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5 Tips For How To Make a Family Tree Chart That Looks Spectacular

5 Tips For How To Make a Family Tree Chart That Looks Spectacular

If you're going to have a family tree chart on display in your house, you want to make sure it not only goes with your personal decorating style but also looks absolutely spectacular in general. Here are 5 tips for creating a family tree chart that looks spectacular based on the 100's of charts we've seen and created.

1) Let your ancestors breathe.

Regardless of what template you choose, leave some "white space". Choose font sizes that allow for the names to be large enough to be readable and still fit comfortably within their cell. At all costs, avoid allowing the name to run into the edges of the cell--it makes the chart looked cramped and if you're not careful part of the name will get cut off to boot and your great grandmother's name with become ZABETH MART instead of ELIZABETH MARIEAU... and no one wants that.

Pro tip: Spilt long names onto multiple lines to remedy this. Here's how.

2) Margins matter.

This goes along with leaving space in each cell to allow your ancestors' names some breathing room--leave adequate outside margins. There are few things worse than a gorgeous family tree chart that runs into and gets cut off by its own frame. Since it's up to you to determine what size (and thereby ratio) you'd like to print it, the default margins are merely a guideline. When in doubt, pump them up a tad so you have some room to play with and be sure to preview your design wherever you choose to print it so you can be sure that too much white space isn't being cut off! To adjust the margins, choose "Advanced" > "Chart" > Drag the "Margin" slider.

3) Proofread.

We're HUGE fans of the import functionality ourselves, either from Family Search or via GEDCOM, because it saves us all a TON of time. Spend a few minutes of that time to proof-read your entire chart. The data is pulled in exactly as it is in FamilySearch or in the GEDCOM file, but that doesn't mean there aren't any typos that were part of the original data or funky characters that are hoping to be umlauts but weren't available in the font you've chosen. While you're at it, watch for any long names that might have escaped their bounds (see tip #1) or are overlapping with dates (even if it's only by a single letter). It's the little things.

4) Make a conscientious font choice.

Practically everything is customizable with our Family Tree Prints family tree maker: font, shape, size and each and every color. Changing the font will change the entire feel of your chart, so make sure you've chosen one that speaks to you and the level of formality you'd like your chart to express. For the perfect blend of readability and classiness, we're huge fans of either Montserrat or Cinzel, but ultimately the choice is yours!

5) Begin with the end in mind.

Think about where you'd like your chart to be displayed and how large you'd like it printed before finalizing your chart. We have some printing recommendations that can help if you need some additional guidance but in our experience the ideal number of generations, amount of information you'd like displayed in each generation of your family tree chart, font choice, color selection, etc., can all be impacted by the size and environment the chart will be living in.

Feeling ready to get started making your own custom family tree chart? Head on over and choose a template to get started with in our family tree maker!

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The Feature Update That Will Have Your Family Tree Chart Looking 10x Better

The Feature Update That Will Have Your Family Tree Chart Looking 10x Better

Here at Family Tree Prints, we're all about giving you the tools to create your family tree chart exactly to your tastes, which means the power to create a gorgeous genealogy tree is in your hands. If that's a little daunting, don't worry, just pick one of our handy templates to start from and then make sure you avoid these common mistakes. To make it that much easier for you to avoid some common pitfalls and make sure that your final family tree chart is absolutely stunning, let us introduce one new product feature, that although simple will rock your world and improve your chart... the power to split names onto multiple lines.

Expecting something different? Here's why it matters. We all have those few ancestors whose names seem to stretch for eons (I'm looking at you "Anna Katharina Elizabeth Rauschenberg"), who seem to sit right next "John Smith" in your family tree and make it incredibly difficult to accommodate both names in the same generation without it looking terrible. By allowing you to split names into multiple lines exactly where you'd like them split, you get even more control over your family tree chart aesthetic and readability soars. The best part? It's super intuitive. Just click on the cell you'd like to edit, and in the "Name:" field on the main "Chart" tab use the "Return/Enter" key just as you would in any email, presentation or word document.

Here's one example of before and after to show you how handy this feature is:


family tree chart with names cut off

In the three cells highlighted for you in red, you'll notice that the names are getting cut off. To remedy this, I could increase the size of the generation, but since all the other names look fantastic as is, this is a great candidate for where to break names onto multiple lines!


how to make a family tree look great

Now the names are broken into multiple lines, and those generations look great! You may notice that many of the names in the outer generation are overlapping with their dates in the outside generation still. Since this occurs on so many, to fix this, I'll opt to increase the generation width size using the "Generation Width" slider bar on the main "Chart" tab. The final edits can be seen below.

example of family tree

Ready to get started making your own custom family tree chart? Be sure to use this feature once you choose a starting template!

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How To Make a Family Tree For a 90 Year Old (Hint: Readability is Key!)

How To Make a Family Tree For a 90 Year Old (Hint: Readability is Key!)

