name blank; "titled" are an exception.
  • nb in the drop down that appears when you add a profile in "tree mode", "suffix" Sr. is Senior NOT Sir. Except for living persons, it is better to use Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV, ...) rather than Sr. and Jr. Q. Why "Also known as"?
  • AKA is very handy to keep a record of names and "spelling errors" of names. Many census forms have made mistakes in transition to digital sources. Place those names, and other names here, separated by a comma and a space. This will be picked up by Search engines and Geni. Matches will be made, making everyone's job easier. That is also where a variety a 'married names' can be put without having multiple 'married names' stuffed into the Last Name field. Separate AKA entries with commas.

Working with dates

These options appear in tree mode, only after first "save" you will need to "edit" to add these features, but, it is worth the effort. You will find many more "Smart Matches" if you do.

  • Exact = the correct full date, or year (circa) should be included.
  • Before = if you know that a marriage took place for the person, but you do not have a birth date, subtract 10 years from the marriage date, and add this as a birth date, and use the dropdown and select "Before" Another example is, if you have a baptism date, then, use it as the birth date, but make sure you select "Before"
  • After = same principle as "before", common sense should decide when to use this.
  • Between = sometimes two dates are given, or Birth 2/2/1654/55. Use the "between" to display this.
  • Guessing the date: If no date is given, and say, a child was born to that person on a date given, I subtract 10 years from that child's birth date, and enter "born before". This can be really helpful to keep the generations separate, and, prevent bad merges. If that person was married on a certain date, I do the same for that. Their "death date" would be that same year, but "after" entered.

If what I have is baptism info I enter that date (before) in the birth field. If what I have is burial info I enter that date (before) in the death field.

In colonial America the burial records (tombstones) are by far the most extant, accurate & easiest available. But if you just enter that in burial field it won't show in tree view leading to all kinds of issues.

Baptism - be careful in Tree View not to enter this date in the death field, you need to click the blue link to open that collapsed area first, then check that you have the correct place before entering it.

Why fill in all the blanks?

The more you information you can include in the appropriate boxes, the "smarter" Geni gets, the matches will be more accurate, and, your tree will build faster. It also prevents inappropriate "merges" with other branches of the tree. Correctness is a primary importance in the finding your ancestors.

Formatting The 'About' Information

The About box should always have some information in it, if you cannot do it, immediately, make a note and re visit the page on a quiet day. Information in the About box will help the page get "indexed" on the search engines, this is how people will find the page, and, be able to build on to the tree.

It is also respectful to give the memory of that person some time and importance. Too easily people can forget that we are recording the lives past of "real" people, who have "other" descendants as well. To share here is to preserve some of their existence, and, allow others to know them better.

Added to this above article:

  • How to get the image URL (link) - Right click on the image, and click "Properties".

  • Copy the link displayed by highlighting it, right click and then copy, "or ctrl.C". You may wish to paste the link in to notepad, to make the changes to it, or enter it directly in to the profile.

  • Remove the http: from the beginning of the link.
  • Your finished link to enter should look like this:
  • Sizes _t just before the .jpg (file extension) is thumbnail. Use _small , _medium , and _large for other sizes.

Using external links

To use a link in the "About" box do the following:

Normal Links:


Some Wiki links end in ")", * All normal links are fine, but Wiki more and more are ending their links with the ")", and it does not work, unless the last one is replaced with %29 which is read by the browser as ).

Those wiki links look like this:

[ This link will not reach the page]
  • Change to:
[ GAP between text added here and the http link]

You must leave a space between the link and the text that will become the link, so you do not need to have a gap between the * and the [ *[ to create an indent.


Profile Settings

Public or Private

  • When you "edit" a profile, you can "tick" the box in the upper right hand corner Public.
  • All living people, are set to private.
  • First 4 generations can be set to private.
  • While working on a line, some keep it set to private, until finished.
  • You cannot merge a private profile.
  • In the spirit of collaboration and respecting that many can have shared ancestors, set profiles of Deceased persons to public.

Checking Parents

Profile Guidelines

Master Profiles (MP) and what are they for?

Merging Profiles

See Merge Guide where an explanation is given on how to resolve data conflicts.

Getting the most out of Geni

Working with projects and Research tips

History Link

History Link is an application that uses all the information in the Geni World Tree to report on all your ancestors. You can see if there are problems in your tree, how many Master Profiles in your tree etc.

The BEST feature of the History App is that projects have been added. This is a great way to use projects:

  • I created this project "Clergy in our family"
  • I added it to the History App here by adding the link to the project ie: URL
  • I added profiles to the project will add link on how to...
  • Then I went to the History App to create an ancestor report. If any profiles, in included projects (there are many) are in my tree, they are listed.
  • Play with the app, try different settings, as choosing MP for instance, will not include ordinary profiles...

A companion application, Ancestor Graph, will generate a "circle chart" of either ancestors or descendants from a particular profile (you can change the 'focus' profile as desired. See more information at the History Link Project.


Geni Help