Your Family Tree: Help! When You Are Confused.
Tip: Before you even start to go through a new-to-you website, click on their HELP button, and investigate the resources on the site and how to access them.
Most websites you will visit in your family history searches have a HELP button on the top of the website. Look carefully, sometimes it is very small. If you can’t find one, go to the very bottom of the home web page and look for a HELP link there. This will take you to pages of frequently-asked questions (FAQ), usually including information on how to use the site effectively and efficiently, what the different sections of the web site can display, how to print off a document, how to save your record, and more.
An amazing number of people researching family trees never use a HELP link. I’m not sure why that is so. Perhaps they feel they are “intelligent, capable, competent, efficient, exemplary, comfortable with computers, etc. – so do not need to use HELP!” Hmmm. Really. Most experts I have met are quite happy with HELP buttons!
HELP is particularly useful when you are in early stages of research and want to gather information on which sites or which programs might be your first choices to use. On many database sites – whether commercial fee-based, or free sites – there is detailed information on how to search through the site. By using HELP, you can read topics discussed on how-to (for example) fix specific problems, or add information that is unusual. If a site does not appear to have a HELP link, go through the “FAQ” – Frequently Asked Questions link so that you can review the kinds of issues that are being discussed. FAQs are usually linked at the bottom of a web page.
Eventually you will likely use the FamilySearch website, the ancestor catalogue and library of ancestors from around the world. The FamilySearch site is provided and hosted by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and the site is more frequently referred to as the LDS site. On their pages you will find a wonderful HELP link that will save you so much time and confusion.
Your country likely has a detailed Library and Archives online site, which you will want to investigate using for your ancestor research. As a Canadian, I have been all over the website for the Library Archives of Canada – a very large website of digitized information, with records, documents, stories, art, diaries, and more. Check out the HELP link before you ever begin searching through the all the information to be found in the “On Our Website” link.
Are you confused about which family tree software to use to keep all your data together? On the Internet, you will find a number of software programs offered, ranging from free to over $100. As a beginner, you will want to use a program which has a high rating for ‘ease of use’ and ‘help documentation’. By searching on the terms “genealogy software review” you will find helpful information as well as screenshots of the top-10 or more programs to help you decide which one will work best for your purposes. Go to each software program’s website, and check through the HELP button on each one for more assistance. If it seems as if their explanations make sense to you, great! That will be the one you want.
By using HELP buttons on web sites, and reading FAQs, you will soon be an expert!