Friday, June 30, 2017

Ancestry Citation Length Experiment

Have you ever had the family disappear off of the profile screen in an Ancestry tree?

I'd experienced it before but when I recently encountered it, I decided to seek guidance from one of my Facebook communities.

Armed with that response, I returned to my tree and, sure enough, there was a citation that had been uploaded with the original gedcom that could be considered 'lengthy'.

When I clicked on 'view', I could see most of the citation.

Clicking the 'Edit Source' button took me to a screen where I could hopefully make some changes to shorten the citation.

So I decided the easiest way to shorten the citation without losing some essential information was to remove some of the subtitling.

I then scrolled to the bottom of the page to locate the button to save the source.

That's when I got the dreaded 'We're Sorry' page

I've tried editing the source multiple times and it always comes to this page.

So, now I'm playing with a 'test' tree to see what happens when I delete the source. If I click the View button for the source, the source window opens. On this window is a 'Remove' button

After verifying that I indeed want to remove the source, the screen immediately reverts to the normal profile screen.

So, my Facebook 'friend' was correct --

There is a limit to the length of a citation on Ancestry!

I have called Ancestry on this issue since I want to know what that limit is. The support person I reached had not seen this issue before. She was very thorough in reviewing the problem and discovered another, potentially related issue: The person's name could not be searched but was in the list of people. My case is being reviewed and hopefully, I will find out the maximum length for a citation.


  1. Well done! I have had the same problem but never figured out the reason for it. Legacy Family Tree has a similar problem - it limits Footnotes (master + detail) to 255 characters. I'll bet Ancestry has the same character limit.

  2. Randy - I'm guessing you are correct with the 255 character limit. My next step is to change the citation in my RM tree and see if I can get the new one uploaded.

  3. Thanks so much for reporting on this, Marcia. I haven't seen this happen, but I will be quite frustrated when it does. And then I'll remember what you learned, I hope.

    Does your tree have multiple individuals citing that source?

    By the way, in your shoes, instead of uploading a shortened one from RM, I would manually create a fresh source in Ancestry with the shorter name and attach that to the profile. It's tedious, but probably easier than uploading a fresh Gedcom.

    1. Marian,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, the 'offending' citations would show up for multiple events and multiple individuals.

      Since I am using the TreeShare feature of RootsMagic, I am able to 'upload' the edited comment. Thus, I don't have to upload a gedcom file.

      Since I have a 'new tree' (due to upload for RootsMagic TreeShare), I have seen the long citation on multiple people. It is a pain to correct, but the screen magically changes as soon as that long citation is deleted.