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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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Keeping Family History Alive for Kids: The Manilla Folder

Keeping Family History Alive for Kids: The Manilla Folder

When my younger brother A was born, my Grandma Cutler came to stay with us for a few days to help with my younger sister S (who was 3) and me (who was 7). I don't remember much about her stay, although we have a picture of her coming with me to lunch at school (which I am just pleased as punch about!), but I do remember that she brought a manilla folder with her, full of old photographs of my dad when he was younger, my grandpa (who died when my dad was 15) and other relatives and ancestors. Each night at dinner as we sat up to the stainless steel bar, she would let S and I choose a photograph from the envelope and would tell us the story that went with it. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember what any of the pictures were specifically or the stories that went with them, but I do remember that manilla envelope and am filled with a warm and filling feeling for my Grandma, and my ancestors when I think of that experience learning from her every night. Sure, it would be better if I remembered the specifics, but I believe that it's the love that matters most. Love that binds the generations together and brings us joy in knowing that families are forever.

Thinking about my grandma's manilla folder has had me thinking about how Kesler and I can help create similar experiences for baby F and our future children? How can we instill that love? What ideas have you tried, or do you want to try in your home with your children? Tell us in the comments!

Want to create a family tree chart for your home to help get the conversation started? Choose a starting template here!

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