How To Draw a Family Tree Diagram

Researching one’s family tree can be an interesting activity. You might be asked for your family tree in school, or your kids might want to trace your ancestry through the generations. Either way, it can result in a lot of interesting and surprising discoveries. It can also give you a renewed sense of self. In some cases, you might even discover that you’re related to some person you never expected to be linked to.

While there are software that let you generate a family tree using on-screen inputs (such as, you can create your own family tree diagram using charts that specify generation, gender and even complicated relationships among family members. You can even make an adventure out of your family tree diagram making. Some people will even visit public registries and cemeteries just to look for the names, birthdates and dates of death of their ancestors.

A nicely-drawn family tree can make for a good gift for your kids, siblings or any other close relative.

  • Gather the information you need. This will depend on how deep you want your family tree to go. It’s usually easy to make a family tree diagram up to three generations before you. This will include you, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents. Therefore, you will need to know a lot about your family.
  • You can usually gather this information from firsthand accounts. Sit down with your parents or grandparents over dinner, and ask them about all the relatives they can remember. Take notes. Find out who married whom. Find out maiden names. Try to remember what happened to all your cousins and their relatives.
  • You will need to organize your notes backwards. You will need to start drawing as far back as your research goes. Work your way to the present. Try to organize your notes according to generation.
  • Represent females by circles. Represent males by triangles. Some people will use squares for the males, though. Write each person’s details right under the shape: name, year of birth, year of death (if deceased).
  • Draw horizontal lines between people indicating they are married. Draw their children underneath them, with everyone connected to the parents with a line. A divorce can be indicated by two slashes.
  • Note that each generation will occupy a certain horizontal line on your page. Keep this order, so that you can remain organized, no matter how many generations you will be drawing in your family tree diagram.

Some tips

  • Try practicing on ruled or graphing paper, so you can get the hang of drawing in alignment.
  • If you want to use the Internet, there’s a handful of software and services that you can use. You can try visiting This can help you discover new members of your family tree by inviting people to sign up via email. You might be surprised at who you discover to be related with you.
  • For best results have your family tree printed out on large format on a large paper. This way, you have space to include everyone.


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