How to make a genealogy chart?

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How to make a genealogy chart?

Tonya Jones

A genealogy chart, also known as an ancestry chart, family chart or pedigree chart, is a record of the descent of a person or family from an ancestor or ancestors. It is very important to know your genealogy for health purposes first and foremost. Secondly, it is always good to know who your family members are, and where they originated from for self-awareness. A genealogy chart can be as simple as a list of family members’ names. And it can get as complex to include dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial. These charts usually show between three and five generations in different formats.

There are many different types of genealogy charts and they all serve different purposes.

  • All-in-One Tree: shows ancestors, descendants and cousins. It is a good way to visualize everyone at once, but can get confusingly large.
  • Ancestor Tree
  • Standard Chart: is more compact showing the starting individual at the left, and the ancestors branching off to the right.
  • Fan Chart: shows the starting individual in the middle of a circle, and the ancestors branching out in all directions.
  • Vertical Chart: shows the starting individuals with ancestors branching upwards.
  • Descendant Tree
  • Fan Chart: shows the first generation as the center circle, and each generation of descendants branching out into a larger circle.
  • Standard Chart: is more compact and shows the starting individual at the top, and descendants branching off downward.
  • Hourglass Tree: shows the starting individual in the middle with parents and grandchildren above, and children and grandchildren below.
  • Outline Descendant Tree (Chart): shows the starting individual descendants in a compact outline format without boxes. Each successive generation is indented a little farther to the right. It works well in a family history book because it takes up less space.
  •  Timeline Chart: uses bars to show each person’s lifespan to see who was living in a certain year, and whose lifetimes overlapped.
  • Waterfall  Chart: shows descendants cascading down from upper left to lower right.

There are six easy steps involved in creating the most accurate family tree possible.

  1. Start with what you know: Write down dates and names of all the people you know. If you do not know exact dates and places, estimate them. Circle missing or incomplete information, and decide what you want to find first. It is easier if you use genealogy software, and you can download it for free at
  2. Interview relatives: Older relatives are a great source for detailed genealogy information. Be sure to ask for any birth and/or death certificates they may have access to beforehand. You should record conversations because it may be difficult to write everything down.
  3. Research: After getting information from relatives you now have enough to research for more details.  You can get vital information from census records, wills, deeds, military records, marriage and divorce records, as well as adoption records (if applicable). To gain access to these records you can do a goggle search on the internet or check your local library.
  4. Photographs: Go through family photos and identify relatives from the records you collected. Match a face with as many family members as possible.
  5. Genealogy Websites: When you reach a point in your research (usually after four or more generations) you may find very little documents exist in the public arena. Family search centers will have more detailed historical information., and the Mormon church has the largest free database of family genealogy. You can locate a search centers near you at; an affiliate of
  6. Input Into Software: After all the research is completed input the remaining information into your genealogy software. You can create an album with stories and photos. If you really want to be creative, you can go as far as to make copies and have it bound.      
0 is a free site, where you can learn the basics of creating a family tree. Simply register and follow the easy instructions. Take advantage of the free printable generations chart (a type of family tree) and the free printable family group data worksheet. Both will help you manage the information you collect from family members and other sources. is a free Q&A forum, owned by You can post a query and search the message boards. is free and may be of some help. Since you’re creating the tree, you get to choose. I suggest you keep it simple, at first. Start with your mom and work backwards through your grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, etc. Ask relatives if someone has already charted a tree. Perhaps, he/she wil

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