Organizing Matches with the Leeds Method

 Leeds Method of DNA Match Organization

The Leeds Method is a simple and colorful way to organize your DNA matches using color coded clusters.


To use the Leeds Method you will start by creating a list of your 2nd and 3rd cousin matches. In general these are those in your match list that share less than 400 cM of DNA but more than 90 cM. Create this list in a spreadsheet program like Excel, Numbers. The data used below is real (the names have been changed:)

 Spreadsheet showing DNA matches

Pick a color and fill in the space next to the first match on your list.

 Spread sheet of DNA matches with first match filled in

Using the shared DNA tool, find the other matches in you match list that share DNA with that first one. Fill in the cell next to their names with the same color as the first one.

 DNA matches list with those sharing DNA colored in with the same color.

Find the next person on your match list that wasn’t colored with the first color. Assign that match a different color and fill the cell in the second column with the new color. Fill the second column cell by those matches that share DNA with that match.

 Spreadsheet of DNA matches with a second color assigned to a DNA match

Use the shared DNA tool again to find other matches on your list that share DNA with that match.

 DNA match spreadsheet with two color clusters filled in.

Look down your match list and find the first person that doesn’t have either of the cells colored by it. Pick a third color and fill in the cell in the third column by that match.

 DNA Match List with third color cluster added

Use the Shared DNA tool to find the other DNA matches in your list that share DNA with that match. Color the cells in the third column for those that share DNA with this match.

 DNA Match List with three cluster groups

Look for any matches that don’t belong to the three groups you have already colored in. Assign them a new color. (Is this sounding familiar?)

 DNA match list with four groups assigned a color.

Using the shared matches tool again look for any matches that share DNA with this match and fill in the color in the fourth column.

 DNA match list with four groups colored in.

Keep repeating this pattern until all of the matches in your list have at least one color assigned to them.

Keep in mind that some of your DNA matches may share DNA with more than one color group. This is ok, just color multiple cells with the corresponding colors. This is called overlap and is discussed in more detail here:

These colorful groups now show you the different genetic networks. Each color corresponds to a genetic network and the matches within the same color cluster should be grouped together.

This method of organizing and color coding your DNA matches was developed by Dana Leeds. You can get more information and check our her website here: