Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Mailbox: FamilySearch Family Tree Manual

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Readers,

Last Monday I told you that I would inquire about the apparently retired FamilySearch Family Tree manual. Here’s my email exchange with product manager, Ron Tanner:

Dear Ron,

Are there any plans for a new Family Tree manual?

--- The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Not as far as I am aware. The manual is being split into various help articles that can be found through the help system.


Other readers also chimed in.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I believe the FS Powers that Be have decided to put a lot of the FT material into the well-hidden and difficult to use query system that has mostly replaced the Knowledge Document system for which there was no accessible table of contents. The query system results are largely lists of links which, if used, take one away from the main page. This system needs to be broadly revamped to have text right there on the page and arranged in sensible contents outlines instead of more or less randomly accessed by searches.


Dear Ancestry Insider,

I agree with Lucy Whitehead. The manual is very helpful and several of our patrons prefer using the manual compared with spending the time watching a video.

Thanks, Arleen

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Here are the steps to find the FamilySearch Family Tree Reference Guide

1. Sign-in to FamilySearch

2. Click on Get Help > FAQ

3. In the Frequently Asked Questions Box type “user guide” and click on the magnifying glass

4. Ciick on “Family Tree Reference Guide”

The query returns…

The FamilySearch Family Tree Reference guide can be found at:

Additional Information is given for Members (this only appears if the patron signs-in with an LDS Account username and password).

The Reference Guide hasn’t been update since 18 October 2013. The patron is generally better off searching for task specific knowledge articles which are maintained regularly.

Allen Forsyth

My thanks to all who helped.

---The Ancestry Insider


  1. I find that having to go to the FS blog and finding answers is sometimes possible but it is not a "help" index. Alternately, I sometimes find that the wiki will have answers. About that FS Wiki: the printed articles are difficult to read; I know I have the option of cntrl + but the default appearance of the articles should be in a font and a type that is clearly readable. I don't see why updating the manual would be such a difficult matter. Make the manual available in wiki style and volunteers can update it!

  2. FamilySearch doesn't seem to realize that a lot of people live in areas where enough bandwidth to watch videos is either not available or too expensive. ($205 a month?)

    Also, many seniors find it easier to use a manual rather than try to go back an forth between the screen they are trying to use and another screen with online help. I have two screens at home and still need to print things out. I can find the answer I need in five minutes of reading in a manual, while watching a video can take much longer, too.


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