Report Tips and Tricks


This summarises some little known tips and tricks with Reports. Remember that with a Report open pressing the F1 key, or clicking the Help button in sub-windows, gives detailed advice. Also work through the tutorials on Reports in the Family Historian Documentation.

Report Content & Style

The summary of Standard Report Types describes their characteristics and how to customise popular settings.

Use the Family Historian Sample Project to obtain typical examples of each report type.

Reports may customise their choice & style of records and facts, media pictures, source citations, index entries, heading formats & page layout. Some tips are given below, and advanced features explained in the Report Content, Media, Format and Layout advice.

Customisation Tips

In the popular reports involving Individuals and Families, the way Facts are displayed is affected by the Tools > Fact Types Edit button definitions for each Fact.

  • Narrative reports show Fact sentences as defined by Narrative Report Fact Sentence Templates. These can be extensively customised, but sometimes require advanced techniques.
    • To make the unbroken paragraphs more readable, insert the Formatting Codes for New Line (<br>) or New Paragraph (<para>) at the start or end of some Fact Sentence Templates.
    • To insert natural language components into a Fact sentence, insert the Note ({note}) code into the Sentence Template, and enter the desired wording into the Note box of the chosen Fact.
  • Indented reports Ancestor Outline and Descendant Outline, show Fact names as defined by the Tools > Fact Types > Edit setting for the Abbreviation of each Fact (or if blank then the Label). Those settings can also affect the names of Facts shown in the Property Box Dialogue: Individuals: Facts Tab and Records Window.
    • To list Facts line by line set Layout Events and Attributes… to on separate lines on the Report Options > Main tab.
    • The Facts can stand out even more by adding a bullet character (●) to the front of each Abbreviation setting mentioned above, e.g. ● Born & ● Died. However, that affects some Facts shown in the Property Box Dialogue: Individuals: Facts Tab but can be counteracted via the Advanced button and setting the Override Template to the Fact name plus {place} code, e.g. Born {place} & Died {place}.
    • The Descendant Outline report is similar to popular reports produced by other products.

In all Reports the Media are governed by the Pictures tab and the Sources tab. The number of Media images included is chosen by the Max Pics settings.

Further advanced customisation is explained by the Report Content, Media, Format and Layout advice.

See Downloads and Links ~ Report Types for some predefine Custom Reports.

Report Navigation

Note that each Report Window has two vertical scroll bars on the right. The inner bar scrolls up & down one page, while the outer bar scrolls through all the pages.

The panel on the right has several navigation aids. Press the F1 key to obtain advice about their use. If you need to change the selection of records included in the report, use the Records button to obtain the Select Records dialogue again. To display the Property Box Dialogue for a record, double click its entry under Page Records, and from that dialogue it is easy to navigate to parents, spouse, and children.

  • Tabulated reports identify close family relationships via labelled entries such as Father, Mother, Spouse, Husband, Wife & Children.
  • Narrative reports have a heading for each Generation, and each person has a unique number.
  • Indented reports may have lines connecting the indented generations, and each person has a unique number.

Where Source Citations are included via the Report > Report Options > Sources tab, each has a unique number that is cross-referenced by a superscript on the associated Facts, etc.

An Index to people, places, and attributes can be included via the Report > Report Options > Index tab.

Report Formatting

The report style is set via the Report > Report Options > Format tab and Page Layout tab.

Format Tab

This tab sets the character Font, the Hdg Style, and Heading text for each section. Select the item to change and click the Edit button bottom left. It also allows the Format for Dates to be chosen, and possibly the Empty Section Text and Colours of graphical items.

  • The Font options support the usual Font set, Font Style (Regular, Italic, Bold, etc.), point Size, Strikeout, Underline, and Colour characteristics. It may need some experimentation to discover which option affects which category of text.
  • The Hdg Style only affects a few top level headings and specifies the Gap and Horizontal Line above and below those headings, and how many subsequent lines to keep with the heading on the same page. If this last setting is significantly increased to say 99 lines it will effectively force a new page for that heading level.
  • Each Heading option lets you Hide/Show Heading and define what text is shown. The Heading Text field uses standard Expressions comprising Data References and Functions plus the special code {default}.

Click the Help button and see the Report Options ~ Format Tab for further advice.

Page Layout Tab

This tab adjusts the page style including Orientation (Portrait or Landscape), Margins, Header, Footer, and the size of Indents, Tabs, etc. It may need some experimentation to discover which Indents & Tabs affect which report text.

Click the Help button and see the Report Options ~ Page Layout Tab for further advice.

Using Reports

Here are a few suggestions to help new users get started and avoid major pitfalls.

  • The Downloads and Links ~ Report Types section has some predefined Custom Reports. These will be supplemented with report styles that closely mimic reports derived by people migrating to fh from other products, and will provide some guidance on how they can be further customised.
  • Reports can be printed directly to a printer. With a report displayed, see the Print, Print Preview & Print Setup commands on the File menu, and the Print & Printer Setup buttons on the right that do the same. Unfortunately, printer setup settings are NOT preserved from one fh session to the next.
  • Alternatively, use the Report > Save Report As > PDF File option to save as a Portable Document Format file that can be printed or sent to virtually any device electronically.
    It seems that the Family Historian PDF Nova print utility upsets Adobe OpenType fonts, but other OpenType fonts and TrueType fonts are alright. Microsoft Print to PDF is even worse, but Utility ~ Primo PDF via Print > PrimoPDF and Utility ~ CutePDF Writer via Print > CutePDF are fine.
  • Reports can be combined in Books. It is advisable to customise the desired Reports beforehand. Some settings can be independently customised for each Report in a Book via the item Settings button. However, the Book Settings button adjusts the Sources, Format, Page Layout & Privacy tab settings for all items throughout the Book.
  • Unlike Diagrams there are no Report > Save Report As > JPEG/PNG Image File options. Instead use the menu Report > Copy Page options to copy to the clipboard and save in an image editor, but that only works one page at a time. So for multiple pages use Report > Save Report As > PDF File and convert using a PDF to image file utility.

If fh cannot deliver what is needed, the following options and workarounds may be helpful.

  • Use the Report > Save Report As > Word-Processor Document (RTF) option to save as a Rich Text Format file that can be post-processed in a word-processor such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, etc, and then printed or saved as a PDF.
  • fh does not have its own spell-checker, so one solution is to save customised Record Detail Reports in Rich Text Format as above, and use the word-processor spell-checker.
  • Specialist reporting and web generation tools … TBD
  • Other techniques if any … TBD

More tips and tricks will be added here from time to time, based on what comes up on the Forums for getting particular presentation and formatting features, or other uses for reports that we haven't thought of.

Forum Threads