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Understanding Genealogy Numbering Systems

A question about genealogy numbering systems was recently posted to the online Legacy User Group:

What is the difference between Register & Modified Register Reports?

When printing a descendant book from Legacy, there are two possible formats - Modified Register, and Register. These options are found on the Descendant Book Report Options screen.

There are a couple of minor differences. From Richard A. Pence's article, "Numbering Systems in Genealogy," we learn that the register system is

the formal numbering system used by U.S. journals and, by long use in these respected journals it, along with its kin, the Record System [or Modified Register system], has become the 'standard' system. In it, the progenitor or other focal individual is given the number 1. Each child in that family is then numbered in order of birth with lower-case Roman numerals, and those whose lines are carried on in the work as also given an Arabic number.

[The Modified Register System] varies from the Register System in that each individual is given an Arabic number regardless of whether the line is subsequently carried on. A plus mark (+) prior to the Arabic number is used to indicate the person had descendants and more information can be found later in the work.

Legacy's descendant charts also have different numbering systems from which to choose:

  • Generation numbers
  • Henry numbers
  • d'Aboville numbers
  • de Villiers numbers

All of these numbering systems are very well explained at

The nice thing is that Legacy automatically sets up these systems for you. Imagine how fun this would have been in the B.C. days (Before Computers).


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I am a big fan of the Henry numbering system. I wish Legacy had a feature that allowed users to select a starting ancestor and then automatically generate Henry (or other) numbers in the "User Id" field.

I have gone to the 'descendant book report option screen' and fail to find where I can change the number system to d Aboville or de Villiers or if your's is the Henry Modified (Pence) system...what have I missed? -caron-

These other numbering systems are only available in the Descendant Chart reports. They are not available in the books.

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