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Qualitative or quantitative characters can be created. If you switch the type of character from one to the other all existing codings will be deleted.


Create a new character by clicking the New character link.

  • Name – The character name. Will be used in web and document (print) display. Whitespace allowed
  • Short Name – Used in web display, particularly when displaying matrix data.
  • Cited in – A ajax picklist that records the reference this character was first cited in. If you don’t have any references added to your project there will be nothing to pick from here. The reference picklist is built by searching against the string you start to type in the text box (it need not be the start of the string).
  • Cited on page – The page which the character is cited on if Cited in is filled
  • Cited state char – The state (generally a number) given to the character in its published form.
  • Document character – The number given to the character as found in print form (what you want to number the character when you publish it).
  • Document character description – Text to print when publishing particular to the Character in general.
  • Syn with – A link to another character- one which you feel is homologous? or which you’d rather point to when this character is displayed
  • Create in group – You can add characters to as many character groups as you want. When you first create the character you can chose one. You can add the character to additional groups in the Groups + templates tab.

Once the character has been created you can add as many states as you want to it. Do this by clicking on the Show link from the character list. Show

This view is primarily to add and remove character states. You can delete a state by clicking the x*. To edit the states or state labels click on Edit for the present character. You can add a new state by filling out the four fields beside *Add new:

  • State – the state code (e.g. 0,1,2 or A,B,C – any state code can be used, including multiple letters)
  • Name – the textual name of this state
  • Cited polarity – if this state has been published, what was polarity was listed for it.
  • Notes – Anything you wish to add


You can edit any of the states, or the character itself by clicking Edit for the given character. More than one state can be changed at once this page.

A list of characters that this current character is coded for is provided at the bottom of the show view. Click on any of the OTUs listed there to show that OTU. Merge

There are some tricks to this and you should use it with caution! Please test on a smaller non-important dataset until you fully understand what it does.

When a character has more than two state a Merge form will appear when you edit that character. Use this form too merge (= collapse) two states to a single one.

So how does this work?

Say you have a character with existing states 1, 2, and 3- the following will then happen:

take state and state change both to with name RESULT REASON
1 2 1 foo PASS
1 2 3 bar FAIL state 3 exists, collapse 1 and 2 first (to say 4) then 3 and 4 to collapse all states to 3
1 2 0 none FAIL you didn’t give a new name for your character state
1 2 a blorf PASS you need not merge the states to one of the previous states!

When you merge two states you delete all codings of those states and replace them with a single copy of the new state. For instance if your OTU is coded 2,3 and you replace 2,3 with 0 your OTU will now be coded for 0.


  • When I click show and then try to navigate forward or back to another character it won’t work.
    • You need to reset your character ordering codes. Click ‘List all’ from characters then ‘reset position’
  • In list view, why are some or all of my characters red?
    • A red highlighted character indicates that no state for that matrix has been used in any OTU coding, i.e. the character is not being used in a matrix.
  • Is there a way to mark a character as additive within the nexus or tnt file? Or do i have to always set them as additive when I open the matrix?
    • At present there is no way to do this in MX, though its a feature we’ll likely add in the future.
  • How can I input my character data to MX?
    • Besides adding it manually (see above) we may also be able to load it for you if you can provide the following types of tables.

Table R (References) If you have references you want to associate you characters with those need to be added first. At minimum we need this:

reference_ID full citation
1 Jones, A. 1980. Some citation here. Journal. Etc.

The reference IDs can come from wherever, they need to be unique, they will be associated with the characters in table C (below). Table C (Characters)

char_id Character Name reference_id Notes
1 Head color 1 This character isn’t very good because color fades in dead specimens.

The last table contains character states:

Table S (Character states)

char_id State Code State Name Notes
1 0 red As seen in Fus barus
1 1 black As seen in Blorfus malorfus

We may also be able to handle your date in a format like the following (we’ll script out the important parts). state_code is a single “word” (any code < 8 letters) and state_name can be any number of words.

char_name: some name here char_ref: Full citation here. state: state_code state_name state: state_code state_name

As for other forms, if they are uniform and consistent (and there is enough data) we can take a stab at parsing them for you.


When you add images to a character state these will show up in public when the character is published. Captions belonging to the image are unique for this instance. For example if you caption a figure in Images that caption does not appear for a figured chr.

If the image is a mb_image you can add links to morphbank annotations, single image show or collection. These will then link from the public/chr as well as in the chr.


You can tag a character for all sorts of information and keywords as defined in the Tags tab. Just as a hint while working through characters any issues can be tagged and noted, then viewed in a list under the Tag tab.

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