New Discovery Fan Chart: Explore Your Family Tree in Depth

October 24, 2018  - by 

Family trees on FamilySearch can store huge amounts of information about your family. This is one of their greatest strengths. Sometimes sorting through this amount of information, or even figuring out what information your tree contains, can feel overwhelming. That’s why FamilySearch has released a new version of the fan chart.

This new fan chart provides an overview of up to 7 generations of your family tree—and helps you see your tree in a whole new way. In just one glance, you can discover your ancestral heritage or learn which family members have an abundance of sources, family photos, and family stories—and which could use a little more work!


Accessing the Fan Chart

FamilySearch fan chart menuViewing your family in a fan chart is simple. From the Family Tree page on FamilySearch, click the arrow beside Landscape to see other viewing options. Then select Fan Chart. This will build a fan chart starting with the person you have in the primary position. You can also access the fan chart directly.

To see a fan chart starting with someone else on your tree, simply find that person on your fan chart, and click on the name. A box with basic information about the person will appear. At the bottom, you can select Tree or Person. If you select Tree, FamilySearch will build a fan chart with that person at the center.

FamilySearch tree person menu

New Ways to View Your Family Tree

FamilySearch fan chart expanded menuOnce you’re on the fan chart screen, you’ll see several new options. For one thing, your chart can now display 5, 6, or 7 generations. You can also choose from several display themes: Birth Country, Sources, Stories, or Photos. In each case, the fan chart still shows the ancestors’ names as well as birth and death years. However, now the chart blocks are color-coded. A key on the side tells you what each color represents. This makes the information easy to digest quickly.

For example, choosing Birth Country will bring up the fan chart colored according to where each ancestor was born. In the example shown, ancestors born in the United Kingdom are colored with pink blocks, while those born in England have orange blocks.

FamilySearch fan chart by country

When you choose a different display option, the fan chart is color coded according to how many of that particular item (sources, stories, or photos) each ancestor has. From the key displayed here, you can see that in this example, ancestors with 10 or more photos have the darkest color blocks. Those with fewer have lighter blocks until those with 0 have white blocks.

FamilySearch fan chart birth by country key FamilySearch fan chart sources key FamilySearch fan chart stories key FamilySearch fan chart photos key

How the Fan Chart Can Help You

When using these new fan charts to look at your family information, you’re bound to make some new discoveries. Instead of scrolling through your tree or clicking on individual screens to gather information one piece at a time, you can now get an overview on one screen. Ever wonder how much German heritage you have? Or what your strongest ancestral heritage is? Now you can see this on your FamilySearch fan chart.

The color-coded fan chart also helps you recognize patterns you might not have seen before. Maybe one branch of your family tree is filled with sources and photos while another branch hardly has any. With this understanding, you can more effectively focus your attention on a particular family or branch. Maybe you will want to spend some time reading stories you hadn’t realized existed. Noticing some branches of your tree that don’t have sources or photos may inspire you to add some yourself!

The next time you’re looking at your family on FamilySearch, take a moment to try the new Fan Chart view. You just might see your family in a whole new way.


Leslie Albrecht Huber

Leslie Albrecht Huber has written for dozens of magazines and journals on genealogy and other topics. She currently does communications consulting and contract work for nonprofit organizations. Leslie received a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a professional genealogist, helpingothers trace their families, and has spoken on genealogy and history topics to groups across the United States.

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  1. All of my ancestors documented so far were born in England but the fan shows some as UK and some as England. The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so having England separate makes no sense. I don’t understand the reasoning for showing United Kingdom and England separately or how it is decided.

    1. The program that creates the fan chart looks at whatever was entered in the place of birth space on each individual’s person page will say “unknown.” If the space has “United Kingdom,” so will the fan chart. If it only has “England,” “Ireland,” “Scotland,” or “Wales” that’s what will appear on the fan chart. Some of the sources have only partial information and any people don’t understand the history of the jurisdictional boindaries, which may have changed (example: Ireland, where the Repuclic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were both just plain “Ireland” up until the Irish revolution and civil war of 100 years ago). So there is an underlying lack of consistency in the way the birthplace information has been entered, depending on what the records say, or how the information was handed down and recorded by ministers, clerks, registrars and family members over the centuries.

      1. Sorry, I’m having a problem with touch screen registering keystrokes that weren’t actually touched — The beginning of that post should read: “The program that creates the fan chart looks at whatever was entered in the place of birth space on each individual’s person page. IF THE SPACE IS BLANK THE CHART will say “unknown.”” P

  2. I have 2 family trees on Is it possible to transfer all of those details onto 2 Family Search trees? If yes what action do I need to take? Would they have to be converted to Gedcom?

  3. One thing I have run into on my tree is that my touch screen is locked and I can’t navigate. I can move the screen up and down but not side to side. What can I do to fix this?

  4. Very helpful for seeing what is in your tree re: sources especially. Now I have to figure out how ro make a source a possible rather than firm source!

  5. Is there some way to fill in a fan chart with a rather than putting in individually. If not can the fan chart be made available to folks?

  6. I have designed my own family tree and include a key showing the town or city emblem of my ancestors and also a map of their migrations and movement through time To add additional evidence of my ancestry I have also had my DNA done which correlates well with the research on their origins going back 6 generations You fan arrangement is excellent and I will see I can use it Do you have a facility which allows us to be able to leave our family history (mine is a 50 000 word doc with many many photos ) in pituitary and allow them access?
    Thank for your help

    1. Brian, there are several options to add and/or upload your family book including pictures into Family Search. under FAMILY TREE there are drop down options. The last one under this feature is “My Family Booklet”. Under the MEMORIES drop down options there are two options for adding pictures. I just started using this feature and saved some family pictures in My Gallery. I have not attempted to link them to a family descendant chart yet, Hope these two features can be of use to you.