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Intermediate Genealogy:

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What it is
How you read one
Converting text to GEDCOM


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Sooner or later you're going to run into the term GEDCOM. Someone will ask you to send one, or offer to send you one. The file extension is GED. The file name isn't important. A GEDCOM of the Hatfield family prepared by a McCoy might be named HATFIELD.GED, TEMP002.GED or VARMINTS.GED.

GEDCOM stands for GE-nealogy D-ata COM-munications. It is a text file with a standard format. The format specifies levels and keywords. Most beginners wonder what it is, how they read it, and what others mean by standards. Sometimes people wonder if they can convert text to GEDCOM. So, broken down for your convenience, here are four pages:

What is a GEDCOM?
This page describes a GEDCOM, with an example.

How do I read a GEDCOM?
You don't. You let your program read it. This page tells you what to do after you receive a GEDCOM.

How do I convert a text file to a GEDCOM?
This comes up now and again. It is possible to convert a text file, Excel spreadsheet or word document to a GEDCOM, sometimes.

What are Standards?
The other pages mention standards. This one expands on the concept. It lists some places you should have standards.

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This page updated: June 21, 2014