A couple of years ago, I posted several articles about using Excel to help with genealogy research.  I created my own version of Family Group Sheets and this week, I’ve begun making modifications to those to help me keep track of clues that I’m finding while I’m trying to determine if a certain family connects to mine. The time frame for this family is late 1700’s to early 1800’s so I’m not able to find potential birth dates based on census records or anything like that, so little clues from wills, deeds and court records can help me put the pieces together.

But I need to be able to keep these clues in an organized fashion – not on post it notes on my bulletin board or even in a notebook because sooner or later, I’ll lose track of those.  So I’m using hidden rows in my Excel Group Sheet. The beauty of hidden rows is that I can print a regular group sheet

or I can print an expanded version showing the clues that I’ve been gathering. A Group sheet fits on one side of a sheet of paper, but these rows can be whatever size I need to add every little clue that I find and I won’t have to worry about it ruining the look of my group sheet.  I can transcribe parts of documents or write out my thought processes to help me match potential ancestors with information I already have.

To include hidden rows in your Excel file:

1) Right click on the number of the row below the location you’d like to insert a row.  Select “insert”.

2)  I prefer for the row to be one cell with centered, red, italic print.  You can select all of these options by highlighting the cells, right clicking and clicking on the options you’d like.

3)  My group sheet has some areas for notes, but I usually add a hidden row under each child’s name and any other place which I might want to add information such as birth/death/marriage dates or parents’ names.  To hide a row, right click on the number at the beginning of the row you’d like to hide.  Select “hide” and the line will disappear.  Notice that the number also disappears, which can be a reminder that you have a hidden row.  If rows are hidden, they do not appear on your print out.

4)  To make the row visible again, highlight the rows above and below, right click and select “unhide”.  Once rows are unhidden, they will show up on your print out.

5)  If you have more than one hidden row, you can reveal them all by highlighting the entire group sheet or a group of rows, right clicking and selecting “unhide”.

Using hidden rows keeps me organized.  Knowing that I can add as much information as I want without messing up the look of my traditional group sheet makes it more likely that I will add the information to my sheet.  I won’t have to worry about missing the clue that ties everything together.

Would you like a copy of the Group Sheet in Excel?  Just click here!

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