Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are new to indexing or a regular visitor, you may have questions! Open the tabs below to see the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

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Can I choose what I want to index?

Yes. There are always many projects available for indexing. You can choose to index records from many areas of the world with varying levels of difficulty.

Is a time commitment required?

There are no minimum time requirements. You may index at any time or place and for as long as your schedule permits. If you are interrupted, when you return, the indexing program remembers where you were. A batch of work usually takes about 30 minutes to complete, and you have an entire week to finish it. If you can’t finish it, the batch becomes available for someone else to complete. If you don’t want to finish it, you can even return it.

What if I don't have time to finish a batch?

If you have been working online, the information you've indexed is automatically saved to both your computer and the indexing server when you press Tab or Enter in the last field of each record. Your work will not be lost when the batch expires. However, if you are working offline and do not save the information to the server before the due date, your work will not be saved to the indexing server and will be lost when it expires.

Where do I go with questions about how information should be indexed?

The information in the field helps and project instructions cover many common questions about how to index information. If that information doesn’t answer your questions, you can also check the basic indexing guidelines. These guidelines are general instructions that apply to all projects and can be used to answer many questions you may have while indexing. These instructions cover questions such as:

  • Do I mark the whole field unreadable if I can only decipher a few letters in the name?
  • What do I index if the birthplace was crossed out, and another place was written in the margin?
  • How do I index the age of a child listed as stillborn?

How can I get help with reading the handwriting?

On the toolbar, click the quill pen icon to see examples of the way letters have been written over the centuries. For even more examples of handwriting, visit the Handwriting Helps page. If you can read some letters, but not all of them, use the ? character in place of one letter you can't read, and the * character in place of multiple letters you can't read.

Can I get help with my batch before I submit it?

Different types of help are available for working on projects and using the program.

  • How to index information: Review the project instructions and field helps, which give specific instructions about how to index information on an image. Project instructions generally apply to more general information; the field helps apply to a specific piece of information.
  • Using the program: Click Help on the menu at the top of the screen, and then click Help on the drop-down menu for instructions on how to use the indexing program, or press F1.
  • Have someone else look at your batch: Using the Share Batch feature allows indexers, arbitrators, administrators, and support personnel to collaborate on a single batch. While working on a batch, click File, and then click Share Batch. Give the number that appears to a friend, your group administrator, or Support so they can look at the batch with you.
Contact Support: Click the Help menu, and then click Contact Support to find contact information for those who can help you either locally or through FamilySearch Support.

How can I get feedback to know how I am doing?

  • On the indexing start page, click the Arbitration Results tab. You can review a batch that has been arbitrated and see where an arbitrator changed any data.
  • You can also use the Share Batch feature (see question 6). Index a batch all the way through, but don’t submit it. Share the batch, and have someone take a look at it with you to give you pointers and answer any questions you may have had while indexing.

What is arbitration?

Batches are typically indexed by two indexers. Arbitration is the process of reconciling any differences in the results, based on the arbitrator’s knowledge of the types of records and the project instructions.

What if I don't agree with the arbitrated value?

Click on the Feedback button in the Feedback column when you are viewing the arbitration results. Review the information on that screen, and if you still feel your value was correct, click the Please Review checkbox. This feedback is recorded and reviewed, so it's important that you ask for a review when you have a concern.

Can I become an arbitrator?

Yes, when you have gained experience as an indexer. Successful arbitrators are those who enjoy indexing and tend to be detail oriented. They:

  • Are familiar with the basic indexing guidelines.
  • Have experience indexing many projects of differing difficulty levels.
  • Follow the instructions given with each project.
  • Enjoy deciphering handwriting on the records.
If you feel you have enough experience to be successful as an arbitrator, contact your group administrator or stake indexing director and let him or her know you are interested. You can find your administrator’s contact information in the indexing program under the Help menu (click Contact Support, and then look under Local Support). If local support is not shown, an administrator has not yet been assigned to your group, and you can contact FamilySearch Support.

Who is my group administrator or stake indexing director, and what does he or she do?

Stake indexing directors or group administrators are local volunteers who help indexers in their stakes and groups. They have five basic responsibilities:

  • Help people get the indexing application installed, if needed.
  • Answer questions about the indexing projects.
  • Train those who need additional help in using the indexing application.
  • Assign arbitrators.
  • Index batches from different projects to become familiar with them.

How do I find out who my stake indexing director or group administrator is?

To find your stake indexing director or group administer, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the indexing program and sign in with your LDS or FamilySearch account.
  2. Click Help in the menu bar.
  3. Click Contact Support.
  4. A window will open showing contact information for local support and FamilySearch support. If you have a stake indexing director or group administrator, he or she will be listed as local support.

Why don't all projects have highlights?

