For most of the people in my tree, I have multiple residence facts because they are in different places at different times during their life.

Entries may be something like:
1900 - Hill County, Texas
1910 - Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas
1920 - Alice, Jim Wells County, Texas
1930 - Waco, McLennan County Texas

Family Tree Maker software requires that one residence entry be the "preferred" entry. Which one should I choose? Does it make any difference? I would like to be consistent.

3 Answers 3


The preferred tag controls which one of multiple facts are included in reports and charts when the option 'include only preferred facts' is selected. If the 'include only preferred facts' option is not selected, all the entries appear.

Taking your multiple residences example, if you wanted to show your ancestor moved around, choose not to select the 'include only preferred facts' option so that they are all included. If you wanted to show several family members lived at a particular location, select that location as preferred and selectt the 'include only preferred facts' option.

Setting the preffered tag at the time of data entry may not be very helpful as you may not have decided on how you will present the data. If you decide to record this in a particular way check the default program settings and alter them accordingly.


How about adding in a 5th residence of "Texas, USA" for the period 1900-1930 and making that the preferred one? (Keep the others...).

Personally, I don't think the concept makes any sense so I'd say it doesn't matter.

  • 1
    For the purposes of drawing a general conclusion this is a valid approach given the software limitations. However it is messy to source and will get in the way when a report including all the residences is created.
    – Sue Adams
    Nov 4, 2012 at 11:49
  • Indeed, Sue, I agree. However, I didn't say it made sense, but it's the only thing I could see that fits in with a rather odd FTM feature < grin >
    – AdrianB38
    Nov 4, 2012 at 16:29
  • @AdrianB38, I agree the concept of a preferred residence doesn't make any sense for someone who is no longer living. All of those addresses are part of the historical thread for that person and ideally should be recorded as such.
    – ACProctor
    Nov 4, 2012 at 16:54

The essence of your question is that the software asks for a "preferred entry" not a required one and is limited to a small number (one?) of products in the market. This is not likely to be an issue if you exchange data with others.

In those circumstances, there is no standard response other than the one you suggest--be consistent.

You seem to have a wide choice of options from which to choose:

  1. do not use the (preferred facts) feature at all and avoid the issue
  2. use the latest known location (and update if new data emerges)
  3. use the location where most time was spent
  4. use the site of a key life milestone (birth, death, first job, ??)

Above all, don't make life difficult for yourself. The software is meant to work for you, not the other way round.

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