Treehouse Data Entry Help Topics

Copy Data From Another Treehouse

This option allows you to copy the data from another one of your treehouse contributions into the form for the current treehouse. Using this feature can make things easier when you compose multiple treehouses that share content such as groups of authors, links to other pages or references.

Be aware that using this feature will replace any information you may already have entered in the current form. Therefore, you should copy data only when you first get started building your treehouse.

ToL Use Permitted by Copyright Owner

When you submit your treehouse to the ToL collection, you give the ToL permission to use your work in a variety of different ways. This option gives you the opportunity to specify whether your treehouse can be shared with other ToL contributors or with ToL partner collections. Click on the text next to a radio button to get a detailed explanation of each option, or review How will the Tree of Life use my work?.

Note that the options provided here regulate the use of your treehouse ONLY within the Tree of Life and collaborating projects (if you select option 3). If somebody wants to use your treehouse outside of the ToL context, they need to separately negotiate appropriate terms with the copyright owner.

Also note that the setting you select here applies only to the text and overall design of your treehouse. Any media files displayed in your treehouse are governed by a separate license, which is specified by the media contributor when the media file is uploaded to the ToL database.

Treehouse Contributors: Authors, Copyright Owners, and Correspondents

Here you can give credit to all the people who have participated in the building of your treehouse. By default, all contributors are listed as authors, copyright owners, and correspondents. Since a contributor may not want to wear all three of these hats, you can deselect any of the contributor options by clicking inside the corresponding boxes to make the check mark disappear.

Contributor Roles:

Copyright Date

The copyright date for your treehouse is automatically set to the year it was first published. If you substantially revise your treehouse, you can update the copyright date. This date should always be a four-digit number referring to the year in which the treehouse was created or updated (e.g 2005).

Acknowledgements for Treehouse Page

Here you can acknowledge any person or institution that has helped you in the creation of your treehouse.

Organism Names

Here we ask you to enter names for the organism(s) that your treehouse contribution is about. ToL visitors looking for information about a particular group of organisms will then be able to find your treehouse if it is relevant to the groups they are interested in. Scientific names are more precise and don't generally vary according to geographic location, language, culture etc. Therefore, it's most important to provide a list of accurate scientific names to be linked to your contribution.

What is a scientific name? How can I find out the scientific name of an organism? See help with scientific names for assistance.

The information in the Organism Names field complements your selections in the Attached to Group(s) of Organisms list below. When you attach your treehouse to a group of organisms, your contribution will automatically get linked to all the names that are stored for this group in the ToL database. For example, when you attach a treehouse to the group Coleoptera, it will also get linked to beetles, which is the common English name for Coleoptera, as well as some names in other languages, like Käfer and escarabajo.

The supplemental information in the Organism Names field is useful for two reasons:

  1. Some groups of organisms are not yet represented in the ToL project, so you cannot attach your contribution to the appropriate group. For example, if you have a contribution about the ladybug beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, you will find that the name of this species is not yet in the ToL database, and you will have to attach your treehouse to a more general group of beetles. However, if you add the name Coccinella septempunctata to the Organism Names field, people searching the ToL for information about Coccinella septempunctata will still find it, and when the name of this species is added to the ToL database sometime in the future, we will be able to attach your contribution to the more appropriate group.
  2. As a treehouse contributor you do not generally have control over the names that are listed for a given group in the ToL database. However, if you want to make sure that your contribution gets associated with a particular organism name, for example one that is used in the area where you live, you can enter this name into the Organism Names field.

Attached to Group(s) of Organisms

When you attach your treehouse to a group of organisms you are linking it to a ToL branch or leaf page. Once your treehouse is linked a ToL branch or leaf page it becomes accessible to Tree of Life visitors from the treehouses menu of that page. Your treehouse page will also contain page elements in the navigation bar from the primary group of organisms that you have attached your work to. For example, if you attach your treehouse to the Formicidae branch (Ants), your treehouse will have a link to the Formicidae branch page in the upper right corner, and it will share many of the same right sidebar menu items with the Formicidae page.

The Attached to Group(s) section of your Treehouse Data Entry Form features three main columns:

Attached to Group

Please attach your treehouse page to the group(s) of organisms in the Tree of Life to which it is most relevant. If you have a treehouse about a certain species and that species is represented in the ToL database, you should attach it to this species. If the species is not yet represented in the ToL database, you should attach your treehouse to the group that is closest to the species, e.g., the genus or the family to which the species belongs.