Highlights are used when all documents in a project use the same format. For example, census records often use standardized forms that allow us to create highlights that will match every image in the project. Most projects span many decades, and forms usually change over time, so highlights that would work in one part of a project won't work in another. When highlights are not available for a project, you can use the ruler to help you keep track of your place on the document.

Can I index projects in languages other than my native language?

If you read or speak another language or are familiar with the types of genealogical documents and terms used in that language, you are welcome to index those types of projects.

I still have unanswered questions! Where do I go now?

Visit our Training page to search for additional help documents and tutorials, or contact FamilySearch Support with additional questions.

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Can I generate reports about how my stake is doing?

Yes. You can run a number of types of reports to see the indexing work being done in your stake. Get step-by-step instructions for running these reports here.

Can I generate separate reports for individual wards?

You can run a ward-level report that will show separately the work done in each ward. You can then export it in a file that you can break apart to send to wards separately in HTML, PDF, CSV, or XLS format.

The indexing system sometimes runs slowly on Sundays. What can we do to mitigate these issues and continue working?

Sometime prior to Sunday, or early Sunday morning when fewer people are online, download as many batches as you would like to index later in the day. Then you can work offline for the rest of the day and not be affected by slow indexing servers. Be sure not to let the batches expire that you indexed while offline; any information you indexed while offline is not saved to the indexing server and could be lost if the batch is not saved or submitted.

Is there a way from within the indexing application for indexers to get in touch with me?

Yes. An indexer can find your contact information under the Help menu (click Contact Support, and then look under Local Support). If you do not appear on the list, there are a few possible reasons. They may not be using their LDS Account to index, or they might have moved recently. Indexers are moved into the correct stake based on their Church membership records, and sometimes it takes time to get their records into your stake. Another possibility is that you are not listed as a stake indexing director in our system. If you don't have access to the Administration tabcontact FamilySearch Support.

How do I help people become arbitrators?

First, be sure they are ready to become arbitrators. Are they familiar with the basic indexing guidelines? Do they have experience indexing many kinds of projects of differing difficulty levels? (Two thousand records is a good start.) Do they follow the instructions as given with each project? Do they enjoy deciphering handwriting on the records? If you can answer yes to these questions, the best way to get them started is teaching them one-on-one, taking them through the arbitrator self-assessment and then through the arbitration process. If that's not possible, have them go through the steps on the Get Started with Arbitration page on this site, and review their first few batches with them, using the Share Batch feature, before they submit their work.

Are there presentations I can use to train indexers in my stake?

The tutorials and other materials in the Help Resources can be used for presentation in a classroom setting. You will find printable handouts as you go through the lessons. Additionally, the stake indexing director page on LDS.org has many printable resources that can be used for training purposes. You are also welcome to create your own training materials as needed.

What is a redo batch?

A redo batch indicates that an indexer’s batch has been returned by an arbitrator for reindexing. For example, if an indexer doesn’t notice a second page in his or her batch and does not index it, the batch would be returned by the arbitrator for reindexing because it was incomplete. This action may delete all work done on that batch and sends the batch to a different person to index; the batch shows in the original indexer’s report as a redo batch. When you notice that an indexer frequently has redo batches, you may want to provide additional training.

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Can I generate reports about how my group is doing?

Yes. You can run a number of different reports to see the indexing work being done in your group. Get step-by-step instructions for running these reports here.

Can I generate separate reports for subgroups?

You can run a group-level report that will show the work done in each group separately. You can then export it in a file that you can break apart to send to groups separately in HTML, PDF, CSV, or XLS format. 

The indexing system sometimes runs slowly on Sundays. What can we do to mitigate these issues and continue working?

Sometime prior to Sunday, or early Sunday morning when fewer people are online, download as many batches as you would like to index later in the day. Then you can work offline for the rest of the day and not be affected by slow indexing servers. Be sure not to let the batches expire that you worked on while offline; any information you indexed while offline is not saved to the indexing server and could be lost if the batch is not saved or submitted.

Is there a way from within the indexing application for indexers to get in touch with me?

Yes. An indexer can find your contact information under the Help menu (click Contact Support, and then look under Local Support). If you do not appear on the list, they should check their profile to make sure they are in the correct group, and you should make sure that you are an administrator of that group under the indexing Administration tab. If you are not assigned as an administrator, contact FamilySearch Support so you can be added.

How do I help people become arbitrators?

First, be sure they are ready to become arbitrators. Are they familiar with the basic indexing guidelines? Do they have experience indexing many kinds of projects of differing difficulty levels? (2,000 records is a good start.) Do they follow the instructions as given with each project? Do they enjoy deciphering handwriting on the records? If you can answer yes to these questions, the best way to get them started is teaching them one-on-one. If that's not possible, have them go through the steps on the Get Started with Arbitration page on this site, and review their first few batches with them, using the Share Batch feature, before they submit their work.

Are there presentations I can use to train indexers in my group?

The tutorials and other materials in the Help Resources can be used for presentation in a classroom setting. You will find printable handouts as you go through the lessons. You are also welcome to create your own training materials as needed.

