There are many different, affordable software packages available and are user friendly. One key to family research is being able to locate information quickly and it helps to be organized. At least as much as one can!
All packages offer a convenient way of keeping tabs on the family names being researched. You might start out with about 15 names but that can grow to several hundred, in a very short amount of time and when that happens, it can become mind boggling!
Some of the more popular software packages are:
Ancestral Quest-$29.95 (free trial)
Family Tree Maker-$39.95 (free trial)
Legacy Family Tree-$29.95 (free standard edition)
RootsMagic-$29.95 (free trial)
The Master Genealogist-$59.00 (free trial)
Over the years, I have used Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic. All the packages offer a large selection of great reports and the types of reports do vary some between the packages.
I prefer RootsMagic because of the ease of use and the options available. You can have multiple trees so if you wanted to keep track of your side and your husband’s side seperately, you can. There is a large selection of reports including blank pedigree and family group sheets which I use all the time.
RootsMagic allows me to combine several reports, charts, notes, photos, sources and other text and automatically will create a table of contents and a full index for my book project. I can save my project in PDF format or burn it on a Sharable CD that I can send to others.
The Shareable CD features a custom home page with your own title, photos, description and your contact information in addition to including a read-only version of RootsMagic. This allows you to share your data and multimedia items with family and friends!
Most of the software packages allow a person to generate professional looking web sites automcatically from your data generally including pedigree chart, narrative reports and other combinations of reports and photos.
In the long run, having the software is not only a time saver but adds to the enjoyment of doing family research. You can see where information is missing, if there are duplicate names, what sources you have already and what ones you still need. The software leaves you more time to actually do research instead of organizing and finding things. I know in the beginning it may take a little longer especially if you have years of documents and notes already accumulated. But soon you will be up and running!
Since most packages offer a free trial period, try a couple of different ones before buying. Don’t forget to check out the free ones too. Some are really great. However, they generally do not offer as many options as the packages and be sure to see how much space you are allowed.