Before you click Add Group please visit Attaching your work to a Branch or Leaf of the Tree of Life. This page will provide you with assistance in figuring out where to attach your treehouse.

When you are ready to attach your treehouse to a group of organisms:

  1. Click on Add Group
    This will take you to a form that lets you search for names of groups in the Tree of Life database.
  2. Type in the scientific name of the group and click Find Groups
    • The search will first try to find an exact match for the name you typed in. If there is no exact match, it will try to find a partial match.
      • Depending on what you typed in for your search you may find nothing, you may get a long list of groups, or you may get exactly what you wanted. Since the Tree of Life project is still very much under construction, you will not always find a match for the group you are searching for.
    • If you have no luck with the name you typed in, you may try a shorter version to get a match for similar names.
      • For example, if you search for Dendrobates azureus, you won't get any results, because this species is not yet in the ToL database. The genus Dendrobates is, however, represented, and if you search for dendrob, you will get both Dendrobates and the family Dendrobatidae as partial matches.
    • For help see Where Should I Attach My Treehouse and Media Contributions? This page has advice on what to do if the group you are looking for is not yet represented in the ToL database. Help with Scientific Names. is also available.
  3. Check your search results.
    • When you get your search results, there will be links to the branch or leaf pages for the organisms linked to the matched names. You can click on these links to verify that you have found the appropriate group for attaching your treehouse.
    • Sometimes, the name you are looking for will be represented in the ToL database, but the group will not yet have a branch or leaf page attached to it. If this happens, your search will show the result like this:
      Gekkota *  (Squamata)
      The asterisk * next to Gekkota indicates that Gekkota does not yet have a branch page, but that it is represented as a subgroup on the Squamata (Lizards and Snakes) page. In this case, the Squamata branch page is as close as you are going to get to the group you want (at least for the time being), and your work should be attached to the Squamata.
  4. Once you have confirmed that you have the right group, click the select link next to the group name.
    • This will take you back to the Treehouse Data Entry Form, where you should now see the group you chose in the Attached to Group(s) of Organisms list. When you save and preview your page you should see a links to the pages you attach your treehouse to in the right sidebar menu.
  5. If your treehouse contains information about more than one group of organisms, you can attach it to all the relevant branches and leaves; just select another group by repeating steps 1-4. If you will attach your page to more than one group please see Selecting a Primary Group below. Also, if you have added a group, and then change your mind, you can delete it from the list by clicking on the Remove Group link next to the group name.
Selecting a Primary Group

As the default the first group of organisms that you attach your treehouse to will be selected as the primary group. If you are attaching your treehouse to more than one group of organisms, you will need to choose one of the groups as the primary group. You can change the selection of the primary group by checking the radio button next to the group that you want to serve as your treehouse's primary group.

The primary group you attach you work to will be seen as prominent link at the top of the right sidebar of your treehouse page. Also, the menus in the right sidebar of your treehouse will feature links to other ToL pages providing information about the primary group and its relatives. Links to the pages of the other, non-primary groups you have attached your work to will be in the linked pages menu in the right sidebar of your treehouse page. Of course, the branch or leaf pages for all the groups to which you attach your treehouse will feature a link to this treehouse in their treehouses menu.

To view some examples of how you might choose a primary group see Attaching your work to a Branch or Leaf of the Tree of Life.

Show Link in Treehouses Menu

Most of the time, you will want to have your treehouse shown in the treehouses menus of all the branches and leaves to which it is attached. However, sometimes there may be too many treehouses attached to a branch or leaf, or several treehouses may be closely related to one another, and it would make sense to combine them into something like a treehouse neighborhood. In these cases, the treehouses menu should then feature links only to the main treehouse neighborhood page, which will provide further links to all the individual treehouse pages that make up the neighborhood. If you want to keep individual treehouses from showing up in treehouses menus, you can remove the check mark from their box in the Show Link in Treehouses Menu column.

For example: Parmelia Sulcata composes a treehouse game called Lizard Phylogeny Fun that has a main neighborhood page with links to ten game card pages on different lizard species. Parmelia then attaches the main Lizard and Snake Phylogeny Fun page as well as the individual game card pages to the Squamata (Lizards and Snakes) branch. Since she only wants the main page to show up in the treehouses menu, she clicks in the boxes in the Show Link in Treehouses Menu column to remove the check marks for the individual game cards.

