Organizing Matches with the Leeds Method
The Leeds Method is a simple and colorful way to organize your DNA matches using color coded clusters.
We here at Your DNA Guide love new ideas, especially ones that have to do with color! We are excited about Dana Leeds’ big colorful idea to organize matches. We have just provided our version here. PLEASE please head over to her website to get more information: https://dnawithdana.com
The goal of the Leeds method is to help you quickly identify groups of people in your match list who are likely to share a common ancestor with each other. Grouping your matches often makes it easier to identify a common ancestor.
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 or Numbers (for you Mac users out there!). The data used in the images here is real (the names have been changed, though).
Pick a color and fill in the space next to the first match on your list.
Using the Shared Matches tool, find the other matches in your 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.
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.
Using the Shared Matches tool again, fill the cell in the second column by those matches that share DNA with this second match.
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.
Use the Shared Matches 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.
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?)
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.
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. Theoretically, each of the four colors should correspond to one of your four grandparents.
Do you want more information on how to use this tool? Check out our Next Steps quick sheet for all the details.