Create Family Trees – Manually

Sometimes genealogists have a need to build a family tree. Is that a joke? Really, not. We’ve all drawn trees using pencils. Some of us have an ancestry.com account and build trees there. The tree at FamilySearch.org is wonderful (and free). But still, sometimes we want to create a printable chart without using the big systems. Perhaps we want to send something to family members, perhaps we are helping someone find their missing relatives and need to “show and tell”. Listed below are some ways to create tree charts “by hand”.

Lucidchart.com

A limited version is free, or the individual fee is $7.95/month. Cloud based, stores file locally.

Diagrams.net (or draw.io)

Completely free. They make their money from corporate licenses. Cloud based, stores file locally. This looks and feels just like Lucidchart. I like it, but it requires a learning period.

Scapple: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple/overview

This is an unusual free-form product, limited in chart elements, designed primarily for idea or note taking. But charts can be tossed together quickly. For those quick-n-dirty trees, this is almost as good as pencil and paper.

The program is installed on your computer, Windows or Mac. There is a one time purchase fee: $20.99, or educational $16.79.

There is a 30 day free trial, fully capable. I was told this trial counts “used days”, so you can skip a few days and it won’t count against you. I can show an example at the DNA Sig meeting.

FamilyEcho.com

Completely free. Cloud based, stores file locally.

Excel (or any spreadsheet program)

I was surprised to see charts built using Excel, but it can be done quickly and with limited knowledge of formatting rules. I can show an example at the DNA Sig meeting.


Disclaimer: Of the above, I have only used Diagrams.net. I may try Scapple in the future. I do own Excel and can try it whenever.…


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