Short Title

The text you enter here will be used for the browser window title of your treehouse page and for links to your treehouse page in the treehouses menu. This should be short, about 2-4 words.

Full Title

The text you enter here will be used to create the heading for your treehouse page. This heading can be longer than the short title, and it should give visitors a good idea of the content of your treehouse.

Compose Treehouse Page Text

You should enter the content of your treehouse into this field. Web pages are created with a code called HTML. We provide the ToL Easy Editor to write the HTML for you. However, you can also write you own HTML code if you would like, either by turning off the Easy Editor or by clicking the Easy Editor's HTML button.

The Easy Editor Toolbar

Use the buttons and menus in the Easy Editor's toolbar to format text and insert images and media (without writing HTML).

If you hold your mouse over each button, you will see the button's function. Pull down the menus to see the formatting options that are available.
See The ToL Easy Editor for detailed assistance with how to use buttons and menus of the Easy Editor.

What if the Easy Editor is not Working?

Add Media to Your Treehouse

Insert images with the ToL Easy Editor
  1. Click on the place you want the image or media file to go in the text box.
  2. Click on the insert image button in the Easy Editor toolbar to insert an image and click on the insert media button to insert a sound, movie or document.
  3. Search for an image or media file to insert. When you find the file you want in the results window, click select to insert the image or media file into the text box. *For images if you click on "options" from the image results window you can select a size for your image. The default size is 250px high.
  4. To format images that have been inserted, first click on the image, then use the image formatting buttons (located next to the insert image button).
  5. The copyright information and scientific name will be automatically added underneath the image. By clicking in front of the copyright information, you can also add a caption explaining what the image is about, the type of organism featured in the image, or other relevant information.
  6. *Note that to delete an image you must click on it first and then click the delete button . Note also that if you do not like where you have placed an image in your page that you should delete it first and then re-insert it in your preferred location.
  7. Add images and media to your treehouse when the ToL Easy Editor is not working by following the steps for adding media below.
Insert images and other media (sounds, movies and documents) without the Easy Editor
  1. Click the "Add Media" button to search for media in the ToL database.
  2. Next, locate the Media File ID#. You can locate the ID# of the Media file in the media search results window.
  3. To insert images, type TOLIMG and the the ID# of the image file. For sounds, movies and documents, type TOLMEDIA and the ID# of the sound, movie or document file in the text box where you would like the image or media file to appear. For example: TOLIMG1234 or TOLMEDIA1234
  4. Add copyright information directly after the place you have added the media file. You will find copyright information in the media search window. For example, for images write: TOLIMG1234 and for other media write: TOLMEDIA1234
  5. You can also add a caption explaining what the image is about, the type of organism featured in the image, or other relevant information.
  6. Shrink an image by writing the ToL code for images plus a size. For example: TOLIMG1234SIZE100. You can shrink images in increments of 50px, down to a height of 100px.

Finally, click save and preview to see if the media file appears the way you want it to.

Modifying images:

If the image that you want to use in your page turns out to be unsatisfactory in some manner, depending on the ToL use model of the image, you may be able to modify the media file to your specifications. For now, see Copyright Issues and Getting Media to Add to Your Treehouse for more information.

Restricted images/media: Please note that some ToL contributors have reserved the use of their media only for specific purposes, so you will not be able to use any media file in the ToL collection for your treehouse. Your search for media will only find media that has been released by their copyright owners for use anywhere on the ToL. However, if you try and use a restricted image or media file in your treehouse you will not be able to save and preview your page and there will be an error message telling you that your tried to use a restricted image or media file.

Uploading (Adding) New Media Files to the ToL Database

If you would like to upload new media to the ToL database you can:

Once media files are uploaded to the ToL database they can be found by clicking the Add Image or Add Media buttons. You can also keep a record of images you have uploaded with a worksheet for keeping a record of image ID numbers and copyright information.

Related links:

Adding Media


In the References section you should include any references that you have cited in your text. You can also list any books, articles or other resources that may be of interest to people looking for more information on the topics covered in your treehouse. For example, if you wrote a page on whales, and you have a lot of great books and videos on this topic we would appreciate if you could share the reference information for these resources. Note that internet links should go in a separate section below.

