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Recording your family tree

Updated on October 14, 2013

Recording your finds

Make certain you back up your family tree data bases as fequently as possible.  Not everything is set in stone
Make certain you back up your family tree data bases as fequently as possible. Not everything is set in stone

What are the choices?

When you are researching your tree you will you will want to display your findings for others to see, and to add relatives. There are 3 ways you can do this. On-line, software and pen and paper. All three have there plus points and there downside, it’s a question of personal taste. It may be that over time you will use a combination of all three. I have chosen here to write a bit about each one and to share what I have found useful. If you are just beginning to map out your tree then I would suggest that you look at software carefully before you buy, as some are expensive and can be too complicated for someone with a basic family history to record. As a beginner the word I kept coming across was, Gedcom. Put simply Gedcom stands for Genealogical Data Communication. It is a file format that is used to exchange genealogical data between different genealogy software programs. A Gedcom file is plain text and contains genealogical information about individuals, and information that links these individuals together. Most genealogy software will allow you to import or export your family tree in Gedcom format.

Who do you think you are?

All the basics are there, and it includes some powerful tree-making tools. For instance, it's no trouble to add all sorts of branches for outlying family members, and the software makes it easy to input information, including notes on each person. Adding new people is simple. It can be tricky to get to grips with the navigation at first, but it comes with practice.  I used this software for a short time but I found it didn’t have the ease of use that I like. I felt it lacks something. The package includes two printed manuals, one that goes through hints and tips for your own searching, and another thicker book that covers usage of the software itself. Some packages also have a DVD of the program. Personally I’d rather have it cheaper and without the DVD.


Family Historian

This software is an easy to use, comprehensive family tree program that has some of the most modern features anyone could wish for. Though all-embracing, this 100% British software makes a good program for beginners due to its easy to understand user screens. You can easily add facts to each individual from the focus window. You may add more than one type of fact under one listing such as multiple occupations over the course of an individual’s life.

Roots magic

Its interface lets you publish your family history in a variety of ways: as charts, reports, books and even online. The varieties of charts help anyone to produce professional looking family trees for friends and family to enjoy. The edit screen allows you to add an unlimited number of facts for every person. You’ll find Bar Mitzvah, Blessing and Birth; Education, Election, Excommunication and many other options. The features I found useful in the software is that you can print and view 5 or 6 generations at once on the pedigree view or 2 through 7 generations at once on the descendant view. Also backup and restore options are easy to use and helps to safeguard your data



Legacy is organized around four family tree views. Add individuals on the Family View or on the Pedigree View; click to pull up the individual’s information. Use the icons to add specific information like spouses, siblings and children. Events can be selected from a drop down menu, you can add ‘as is,’ edit and add, or create a new event to add to an individual. New events are retained in the Master Event List. Both individuals and facts can be marked as private. You will be able to choose to exclude private items from reports and charts.  The most useful thing in this software is that it has advanced color-coding options available to make it easier to trace ancestor lines. It does take a while to fully explore its tools and to fully appreciate the flexibility and customization of this software. However keep playing around with it and you should have a program that does all a family historian needs.


Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker is a good program for beginners. I used this program for a number of years and found it did all I wanted. The main screen is easy to navigate and provides the user with a wide variety of tools to create a detailed family tree. The majority of the work will be done on the People Workspace. From this screen you can do three things: customize an individual’s profile, view a list of all the names currently entered and view the family tree chart. When shared facts are in play, the software will link the information with all of the individuals who are associated with it, such as viewing both spouses in a marriage. To help the user in entering correct information, Family Tree Maker has an automated system that will alert you of any duplicate records or unlikely dates this was invaluable as it is easy to make mistakes. By registering to, the user will be able to do family research

Find your family's coat of arms

The family motto
The family motto

Recording your tree on-line

With the on-line sites you really get what you pay for.  Tribal pages allow you put a basic tree on-line for free. You can connect with others who might have shared relatives, but there are no forums or much else. Genes re-united cost about 10 pounds per year plus you can buy credits to view records. These include census reports and birth death and marriages records. There is a good community on the forums. Genes are always updating and have added a map feature so you can plot the movement of families in your tree.  Ancestry is simply the best. It has thousands of records available for you to search from all over the world, plus military records and newspapers from the past. It has a lively community. The only downside is the price, but they often run 14 days free trials.


Pen and paper

To create a family tree with pen and paper can be a lot of fun.  There are many charts you can buy or download on-line and you decorate your tree with photos, pictures or coat of arms. You can do all this yourself or pay a professional to do it.  I have our family tree on the wall and it is always a talking point when friends arrive and has even inspired some to create their own. A good place for buying bigger charts are local family history fairs, these also sell pens whose ink won’t fade over time.

Making your tree unique

A family tree on the wall and it is always a talking point
A family tree on the wall and it is always a talking point


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    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Bristol England

      family Tree Maker is probably to basic to hold information on a complicated tree like yours, but the others are very comprehensive. All the best with your tree.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a confusing family tree with step and half family members, is this program able to effectively let you add these types of people and show them effectively? I also visited this page more about family trees.

    • technorican profile image


      7 years ago from Houston

      WOW >> I am amazed at all the material! Much appreciated.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      I couldn't agree more Lamme, you must record anything you find out, as later it could be very helpful. Also like you I need more hours in a day. Thanks very much for your comment

    • Lamme profile image


      8 years ago

      Great information. I think it's important to record as much of your family history as possible. Some people may not want to do the additional research, but even saving the information they already have will help others continue their research. It's such an interesting field. Wish I had more time to devote to it.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Sharif for the comment. If you buy genealogy software don't forget to check E Bay as they have some bargains

    • Sharif Ishnin profile image

      Sharif Ishnin 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      I'm not aware of such softwares. I'm been writing them down with pen and

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed it

    • CuzzoShizzo profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Great ways to record your family tree! Well done.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      I know just what you mean Dao Hoa, some of these sites need to remember that these are our records of our ancestors and not theirs. I don't mind paying some, but what some ask for is outrageous

    • Dao Hoa profile image

      Dao Hoa 

      8 years ago

      I was looking at this a while back, but some of them charge too much to join and search! :-(

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Pamela, genealogy has been my patime for many years, i love it .Nice to meet someone who loves it as well. Thanks for the comment

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from United States

      Jayjay, A very good hub. I am a a genealogy researcher for a number of years now. I just love it. It's nice to find someone else writing about genealogy.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks wrenfrost56 and Hello,hello. I tried to write this hub with the new genealogist in mind. I remembered how confusing things were. Again thanks for reading

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      A good and comprehensive information about to get the family tree established. Thank you.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image


      8 years ago from U.K.

      Great hub jayjay, information rich and well written. I'm really enjoying your work. Good resources too.


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