How To Draw A Family Tree On Paper

For centuries, families have been fascinated by immortalizing themselves and their descendants in a family tree. To depict the development of one’s own family has a certain appeal for many. If you also want to design your own family tree, we have some tips and templates below.content

Many families want to map their own family constellation with a family tree.

This requires investing a lot of time and effort. Depending on how comprehensive your family tree should be, you have to research thoroughly. You may be missing information about unknown or deceased family members.

It’s best to view the creation of your family tree as a hobby and invest enough time. With patience , ambition and a little support, you will quickly have your personal family tree in your hands.

What a family tree is

What a family tree is

In the genealogy , the so-called genealogy, a family tree is a graphical representation of a tree, where the descendants of a particular person be detained.

Often the terms pedigree or descendant table are used as synonyms. In genealogical research, however, a family tree is only used if it is in the form of a tree. Likewise, a family tree only lists the test person’s descendants.

If the ancestors are shown in a diagram, one speaks of a pedigree. The combination of both methods is known as an hourglass diagram .

In most cases, the subject, i.e. the central person in the family tree, is at the lower end of the trunk and thus represents the root of the family in a figurative sense . It is up to you who you start your family tree with.

On the one hand, you can start the family tree with you as the subject , and you can also focus on another family member. The more generations your family tree goes back, the more difficult it will be to research and create your family tree. It is also possible to create a family tree of celebrities or other living beings .

Pedigree and ancestral list


The pedigree differs from the family tree in two ways: While the family tree shows the descendants of a person, the pedigree refers to your ancestors .

In contrast to the family tree, the pedigree always refers to yourself. When you create a pedigree, you therefore ask yourself who your ancestors are. The pedigree is similar to the family tree, but the way it is presented is different. Alternatively, you can simply list your ancestors. Then there is talk of an ancestral list.

In the ancestral list and pedigree, all ancestors are numbered with a Kekule number . The test person from whom the board starts out receives the number one . Every male ancestor receives double the value . Every female ancestor gets double the value plus one . Based on you, your father would get the number two, your paternal grandfather the number four and your paternal grandmother the number five.

In the following examples we have shown a pedigree table and an ancestral list to make the differences clear.

Example pedigree

Example list of ancestors: 

1st generation:

(1) Max Mustermann

2nd generation:

(2) Peter Mustermann (father of 1)

(3) Sonja Mayer (mother of 1)

3rd generation:

(4) Felix Mustermann (father of 2, grandfather of 1)

(5) Felicia Bauer (mother of 2, grandmother of 1)

(6) Leon Mayer (father of 3, grandfather of 1)

(7) Ingrid Beck (mother of 3, grandmother of 1)

4th generation:

(8) Björn Mustermann (father of 4, great-grandfather of 1)

(9) Elli Brenner (mother of 4, great-grandmother of 1)

(10) Helmut Bauer (father of 5, great-grandfather of 1)

(11) Anna Zimmermann (mother of 5, great-grandmother of 1)

(12) Rainer Mayer (father of 6, great-grandfather of 1)

(13) Inge Traude (mother of 6, great-grandmother of 1)

(14) Alexander Beck (father of 7, great-grandfather of 1)

(15) Grete Böcker (mother of 7, great-grandmother of 1)

Descendant board

While the pedigree shows all ancestors of the subject, the descendants table refers to the heirs and descendants . As a rule, the test person is shown at the bottom of the board. All children and grandchildren are listed at the top. A descendant table can later also be displayed as a family tree .

Similar to the pedigree that is descendants panel by different number systems numbered. In addition to the Kekule numbering variant, the d’Aboville system can also be used, for example . A representation of the descendants is also possible in a list form.

Hourglass Chart

Hourglass Chart

The hourglass chart is a mixture of the ancestral and descendant charts . In this representation, the test person is positioned in the middle of the diagram. In the upper direction of the ancestors and are mapped into the lower direction of the offspring of the subject.

If you want to show both ancestors and descendants in the display , the hourglass diagram is the best choice. In contrast to the family tree, the hourglass diagram relates to both generations : the ancestors of the test person and the test person’s descendants.

Trunk line

Another way of representing the family is the ancestral line . In contrast to the family tree and the pedigree, the lineage only refers to the male ancestors and descendants .

The lineage used to be particularly important in aristocratic houses , where the husband’s surname became a family name. As a result, the  surname of the man was always passed on to a male descendant. A trunk line is created. The founder of this lineage is also called ancestor or ancestor .

One daughter was unable to continue the line. Likewise, no siblings or other family members are shown in the main line .

Family tree analysis

Family tree analysis

Hereditary diseases are tracked with a pedigree analysis . Such an analysis is often carried out when a child wishes to have children when there is a risk of transmission of a hereditary disease. The pedigree analysis assesses how high the risk of the disease is transmitted to other generations. In the best of cases, there is no longer any risk of transmission .

