When to [Blank] Fields

By Darci Crandall

In todays post we will discuss when fields should be “Blanked Out” and when they shouldn’t.


Have you ever typed a value into a field and the box turned red? Sometimes you open a project and the boxes are red to begin with – before you’ve started indexing!


The boxes turn red when:

(1) a field is a “required field” and nothing is keyed into it, or…

(2) whatever was keyed into the field doesn’t match the computer’s dictionary.

Required fields are highlighted in red until an entry is put into the field.

Does this mean that you’re wrong if you leave a Required field blank? No! Required fields are added to projects to help you know which fields should (almost always) have information available to be keyed. These fields indicate what information is most important, however every record is different, and may not have the same information available as other records.

In the example below, Ethelred II does not have a surname. The Surname field is a required field, but since no surname appears, it would be correct to mark the field blank.


The computer will make sure you double check any required fields that were left blank. You cannot move to the next image or complete the image set until all the red fields are marked okay.

If you are sure that what you left blank is correct, you should click the button that has a dash on it (or use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + B”). This will mark the field blank, telling the computer that it is okay that this required field is blank. The word [Blank] will appear in the field when you do this, and you will be able to move to the next image or complete the image set.



You only need to blank fields that were marked red by the dictionary. Do NOT¬†blank fields that were not flagged by the dictionary. (i.e. Please don’t mark all the empty¬†fields blank).

What not to do:


What to do:


Happy Keying!

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Reader Comments

Thank you for this post. I hope all keyers will read it and adher to the suggestion.
In the past reviewers have posted comments when all fields are entered “blank” time and time again. I believe some keyers blank all fields in one go and then fill in the information they have. For reviewers this is very frustrating because it makes reviewing more difficult and it is very tiering.

Thank you for this!
One edit I would add to this is that you didn’t explain where Ethelrod was F7’d – and that keyers should not F7 EVERYTHING, too! It’s at least as hard, if not harder, to review entries where everything is F7’d as it is to review entries where everything is blanked!

Thank you for this post and I also agree with the statement regarding F7 by Mary Ann Bittle. I hope this article along with her comment about F7 are read and taken to heart by other transcribers. I both transcribe and arbitrate and I do my darnedest to follow the directions, which I keep open in the background, and wish others would too.

Thank you for the reminder. The template for the project I started on contains fields that are not contained on the pages from which I am transcribing (Example; City, State, Township) My understanding, is that I leave said fields alone unless the dictionary prompts me to mark as blank during the review process. Correct?
Another question: The original document contains ages of the persons listed. Is there a way to add this field to the template. If so, should I?