Which family tree chart should I use?
This get-started guide presents the different options to help you decide which family tree chart is best for you – whatever stage of family history research you’re at.
Perhaps the most recognisable family history chart, the pedigree chart allows you to see your ancestors at a glance, with yourself and your parents on the left of the page, and descending generations displayed working towards the right of the chart. Don’t worry about any gaps in the information, just enjoy filling in what you know and then the chart acts as a visual reminder of ancestors you’ve yet to find.
Once you get the genealogy bug you’re sure to want to continue back in time, moving from your great-grandparents down the centuries. If you’re a keen researcher with hundreds of ancestors, sooner or later you’ll want to invest in an eight-generation or ten-generation chart as a long-term project that can keep you busy for years!
This type of chart is perfect for anyone who’s getting started in family history or who likes a layout where the base individual (you) is listed at the bottom of the chart, with subsequent generations presented fan-style in a semi-circle or circle.
Whichever chart style you decide to go for, it’s useful to buy a working chart that you can use on the go, at archives and libraries. Use a pencil to note down details as you discover them and then you can transfer the names and dates to your main chart once you’re back at home. Look out for charts packaged in a keepsake tube – making them both portable and squash-proof!
Your main chart is your ‘deluxe’ version, where all your verified names and dates are kept. You can use this both as a work in progress and as a display piece, particularly if you choose an acid-free paper version so that it stands the test of time.
Want to get the next generation involved? Children are often drawn to charts designed around the shape of a tree, where ancestors are added to the branches, showing clearly the relationships between the different ancestors. Make it even more fun by adding on photos as well as names and dates.