GEDCOM is an abbreviation that stands for GEnealogy Data COMmunications. In short, GEDCOM is the language by which different genealogy software programs talk to one another. The purpose is to exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard.

GEDCOM is a standard, not a program. As such, genealogy programs that are going to use the same data have to be written by the programmers to handle GEDCOM files. If you are trying to transfer data from one program to another, only to discover that only one of the programs supports GEDCOM, you are out of luck. Instead, both programs have to support GEDCOM.

All of today’s major genealogy programs will import and export GEDCOM data. The instructions for creating or reading GEDCOM files will vary from one program to another. You need to consult the program’s Help files to find the exact sequence of instructions your genealogy program requires.

This is an excerpt of the article, “GEDCOM Explained,” that is found in the Ancestry Learning Center.

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