We recently had a customer write in looking for some advice on colors for a chart she was creating for her 90-year-old mother-in-law. We gave her some tips we'd learned creating a chart for my grandpa that are useful for anyone creating a genealogy chart for a member of this older generation.

Readability is king.

Creating a family tree chart for a parent or grandparent is a delightfully thoughtful gesture, that is sure to be appreciated... but it will be even better if they can read it, which means you need to take your recipient's eye-sight into account. This means:

  • Choosing a color palette that is high contrast and highly readable,
  • Choosing a readable font, and 
  • Using slight larger fonts than you might normally use,
  • Which may necessitate displaying slightly fewer generations to make everything fit.

Color Palettes

Unless one of our other color palettes speaks strongly to you based on your grandparents' personality and home decor, we recommend choosing a black and white or neutral color palette as a nice, safe option. Then, just make sure that the text color is sufficiently high contrast for old eyes to enjoy reading. If you determine that you'd like to make an adjustment to black (or white) from one of the more subtle hues sometimes used in our templates:

1) Click on the "Advanced" tab.

2) Click on the "Color" tab within the advanced settings.

3) Choose which cells' text colors you'd like to update from the drop-down menu (you can change the whole chart, each generation, alternating cells in a generation or an individual cell at a time)

4) Click the "Text Color" swatch, and choose the new color you'd like the text to be.

If you've found a color palette as part of a template you like, but want it to be in a different shape (fan instead of circle, or circle instead of fan), you just start from the original template, and then once you're in the editor choose Advanced > Shape and choose the shape you'd like the chart to be.


Research has shown that the most readable fonts in printed material tend to be Serif (think Times New Roman), but letter width and spacing plays a role as well. You can change your chart's font by choosing Advanced > Chart and using the font drop-down menu. If you're looking for specific font recommendations, try Montserrat (which is a san serif font) or Cinzel (which is a serif font). In terms of sizing, there's no need to go crazy, bumping up the font sizes, but try to make them as big as you can while still keeping things looking nice.

Choosing What Information To Include

We have some general printing guidelines, which are still a good rule of thumb here, just lean slightly towards bigger. You can make room for added legibility by decreasing the number of generations that are visible, not displaying dates for all the generations, and/or making sure you put names on multiple lines (you can do this by simply hitting enter in Name: text box on the main "Chart" tab.)

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to shoot us an email at and we'd be happy to help!


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Real Customer Question: I Love What You Do, But My Family History Isn't Very Complete: How Does It Work For People Like Me?

Real Customer Question: I Love What You Do, But My Family History Isn't Very Complete: How Does It Work For People Like Me?

We figure if one person has a question, others probably do too, and we want to help you know how to make a family tree...specifically how to make YOUR family tree! Today's real customer question is:

Q: I love what you do, but my family history isn't very complete. How does it work for people like me?

A: The short answer is, the same. You'll just want to choose the right template to make it look fantastic!

Each family history has its own unique challenges. I have a cousin whose genealogy on one line stops with her Greek grandmother on one side, who although living does not know her parents' names. My cousin's family took a trip to Greece this summer to see what they could learn from local records and still... nothing. So the question is... does an incomplete genealogy change how you make a genealogy wall chart? It depends.

It's true that the gorgeously symmetrical fan chart going back 10 generations is impressive and beautiful, but there are lots of ways to represent your unique genealogy in a beautiful way that pays tribute to your ancestors and looks great hanging up.

black genealogy wall chart

If you're a lover of all things symmetric, try decreasing the number of generations displayed in your chart. Just because you have 10 generations for one line, doesn't mean you have to display them all on your wall. Choosing a bold and interesting template can make a 3 or four generation chart look super cool, and adding a text decal adds another layer of interest.

As an addendum to that, if you have several lines stretching to infinity, but others that are shorter, you can create a smaller (3-5 generation chart), as well as several other smaller charts for specific lines you'd like to feature. (Using our FamilySearch import it's super easy to put ANYONE at the center of your chart, so this is easy peasy!)

white circle family tree template

Another option is to embrace the complexity and lopsidedness of your chart! One template that lends itself really well to this is our White Simplicity Template... no lines, no background color... just names. It's gorgeous, classic, classy and modern. One of my personal favorite templates of all time. This can look really cool in a fan shape, or in a circle shape. For any template, when working with a "lopsided" genealogy, removing the lines or making them extra pronounced can help with the artistry.

bold family tree template

The long and the short of it is... play around. Something unique will look best with your genealogy. With this chart, I ended up choosing a VERY bold template and leaving an entire extra generation blank to act as a sort of frame for the chart. It looks really cool and bright with the extra thick white lines, and it looked absolutely HORRID with a one-pixel line. So play with it, and you'll discover a chart as unique as your own genealogy.

Want to go right into our family tree maker app to experiment? Go for it!

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