Family tree charts come in all shapes and sizes. Fan charts, bowtie charts, and the popular portrait charts are just a few of the many options. Many of our favorite genealogy software and apps allow us to create a printed version of our family tree. Creating and printing a beautiful family tree chart can bring a little sunshine into your own family tree!
Free Family Tree Charts at FamilySearch
FamilySearch Family Tree is free and available to everyone. When you have created your free account and add your family tree data, you are given four family tree viewing options. These options include the landscape, the fan, the portrait, and the descendancy views. Each of these viewing options are available to download or print in chart form.
I really like the portrait chart. If you have many pictures of your ancestors, I think you will love this option. To see the portrait view, click on the second icon at the top left of the family tree screen.
Landscape view of family tree at FamilySearch
At the new screen, you will see the look of your family tree has changed. This is the portrait view. If you would like to print or download the chart, simply click the print icon at the right of the screen. This will open a default screen where you have the option to rotate, print, and download the chart.
Portrait view of family tree at FamilySearch
Some of my friends have downloaded their charts to a thumb drive and then taken them to Staples or Office Depot to print them in poster size. Isn’t that neat? What a great way to share the family history at your next family reunion!
Family Tree Charts at MyHeritage
MyHeritage has always had a nice assortment of family tree chart options. One of my favorites is the “bowtie chart.” This bowtie chart shows the main person in the center next to their spouse. Ancestors are on either side, and their children are below. With eighteen style options, you can be sure to find one that is perfect for you.
Bowtie Chart by MyHeritage
MyHeritage offers some free access and some things that require a subscription. Creating a free account allows you to create a family tree with 250 people. By upgrading to the PremiumPlus subscription level for $9.95, you are unlimited in the number of people in your family tree. To read more about the pricing and subscription level differences and access our digital MyHeritage Cheat Sheet, click here.
Recently, MyHeritage added a beautiful Sun Chart option. Like in all cases, you must first upload a GEDCOM or create a family tree file. A Sun Chart is a type of descendant fan chart, however, unlike other’s it supports photos. The main person or couple is displayed in the center and the descendants are shown in the outer rings.
To create your own Sun Chart, click Family Tree at the top and choose Print charts & books from the pull-down menu. At the new screen, choose whichever chart you are interested in printing. In this case, I chose the Sun Chart.
By scrolling down, you can customize your Sun Chart with a title, specific facts for each individual, photo size, and number of generations.
I customized my settings to large pictures size and included only three generations.
Sun Chart by MyHeritage
It may take several minutes for your chart to be generated. I had to wait about twenty minutues. MyHeritage also allows you to download, print, and even order a poster size of your chart directly from their website.
Create a Family Chart Today!
Whether you decide to share your family tree chart creation via email or printed poster, it will be sure to be a big hit. We would love to hear about your own favorite family tree chart creations and how you have shared them. Please let us know about them in the comments below.
More Gems on Family Tree Charts
Family Tree Builder for Mac Users
Alternate Family Trees Offer Unique Perspective to Family History
3 Ways to Talk About DNA at Your Next Family Reunion
Use an “alternate family tree” to emphasize unique or interesting patterns in your family history, such as eye or hair color, birthplace, age at death, or adoption. Here’s how to do it–and WHY.
Alternate family trees are popping up all over social media and genealogy blogs. Have you seen them? Some trees emphasize the age at death, cause of death, or birthplace for each individual.
There can be tremendous value to creating trees like these. Recognizing patterns can help tear down brick walls. Imagine a pedigree chart with birth places instead of names. It’s a new way to see migration patterns. I also love the a-ha moments I have! For example, the time I realized my hair and eye coloring likely came from my maternal great-grandmother who I have a special connection with.
I can share these quick “did you know” revelations with my relatives on social media (totally shareable images!) or at family reunions. Images are often more powerful than words because they are easy to glance over. Your family won’t be able to resist taking a look, and most importantly, sharing your tree images with other family members. Shared images can generate new information when shared with the right relative. Hey, here’s an idea: you could even blow up your alternate family tree to poster size for the next family reunion!
Take a look at these examples of my own alternate family trees for age at death (left) and birthplace (right).
Other alternate family trees may focus on occupations, schooling, or color of eyes or hair.
I was inspired to create an alternate family tree that had significance to my own immediate family. We have a lot of adoption in our family tree. My three children are adopted, my husband is adopted, and several of my great-grandparents were raised by other family members. This is a unique perspective. Blood lines are important, but even more important are those people who influenced my family the most as caregivers.
I created a pedigree that indicates who, if anyone, the father and mother figures were. Take a look:
Did you notice that every set of my great-grandparents had one or more parent die or abandon them? I was shocked to see this significant ancestral dynamic. I had never considered the likely effect of such a family tree. It was fascinating!
How to Create an Alternate Family Tree
The easiest way to create an alternate family tree is to use a genealogy software program. I use RootsMagic. RootsMagic is a genealogy software program for PC and Mac computers. (Note: To use RootsMagic on your Mac computer, you will need to use the MacBridge add-on.) You can purchase the full version of RootsMagic for $29.95 or you can use the RootsMagic Essentials for free!
There are two ways to make an alternate family tree using RootsMagic. You can start from scratch or use the wall chart report.
Starting from Scratch
To start a new pedigree:
- click the “blank sheet of paper” icon at the top left. Name your tree with a title that will indicate its purpose. (Example: Age-at-Death Tree)
- Instead of using the names of your ancestors, use whatever alternate pieces of information you wish in the name fields.
- Now, you simply click “Reports” across the top and choose “Pedigree.” You can generate the report and print out your new alternate tree.
