Editor's note: This is the third in a series of articles on the New FamilySearch
SALT LAKE CITY — So, how do you get started on New FamilySearch?Don't turn on your computer just yet. Unless you have a great memory, you'll want to stop by the clerk's office first.1. RegisterNew FamilySearch requires you to register before using the site. You'll need both an LDS Church membership record number and a confirmation date to create a username and password.Current temple recommends list membership numbers, but not confirmation dates. So if you can't remember the date you were confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a ward or branch clerk can provide the information.2. ExploreThe main feature of the site is the family tree. By clicking on "Me and My Ancestors," you'll be taken to your personal branch.New FamilySearch offers two ways to view the tree. The "Family Pedigree with Details" option allows you to follow a family line and view detailed information on the same page. The "details" section includes a summary of the individual, a list of contributing sources, LDS ordinances, and a time line and map showing when and where significant life events occurred.The "Family Tree" view is a more versatile option. You can build your tree by clicking on the right-facing arrows — continually extending and bending the pedigree until you reach the end of a line.This view allows for a rather large display of branches. As the tree gets bigger, you can zoom in and out, and pan across, up and down the screen.Two handy options allow you to look forward and backward with one click. The "show ancestors" option displays the preceding three generations for a highlighted individual. The "show descendents" option allows you to walk the tree in the opposite direction."That allows me to see where the lines have extended," said Craig Miller, director of member needs for the Family History Department.3. AnalyzeBy navigating your tree, you'll see what's intact — and what's amiss.An icon next to each name indicates the status of the individual's temple work. A check mark means the work is complete. An exclamation point indicates that work is in progress, while a lock means that someone has it reserved.If you see an arrow, there is work to do.New FamilySearch allows you to click on that arrow and print out an ordinance request to take to the temple. This prevents anyone else from doing that same ordinance."In progress" ordinance requests will indicate who is pursing the work, something you wouldn't have known before New FamilySearch."At least you now know who has it," said Tim Cross, a product manager for New FamilySearch.4. CleanOnce you've seen what's there, it's time to start cleaning up your tree. Merging duplicate records that have accumulated in the system reduces clutter and confusion.Under the "details" section of a highlighted name, you'll see how many records have been submitted for that one individual. You may be surprised how much duplication there is, especially if you have pioneer ancestry.New FamilySearch has automatically merged many of the duplicate records, but in some cases it's left to the individual to make the right conclusions.The "possible duplicates" option allows you to search the database for records that may refer to the same person. You can then compare them side-by-side, determine whether they are the same individual and, when appropriate, merge the records."Once someone concludes that it is the same person, all the subsequent individuals don't have to go through that same process," Cross said. "Now we're making progress together as a whole."5. ConnectIn other cases, your ancestors may not be connected to your tree. You can add missing parents, children or siblings by searching the database for existing individuals (by either name or number) or by adding a new individual.You will be asked to cite the source when adding a new individual. Information taken from primary sources, such birth or death records, is ideal, but there are also options for "family possession" or "memory of someone."Cross encourages users to "look before (they) load" new information."In a lot of cases, it's already there," Cross said.Because the "details" section for an individual may comprise several entries, you may find conflicting information — such as a name spelling or birth date. Only the contributor is allowed to edit the information he or she submitted, but there is an option to "dispute" what you think may be incorrect. An icon will designate disputed information.6. CollaborateYou'll notice in the "details" section that information about an individual often comes from multiple "contributors."By clicking on the source, you may find contact information for someone who has researched your ancestors."I'm meeting new relatives all the time through this system," Miller said.The "Temple Ordinances" tab contains a queue that acts like an electronic card box for tracking ordinance requests that you have processed. You'll be able to see if a request is on hold, not printed, printed or completed.This is especially helpful when family ordinance requests are passed on for the work to be performed by other family members. It provides a fast and simple way to follow up."Electronically (it) just greases the skids and it's much more engaging for families now," Cross said.