Gramps: Decendant Report

Recently, Kris Hocker of Kris Hocker’s /genealogy wrote a post titled, Writing My Family Genealogy ~ A Long, Winding Path.

The topic of this post is the writing of a descendants book, and the difficulty in managing numbering in a word processor. This is one area where I think Gramps may excel, and I’d be surprised if other word processors didn’t have a similar feature.

Gramps includes an abundance of report formats it can generate. I’ve not bothered with the text-based ones, but if I were going to write a descendant (or ancestral) report, I would definitely use Gramps.

Below is a summary of descendant report options. Because Kris’s post was about a descendant report, I’ll focus on Gramps’s descendant report options. The ancestral report probably uses mostly the same options, but may have minor differences, not to mention it follows the family tree in the other direction.

Report Options

Center Person: This is the person the report is centered on. The report begins with this person, and follows all of his or her children.

Name Format: Names can be formatted in a number of ways:

  • Default (Gramps default format)
  • Surname, Given Suffix
  • Given Surname Suffix
  • Given (perhaps useful if everyone has the same surname)
  • Main Surnames, Given Patronymic Suffix Prefix

I do not know if there is a way to add new name formats without getting into the program’s source code (which is freely available for software programmers to modify).

Numbering System: This is the system to number people by. One dilemma when using a word processor is how to number everyone without adding a new person requiring renumbering everyone by hand. With Gramps, the numbering in the report is handled automatically when the report is generated. The supported numbering systems are:

  • Henry numbering
  • d’Aboville numbering
  • Record (Modified Register) numbering

Personally, I like both the Henry and d’Aboville system over the Record system, as they make it easier to locate ancestors.

Generations: Simply put, you can control how many generations to include, from 1 to 100.

Translation: The generated page is going to have English text, such as “[name] was born on [date] in [place]. He died on [date] in [place]. He is the son of [name] and [name]. He was married to [name].” However, you aren’t limited to English. You can choose from almost 30 languages to use instead.


The content section has a list of checkboxes, for options to enable or disable.

Use callname for common name: My great grandpa Oznia Winter apparently went by the name Jack. He’s listed as Jack in city directories. His gravestone says Jack Winter. If I’m outputting a report, I may wish it to refer to him as Jack rather than his birth name of Oznia. That’s what this option does. (This option applies to call names for everyone in the report, not for one person individually.)

Use full dates instead of only the year: You may wish to use only years to remove visual clutter, or you may opt to put in full dates to include every detail.

List children: I’m not certain about this option. If it’s a descendant report, you’d think you’d want it to list children. I haven’t played with this one to see what it does.

Compute death age: This includes the age each person died, such as “He died on [date] in [place] at the age of 64 years, 2 months.”

Omit duplicate ancestors: This is another I’m uncertain of. In what case would duplicate ancestors be included? I’m sure it’s possible. I haven’t played with this one.

Use complete sentences: If unchecked, sentences are compact, such as “Died [year] in [place].” When checked, it becomes, “He died on [date] in [place].”

Add descendant reference in child list: I haven’t looked into this one, either.


This covers what kind of information to include in the report. These are checkboxes to enable or disable.

Include notes: If I were going to publish a book on a branch of my family, I would use Gramps’s notes feature to write the content of material on each person.

Include attributes: Gramps allows adding attributes to a person, such as hair color, social security number, etc.

Include Photo/Images from Gallery: Each person can have photographs and images added to their gallery, and these may be included in the report. Even though “images” is plural, I only see the main photo for each person included. (This may be because I was using PDF format for testing this feature. Other formats may include images differently.)

Include alternative names

Include events

Include addresses

Include sources: This is a major one. Information is given superscript numbers such as “26a” and “42b”, with all footnotes at the end of the report.

Include source notes: Sources can have notes, too, which may be useful to include in the report.

Include spouses: If checked, detailed information will be included about spouses. In unchecked, they’re limited to pretty much a name.

Include spouse reference: I’m not certain about this one.

Include sign of succession (‘+’) in child-list

Include path to start-person: Shows the path of relation for each person to the starting ancestor.

Missing Information

Missing places and dates can be replaced with ___. If these options are not enabled, then sentences for missing information will be excluded from the report.

Output Formats

The Detailed Descendant Report supports creating files in HTML, RTF, OpenDocument, plain text, and PDF formats.

The star of the formats here is OpenDocument. This format can be converted to EPUB (e-book) format using a separate tool, and I’ll be surprised if functionality isn’t included in Gramps within a year. OpenDocument files can also be opened in Microsoft Office.

Sample Output

This is a sample of HTML output.

Lacking Options

Currently, I’ve found one very lacking option. In Gramps, people can be marked as private. Also, people can be assumed as living if they were born within the last 110 years and do not have a date of death. The descendant report lacks options to exclude people who are either private-marked or living.


I’d be surprised if other family tree programs lacked this report feature. If I were going to print a book with family tree data, I’d work with Gramps developers to add options for excluding people and notes marked as private, then I’d use Gramps as my application to write the contents of the book.

I’d output in OpenDocument format, and manually add any text that should be before the report, and any that should be after it. (I’d probably work with Gramps developers to add the option to select notes to use at the start and end of the report.) Update 2012-09-26: The report type “Book Report” allows including title page, table of contents, alphabetical index, and more, along with including one or more of the other report types (such as descendant report).

From there, I could convert the document to a format suitable for printing, and convert it to EPUB format. Since the OpenDocument to EPUB converter is currently at an early stage, I’d probably have to work with its developer(s) to get its formatting output working perfectly.

(This article refers to Gramps 3.4.1-1.)

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