Using an Existing Tree
If you already have your tree on RootsMagic, you can use the Wall Chart feature to create trees with unique data.
As an example, if I wanted to create an occupation family tree, I would first need to enter that data for each person by clicking on the individual and then “Add a Fact.” From the drop-down list, choose “occupation.” Type in the occupation in the description field at the right and click “Save.”
Add the occupation to each individual and when you are ready to print your alternate family tree, simply take the following steps in the image below.
After taking these six steps, it is time to “Generate Report.” You will be taken to a new screen where you will see your creation.
Once you have completed your alternate tree, it’s a great idea to print it and lay it out in front of you. You might ask yourself, “What does this information tell me?” The interpretation of the data will be unique for everyone. Maybe your “Cause of Death Tree” will make you think, “Oh no! I should really be watching my heart health!”
I hope that you will take the opportunity to create an alternate family tree or two today. Genealogy Gems Premium website members who like this idea will also want to listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast #136, due out later this month. In that episode, Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard goes in depth on the value of gathering family health history.
How does this view of your family tree make you feel?
We love to hear from you so leave your feelings or comments below,
and please feel free to share your alternate family tree on our Facebook page!
More Family Tree and RootsMagic Gems
Sharing our family history in displays around the house inspires conversation, reinforces our family’s sense of identity and can also create beautiful surroundings! Here are some of my favorite picks for inspired heritage home decor that will help you “walk the talk”. Pick one up as a holiday gift or one for your own home–or both!
Family Tree Wall Decor
I love how this gorgeous black tree design anchors a heritage wall display. They use current pictures of kids and grandkids, but I think it would also look great with older pictures of ancestors. Sometimes when your heritage photos are all different sizes and styles (and you don’t have a dozen matching frames) it’s hard to figure out how to hang them together. But as you can see, the display looks great with different size images and frames!
Bronze Family Tree Picture Frame (6 photos)
This compact, stylish and ornamental design fits easily on a coffee or end table or even a fireplace mantel. The tree comes with 6 little frames: order an extra set of 4 here. Again, think of this as a great way to show off pictures of your children or grandchildren, or use it to display treasured images of ancestors.
Order Additional Picture Frames
Crafting a Meaningful Home: 27 DIY Projects to Tell Stories, Hold Memories and Celebrate Family Heritage by Meg Mateo Ilasco.
If you like to make your own heritage displays, this book is for you. It’s packed with inspired ideas and detailed instructions on how to make things like decoupaged plates, a memory wall and silhouettes on canvas. The projects shown are all really adaptable to fit your supplies and style. Meg thinks “out-of-the-box” about ways to preserve and show memories–way beyond the traditional framed pictures which are great but may not express the creative side of some of us.
Espy Photo Frames (styles vary). This link will take you to my own store, where I offer these one-of-a-kind frames, exclusive to Genealogy Gems. The images, though nice, don’t do these frames justice. The edges are encrusted with original vintage jewelry pieces, antique mini-artifacts, pearls and beads and other little surprises. The openings can hold a mirror but also make a fabulous home for heritage photos. The frames draw the eye and hold it: nobody will miss this display and whatever loved one’s image holds a place of honor in it. Check out all the styles on my site after you click on the link above.
Need more ideas? Check my boards at Pinterest: Lisa Louise Cooke
Family History Craft Projects
Get inspired by these heritage home decor ideas! Sharing family history in displays around the house inspires conversation, reinforces your family’s identity, and creates beautiful surroundings. Genealogy gift ideas: give these as gifts for your loved ones’ homes (or get them as gifts for yourself).
4 Heritage Home Decor Ideas
Family Tree Wall Decor
I love how this gorgeous black tree design anchors a heritage wall display. This design would look great with current pictures of grandkids and other loved ones, or with older pictures of ancestors. Sometimes when your heritage photos are all different sizes and styles (and you don’t have a dozen matching frames) it’s hard to figure out how to hang them together. But as you can see, the display looks great with different size images and frames!
Here’s another style I think you’ll like, too. It’s a great design for a more compact wall space.
Bronze Family Tree Picture Frame (6 photos)
This compact, stylish, and ornamental design fits easily on a coffee or end table or even a fireplace mantel. The tree comes with six little frames (order an extra set of 4 here). Again, think of this as a great way to show off pictures of your children or grandchildren, or use it to display treasured images of ancestors.
Crafting a Meaningful Home:27 DIY Projects to Tell Stories, Hold Memories and Celebrate Family Heritage
by Meg Mateo Ilasco.
If you like to make your own heritage displays, this book is for you. It’s packed with inspired ideas and detailed instructions on how to make things like decoupaged plates, a memory wall, and silhouettes on canvas. The projects shown are all really adaptable to fit your supplies and style. Meg thinks “out-of-the-box” about ways to preserve and display your memories–way beyond the traditional framed pictures, which are great but may not express the creative side of some of us!
DNA Ethnicity Charts from Family ChartMasters. These custom DNA ethnicity charts, based on your DNA test results, are gorgeous 21st-century conversation-starters to display in your home. Loved ones who may never glance at your painstakingly-researched family tree chart may make a beeline for these world maps and start asking questions!
You can choose from three different design options. The Basic theme is clean and fresh, and complements most decorating styles. The Antique theme’s sepia-tone finish brings together the styling of antique maps with your high-tech DNA profile. The Modern theme is graphic and bold, with neutral tones well-suited to contemporary décor. Which design would look best in your home–and on which wall?
See more heritage home decor ideas on my Pinterest boards. If you love heritage home decor, you should especially check out How to Display Your Family Tree and A Vintage Look at Home.
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