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How to Layout a Family Tree

By Flora Richards-Gustafson ; Updated July 28, 2017
There are different family tree designs.

Creating a family tree is an adventurous task that deserves an impressive display which others will admire for generations to come. Once you have gathered family member names, important dates and are able to trace at least four generations, it's time to put them on to a layout that makes sense. There are different design options for family trees; pick one based on how much information and research you've gathered.

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Choose the data you will include in the family tree. Family trees can be simple or detailed, and the information you include depends upon how many facts you have or how much work you want to do. A simple family tree will have only basic information about relatives on it: name, and date of birth and death (if applicable).

Choose whether to create the family tree on the computer or by hand. Both ways of laying out a family tree have advantages. If you know how to use a computer or have bad handwriting, or if you want to have a data backup of all your work, creating a digital family tree might be the right choice for you. If you want to be able to add to a family tree layout at any given moment, or if you're artistic or want to be able to easily transport your family tree, making one by hand may be the best option.

Choose the style of your tree. Some people want their family tree printed onto an image of a tree. Others like the simple look of plain brackets or boxes with lines leading to the next of kin in the diagram.

Start laying out the family tree by writing your name at the bottom of it.

Begin forming the layout (branches) of the tree by placing the names of your parents and their information next to each other above your name.

Above your father's name, write the names of his parents and their information side-by-side. Do the same with your mother's name and her side of the family.

Above each grandparent's name, place the names of, and information about, their fathers and mothers accordingly. Continue with this process with the information you have.

Place the names of an individual's siblings in the space between their name and their parent's names.

Add the names of spouses directly next to the name of the person to whom they are/were married.


If creating a family tree by hand, use a pencil so information is easily correctable.

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About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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