What is a redo batch?

A redo batch indicates that an indexer’s batch has been returned by an arbitrator for reindexing. For example, if an indexer doesn’t notice a second page in his or her batch and does not index it, the batch would be returned by the arbitrator for reindexing because it was incomplete. This action deletes all work done on that batch and sends the batch to a different person to index; the batch shows in the original indexer’s report as a redo batch. When you notice that an indexer frequently has redo batches, you may want to provide additional training.

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How do I access the indexing software?

  1. Download the indexing program from the Get Started page.
  2. Click Run or Open to begin the installation.
  3. Locate the FamilySearch indexing icon on your desktop, and double click the icon to open the program.
  4. Click Register for a New Account, and follow the steps to get registered, or sign in to your FamilySearch or LDS Account.

I downloaded the program. How do I access it?

Installing the indexing program should add an indexing icon to your desktop. Double-click the icon to open the program.

I can't find the icon on my desktop. Now what?

Do a search for "indexing" on your computer to see if it was saved somewhere else. The location of your computer's search function depends on your operating system.

  • For Windows 7 and earlier, click the Start button in the bottom left corner of the screen, and use the search box there.
  • For Windows 8, when you are on the Start page, just start typing, and the search box will appear.
  • For Macs, open Finder, and use the search box in the upper right.
If you still can't find the indexing application, go back to the Get Started page, and download it again.

I don't have a good Internet connection so the program won't download. What do I do?

If you have a local administrator, he or she can create a CD copy of the program and bring it to you to install on your computer. If you’re not sure who your local administrator is, contact Support, and they can give you that information.

If I can’t sign in with my username, should I register for a new account?

No, do not create a new account when you’ve forgotten your username. Your account has certain information tied to it, such as your history, roles, and preferences, that would be lost if you signed up for a new account. Additionally, if you are LDS, only one account can be linked to your LDS membership information. If clicking the Forgot username? link does not help, please contact Support.

I forgot my password. How can I find out what it is?

On the screen where you sign in is a Forgot password? link. Click that link, and follow the prompts to reset your password. If you have problems, please contact Support.

I tried to retrieve my password but never got the email. Now what?

Be sure to check in any junk mail folder to make sure that the email didn’t go there. If you still don’t see it there, contact Support. Also, if your personal email account has changed since registering, the system will not be able to send you the necessary instructions until you contact Support to update your account.

I'm trying to submit a batch, but the program won't allow it. What do I do?

A number of things could keep the program from submitting a batch. In order for a batch to submit, the following requirements must be met:

  • You must be connected to the Internet.
  • All required fields must have information in them.
You must fix or approve any entries made that are flagged by the Quality Checker. (See the bottom right corner of the screen.) Be sure that the information in the fields matches what is requested, or verify that you indexed what you see on the record, and approve the entry. For more detailed information about problems submitting batches, see Unable to submit an indexing batch.

I received an error when opening the program. What do I do?

The indexing program should automatically update when you sign in. If it does not, delete all previous versions of the program. When finished, return to the Get Started page, and click Download. The current version of the program will be downloaded. If the error message persists, contact FamilySearch Support. To delete the indexing program from your system:

  • For Windows, go to the Control Panel on your computer. Select Programs and Features (or Add/Remove Programs on Windows XP), and uninstall all previous versions of the indexing program. Make sure all indexing desktop icons are deleted.
  • For Macs, open Finder; go to the Applications folder, and find the indexing program; then move the program to the Trash.

How do I change my language preferences?

From within the indexing program, click Tools, then Options, then Edit My Preferences. Select which languages you'd like to show when you download a batch; then click Save.

How can I view or adjust the ruler or highlights?

To show and adjust the highlights, click the View menu, and then click to put checks before Show Highlights and Adjust Highlights. Move the cursor to the image area, and you'll see a yellow grid of highlights with a thin red bounding border. You can move the red bounding border by clicking and dragging the red squares in the corners, or you can move the individual highlight squares. After you have adjusted the highlights, go back into the View menu, and uncheck Adjust Highlights. See Adjusting highlights in the indexing program for more information. To show the ruler, click the View menu, and then click to put a check before Show Ruler. To adjust the ruler size, click the top or bottom border of the ruler, and then drag the mouse up or down. To move the ruler, click the ruler itself, and drag it to a new location on the screen. If you don't see the ruler, click the View menu, and click Show Ruler to turn it on.

What if I don't have enough lines to index all the names on an image?

When you get to the end of a record, the system will usually ask, "How many records do you want to add to this image?" Enter the number of names you still have to index, and then click OK. The system will add that number of entry lines to the image. If the system doesn’t ask, or if you want to add additional lines between records you've already indexed, use the icons on the toolbar for inserting and deleting records. See Adding or deleting indexing lines (records) in a batch for more information.