Please separate your references with carriage returns (click enter/return to produce a line break between each reference). Each entry will be formatted into a paragraph with a hanging indent, so please do not use carriage returns (click enter/return) within a reference. Also, please do not use paragraph tags or any other HTML markup in the References field.

Information on the Internet

Here you can list other web sites that are relevant to the content of your treehouse. You should include any sites that you have cited in your text along with other online resources that may be of interest to people looking for more information about the topics covered in your treehouse.

For each site in your list, you should provide the url (web address) and the name of the site or web page. You can also add comments about the content of the site. Use the Add Fields button to generate fields for additional web sites.

Treehouse Type

In this section you can assign additional treehouse types to your work. If you select more than one treehouse type for your page, visitors who search on treehouse type will find your page in each category that you have assigned to your treehouse. For example, if you choose to give your treehouse the investigation, story and teacher resource treehouse types, visitors will find your page listed under all three categories. You may choose as many categories as you think apply to your page and that would help others find what they are looking for when they search for treehouses.

ToL Learner Level

Here you can select any combination of the three levels that are listed: beginner, intermediate and advanced. These categories will help people find treehouses to visit that match their level of experience with the material that is presented in the page.



You can use the Notes field to communicate with Easy Editors and contributors about your treehouse. For example, you can write a note if there is something you think we should know about your page or if you have a question. You can also enter reminders for yourself or messages to your co-authors or Easy Editors.


Here you can enter any information about your treehouse that you think may be of interest but that is not covered in any of the other fields in this form. For example, you can provide information about why you chose your treehouse topic, how you figured out where to attach your page, who you think might be interested in your page, and any grade level information you think might be useful for teachers.

Add Portfolio Pages and Sections

You can only add ToL pages that you have authored or that you have permission to edit. Every time you add a link, a comments box will appear where you can tell visitors to your portfolio about the pages it contains. You can change the order of the portfolio page links that you add with the arrow buttons on the left. If you would like, you can add sections to your portfolio and then add portfolio page links to the sections that you create.

Edit Portfolio Page Links

After you add pages to your portfolio use the comments box to write explanations such as:

You can also add a thumbnail image that represents the page that you have added by clicking the add image button.

Export Data To Other Contributions you have Authored

Here you can choose to display some of the data sections of this portfolio on the pages that you include in the portfolio. You can export the following sections of this portfolio to pages you link to in the portfolio:

This feature is very helpful because you can enable several pages to share references, internet links and learning information without having to update each page. The portfolio page will serve as the master page, and if you make changes in the portfolio page to one of the sections you have exported, the pages in the portfolio will be updated. If a page you have included in the portfolio has its own learning information, internet links etc., both the information from the portfolio and the page's information will be displayed.

Save and Preview

You must click on the Save and Preview button at the bottom of the Treehouse Data Entry Form to save your work to the ToL Database. When you do this, a new browser window will open, and it will show you what the current version of your treehouse would look like if it were published. The preview you are getting is not on the actual live ToL web site; it's in a special preview and development part of the site, which is accessible only to Tree of Life authors and developers.

Don't close the treehouse data entry window without clicking Save and Preview first, or you will lose your work! Once you have clicked Save and Preview, you can safely close both the preview and treehouse editing windows.

Note that your connection to the ToL database will time out if you don't do anything (e.g., save and preview, attach to group, add a contributor) for about an hour, so if you decide to leave your computer or work on something else for a while, make sure to click Save and Preview before you go.


When you are satisfied with your page you should submit it for publication. Before you submit, you should make sure that your treehouse is attached to a group of organisms. This will link it to a ToL branch or leaf page, so visitors to the ToL can find it.

Once you click Submit for Publication, you will not be able to edit your treehouse until the ToL Learning Materials Editor approves it for publication. The Editor may get back to you with suggestions for improvements, and you will then be able to edit and fix up your page before submitting the revised version again for publication. When the Editor approves the final version of your treehouse, it will get published on the live ToL site, and you will receive an email with its URL (web address). Once the treehouse is published, you will be able to come back and update or improve it whenever you like. Each time you make a change, you will submit it for publication, and the Editor will review the latest version before putting it up on the live ToL site.