When you open RootsMagic Essentials for the very first time, you get a RootsMagic News window containing links to various announcements and stories of interest to RootsMagic users. If you want to read any of these, you can click the links; otherwise, just click Close. When the RootsMagic News box closes, you see a Welcome to RootsMagic screen. To begin your family tree, follow these steps:

  1. Click Create a New File.

    A box appears, enabling you to do several things:

    • Identify the new filename.

    • Determine the location for the file.

    • Set options, including the date format for the file, whether to display a number after a name, whether to display surnames in all capital letters, and whether to set up and support some additional fields for the Latter-day Saints and FamilySearch family tree support.

    • Choose whether to start a file from scratch or import data from another program.

  2. Enter the new filename in the New File Name box, set any of the optional formatting items, and identify whether you're starting a new file or importing an existing one; then click OK.

    In this case, you're starting a family tree for the Abell family, so enter Abell as the filename. Set the date format and selected the option for starting a new file.

  3. Click OK.

    The database is created and the Pedigree view opens.


You can start entering information about yourself in the Pedigree chart (presuming that you choose to start with yourself). Then you can add information for four additional generations.

Usually, it's easiest to enter information about yourself, your spouse, and your children, and then work backward through your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on.

After you complete your direct lines back as far as you can, enter information about each of your siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, and other relatives. Always enter as much information as you can in each of the fields in the Add Person dialog boxes.

Follow these steps to fill in the Pedigree page:

  1. Select the Click to Add a Person box in the Pedigree chart.

    The Add New Person dialog box appears, and then you can fill in details about yourself or an ancestor.

  2. Complete the Add New Person box and click OK.

    Type the first and middle names in the Given Name(s) field and the last name in the Surname field. Then complete the remaining fields to the extent that you know the biographical facts about that person.

    Remember to use your maiden name if you're female — regardless of your marital status.

    After you click OK, the Edit Person dialog box appears.

  3. Complete the Edit Person dialog box and click Save.

    You can add more facts about yourself or an ancestor by clicking these buttons in the edit window — Notes, Sources, Media, Address, and To Do. You can also add or delete facts by clicking the appropriate button and then following the prompts in the Fact Types box that appears. After you finish adding the details, click Save.

    Make sure that you use the four-digit year when you enter dates in RootsMagic. If you inadvertently use only two numerals for the year, the software accepts the year as is, leaving it ambiguous for anyone who references your database in the future.

  4. Click Close.

After you've entered your first person, you can click the next person box you want to complete or click the Add People to the Database icon on the toolbar and enter information for people related to the individual, such as spouse, children, and parents. You can keep track of family units by clicking the Family tab.