Different Family Tree Views Provide Perspective

June 12, 2019  - by 
A girl helps a special needs boy work on family history.

When you are trying to make sense of family connections, seeing is believing. Each of the four FamilySearch Family Tree pedigree views reveals a panorama of ancestors. By clicking on a specific name, you can discover personal details, and family history comes to life.

The various Family Tree views help beginners see how ancestral lines fit together. They also provide experts with a broader vision of where to go next.

How to Get Started

Once you have signed in to FamilySearch.org, click Family Tree. In the far left corner is a drop-down that will allow you to switch between views. Each view has similar information but different layouts.

Before you take a look at the various views, here is how to navigate each of the four views:

The icons on the left of the screen in the tree view.
  • To close all your expanded lines and return to yourself, click the Home icon.
  • To read details about a person on the tree, click the person’s name. A summary box will open. (To see the person’s page, click the highlighted name in the box.)
  • To expand a family line another 2 generations, click the arrow at the end of that line.
  • To move a different person to the main position, click his or her name, and then in the summary box, click Tree.
  • To keep all the expanded lines open and return to the starting person, click the re-center icon under the home button.

The Options Panel

The options panel on FamilySearch.org.

The Options panel in the top right of the screen gives you several ways to customize what you see in your tree. Its options vary depending on which tree view you are using.

  • Select icons that indicate record hints, research suggestions, and data problems to see this information reflected on the tree.
  • To display or hide portraits, select Portraits.
  • To change the color scheme from light to dark, click Invert Colors.
  • To print a pedigree, click Options, and then click Print

Family Tree Views 

Fan Chart View

The fan chart is a colorful, fascinating tool for young and old alike. It shows up to 7 generations. To the right of the chart view drop-down, you can choose how many generations you would like to see.

the fan chart view on FamilySearch.org.

Many useful features in the fan chart provide hints and helps that make it easy to identify where your line ends. This view also includes a chart-view option list. Using this list, you can select from multiple, color-coded views that illuminate different kinds of information in your tree. This information includes the following:

  • Your family lines.
  • The birth countries of your ancestors.
  • The number of sources attached to each relative.
  • The number of stories attached to each relative.
  • The number of photos attached to each relative.

Your name appears at the center bottom of the fan chart, with your spouse and children underneath. Maternal ancestors appear on the right, and paternal ancestors appear on the left. Your spouse’s ancestors will not show up in this view unless you are looking at your spouse’s fan chart.

Descendancy View

The descendancy view can help you find the descendants of your ancestors. It is especially useful if you have a very full family tree. This view shows more than parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; with the descendancy view, you may also find distant aunts, uncles, and cousins as well!

descendancy view.

Landscape View

The landscape view is displayed horizontally. You are in the center, descendants are on the left, and ancestors are on the right. In this view, you can see the children of a couple by clicking Children at the bottom of the couple box. Click the arrow again to return to the previous view.

lanscape view of a family tree.

Portrait View

The portrait view displays the family tree in a vertical position, with you and your descendants at the bottom and your ancestors above you.

portrait view of a family tree.

Family Tree Views Help Us See the Past

The visual effect of grouping families in a family tree may spark a greater interest in research and hopefully create a heart-turning desire to learn more about those loved ones—your heritage—that will lead to connections of the past, present, and even the future.

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  1. A very good summary for starters on the various types of pedigree charts available. It might also be useful to explain how to extend the tree beyond the maximum 7 generations from the original signed in person, (i.e. choose an ancestor at end of a line, hover over and click on the highlighted small tree on inner circle of the ancestor to move that ancestor to the centre of the chart), that way you see the earlier generations.

  2. Looking for the parents and siblings of my great, great, grandfather. Jackson G Booker birth 1822-1927. Pineapple,Alabama area. He owned a grocery store, gas station,. Well known his descendants grew up in the south. Any information please email me at: ljw51@grnco.net. Thank you! Laura B Watson

  3. I have tried to leave an email about my grandmothers(Bridget M. Dooley) family Joseph Dooley, Derryduff, Ireland 1846 and Johanna Byrne Kilkenny, Ireland 1865 and am told my email will not be published. Required fields are marked but I cannot find where the problem is.

      1. Thank you so much for your quick response. Because of your information I have found the local family history center and will be contacting them for assistance. Marie

  4. I am often bewildered by Data Problems, when n fact there are;nt any. The Dates of BMD, for example are correct, yet there are considered to be Data Problems.!

    1. It may be the format in which they were entered. Ex: DOB entered as 11/28/1961 might correctly be listed as 28 November 1961.
      If that appears to be the case, just click on Edit by the information that is listed as incorrect and use a different format. The same is especially true of places of birth. There’s an officially recognized format for entering the information. If the data is correct, but it is not in the correct format, you’ll get that error. Often, it will be as simple as not having the county or country listed, along with the city and state. When you edit and start typing the info, you should get a drop down list, from which you can pick the accepted format.

    1. Non-members’ trees work the same way that a member’s tree works. Every person with a new FamilySearch account should start by adding their first 4 generations. Once they add information about deceased ancestors, their tree should fill up with all the information the FamilySearh Family tree has so they won’t have to manually add everything. This article explains it all really well. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi Ashley,
    Could you please let me know how I can see the full list of imported people from my GEDCOM file? I have ~500 people Invalid or Living (which is not all true) but I cannot access them in a list or Vitals view to change them to deceased.
    Thank you,

  6. Is it possible to make the different visual ‘boxes’ that represent individuals different colors? For example, could I shade all of the boxes of my ancestors from Ireland green, shade all of the boxes of my ancestors from Sweden yellow, etc.? Thank you!

    1. Yes it is, I’m glad you asked! In the top left corner, switch to fan chart view. When you are in fan chart view there is a drop down menu that gives you more options. Click “Birth Country” and it will show you which birth country all your ancestors came from. It is color coded and the key is on the right hand side. I personally have a lot of fun with this view. Hope this helps!

  7. I guys so I have a family tree where theirs one ancestor but on the left of him their’s a dash mark and then another man kind of like a list and what I wanted to know if with this format are they brothers or father and son.

  8. Would FamilySearch consider a couple more option for Fan charts? It is nice that there is an option to print your spouse and offering below (as long as you don’t have too many kids!). But it would be even better to also have a Family fan chart so that spouse can discuss their research… or for newlyweds to use in discovering their new extended family. Currently the only way to do that is to do a fan chart for the child in a marriage. (Newlyweds would have to create a faux person.)

    Such a family fan chart could be given to each child… without looking like you’re favoring one child nor going to the extra effort of creating a new fan for each child every time a new ancestor is discovered/updated.

    Finally, it would be nice to be able to redact the center 1-3 generation(s). Excluding living Persons makes the chart more distributable without privacy complaints. If the redaction omit the blocks as well as the data, you could use the center for a wedding photo.

    1. Hi Roger! Thank you for your question. You can upload a GEDCOM to FamilySearch. Please follow the instructions here for uploading. Once uploaded you need to compare it to the FamilySearch Family Tree in order for you to add any new people from your GEDCOM to the shared FamilySearch Family Tree. Once you complete this process you will be able to access those individuals in the Family Tree. Good luck and thank you for reading the blog!