Since different traits and variants can occur during inheritance , the genealogical analysis must determine which genes and traits are passed on. It must be ruled out that genes are inherited with the information from the hereditary diseases or that they are dominant.

Creating a family tree: 5 tips

Maybe you are in the planning stage or the design of your family tree is imminent. To you this support , we have for you five tips your tree for planning and preparation.

Build yourself a framework

Building a family tree takes time and planning

At the beginning you should be aware that the representation of a family tree can be complex . Depending on how big the tree is supposed to be, the task can be quite arduous. Even if you lack information about your ancestors or descendants, you will have to look for this in order to create the family tree. Therefore, you should plan enough time for yourself. Building a family tree is a hobby that you will need to invest time in.

Think beforehand who will be the subject of the family tree . Should you be in the center? Or would you like to take your great-great-grandfather as a test subject? Depending on how you decide, the process of researching and designing the tree can be more complex.

Make sure that you only want to show your descendants in the family tree. If you are more interested in genealogy , you should consider converting the family tree into a pedigree. You can also display an hourglass diagram if you want to display both descendants and ancestors in one diagram.

With a basic framework, you can already start thinking about your family tree: A sketch of the tree that you make beforehand may help you . This will give you a feel for the size and shape of the tree.

Ask your family

Ask your family

After you have set up a basic framework , you can start your research. If all of your ancestors are still alive, you can ask them personally . They may also have contact with other ancestors and relatives and can arrange contacts for you.

In many cases, your grandparents can also provide you with additional information about their siblings or distant relatives that is relevant to the family tree. Maybe they still have old documents, letters or diaries. In this way you can collect further information about relatives and fill your family tree further. If you start your family tree with a deceased ancestor as a test subject, you can also ask your grandparents in this case whether they have useful information or even documents for you.

Depending on how detailed you want your family tree to be, social media can also help you. Perhaps you will find parts of your family or distant relatives here that you do not know personally. If you get stuck with your research, you can also do research in archives.

Search for ancestors and descendants

Search for ancestors and descendants

Especially when you’re researching your ancestors, research can be difficult. The longer a person has passed away, the more difficult it is to find information. When relevant family members are no longer alive, you may need to do in- depth research .

If you have difficulties or an extended research, you can consider archival work. You can find many documents in church and state archives. Especially in church archives you can often find baptismal, death or grape books of your ancestors. You can also find additional information from the civil status register in the respective registry office .

Be aware that genealogy research can be tedious and tedious. Depending on where your ancestors lived, you have to work your way through different archives . Especially with old documents there is a risk that the writing cannot be deciphered or that translation errors occur.

Create family tree on the Internet

Create family tree on the Internet

Once you’ve gathered your information, decide what to do next. There are several ways to create a family tree . One possibility is the design via an Internet program or a website.

There are many sites where you can register for free and create a family tree online. In many cases, such sites are social networks . As soon as parts of your family tree match the family trees of other registered users, you will receive a notification.

This way you can find distant family members and relatives . Your family tree will automatically expand. If possible, you can also print it out and design it afterwards.

In the next chapter you will find a few templates that will make it easier for you to create a family tree. Depending on the template, you can freely decide how your family tree should look and how many generations are shown in your template. If you don’t like the representation of the tree, you can beautify it afterwards with colors and pictures of your family members.

Draw family tree

Draw family tree

If you want to work creatively and design your family tree yourself, think about the size of your family tree beforehand . The more generations you want to list, the bigger your tree will be. So make a sketch beforehand and note down all the relevant people in your family tree.

As soon as you have noted down all the people, you can write them down in your sketch. When your basic framework is in place, you can work your way up piece by piece .

Family tree template

In order to simplify the design of your family tree, we provide you with some templates here . Depending on your ideas, we have different templates with different generations. You will also find a classic template that you can expand as you wish. The template serves as the basic framework. You can let your creativity run free when designing the design .

Template 1

This template is the classic variant of a family tree. With a total of three generations, the family tree is kept relatively small. If you start with your grandfather as the progenitor, you have space for his children and their children. In this case, the family tree is limited to the children of the next generation.

example 1

Template 2

This family tree template has room for four generations . At the trunk you will find space for the progenitor and his wife. For example, if you put your grandparents in the bottom position, you can expand the family tree to include your own children. Depending on how many children there are, you have to adapt the family tree. If you want to expand the family tree and there is space for it, you can also add the spouse and other relevant relatives to the family tree. How you use the family tree space is up to you.

Example 2

Template 3

The following example only shows the basic structure of a family tree. Specifically, it is not directly a family tree, as it is not a graphical representation of a tree. For example, you can enter your mother or father in the first field, and enter yourself and your siblings in the fields above . This is how you continue the family tree. So that it is officially a family tree, you can then draw a tree around the basic structure .