FamilyTreeDNA: Add A Family Tree

Sunny Morton

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FamilyTreeDNA allows you to add a family tree to your DNA test. Here’s how (and why) you should add a family tree to your FamilyTreeDNA test.

Family Tree DNA Add family tree IO.pngIt’s easy to upload your family tree or pedigree file to FamilyTreeDNA so you can attach it to your DNA test results. Better yet, you can then link DNA matches with known relationships to you to their spot in your family tree. This organizes your genealogy + genetics together in one place and helps you visualize it.

How to Add Your Family Tree at FTDNA

Log in to FTDNA. From your dashboard, click the myTREE menu. You’ll the see two options: build your tree from scratch or upload a GEDCOM file, which is a universal tree file type you can generate from your favorite genealogy website or software. Here’s what it looks like:

Family Tree DNA FTDNA add tree 1 create your tree.jpg

If you follow the prompts to create a new family tree, it’s pretty self-explanatory. When you choose the option to upload a GEDCOM, you’ll see a screen like this:

Family Tree DNA FTDNA upload GEDCOM screen.jpg

Click the red BROWSE button to upload your GEDCOM file. As shown above, fill in a name for your tree and a description with whatever dates and locations would be useful for reference. Click UPLOAD.

After the file processes, you’ll be prompted to select yourself (or whomever the DNA test belongs to) from a list of names on your tree:

Family Tree DNA FTDNA upload add tree select name.jpg

After you choose yourself and the site pulls your information into your profile, you’ll see a Pedigree View showing your tree. And that’s how you upload your tree. But wait, there’s more!

Linking Your DNA Matches to your FTDNA Tree

Once you’ve got your tree uploaded, you can do something very satisfying: link your known DNA matches to their spot on your tree. Here’s how to do this and how it looks.

Family Tree DNA add family tree pedigree test.jpg

  1. Switch over to the Family View from the Pedigree View. (I think it’s easier in this view.)
  2. Find yourself (or the person whose DNA it is) on the tree. In this case, I administer Frank’s test, and he shows up on his own tree three generations up from his great-grandchildren (some of whom have tested).
  3. Click the red Matches icon to open a list of your matches. Frank has done both the Family Finder (autosomal) and Y DNA test, so I have the option to see his matches on either test.
  4. Click and drag known matches in your list over to their spots on the tree. (This is the fun part!) Choose “Link to [name]” option to confirm the connection. (See the image below.)
  5. If you haven’t put your match on your tree yet, but there is a spouse, parent, sibling or child of that person, you can drag the match over to that relative’s profile. That was the case with Seneca, who wasn’t yet on her great-grandfather’s tree. I dragged her match profile onto the top of her brother’s tree profile, then selected the option to Add Sister, as shown below.

Family Tree DNA FTDNA add sister sibling link profile.jpg

New Linked Relationship View in Match List

After linking your matches to their spots on the tree, you’ll see a couple of differences in your FamilyTreeDNA experience. First, the tree will show a dot indicating that this person has been identified on your DNA match list. This can be super helpful if you’re fishing for matches in a certain part of your tree, following the strategies outlined in Finding An Ancestor Using Your DNA (our quick reference guide).

Second, when you view your match list you’ll see a fantastic new column: Linked Relationships. You can see it below in Frank’s match list, after I linked him to his three great-grandchildren who have tested:

Family Tree DNA FTDNA link matches to tree linked relationship.jpg

Now, instead of just the Relationship Range based on shared DNA (which gives several suggestions as to possible relationships), I can see exact relationships of matches to Frank under Linked Relationship, based on where I put them in his tree. Again, super satisfying and a convenient at-a-glance reminder!

Did you notice that all 3 linked relationships shown above are for Frank’s great-grandchildren, but their Relationship Range didn’t mention that possible relationship?? If you roll over the Relationship Range column, it explains that your genetic relationship is highly like to fall within these upper and lower relationship limits—but it doesn’t show you all possibilities. So while the Relationship Range suggestions can be helpful, it pays to look at total shared DNA and consult the Shared cM Project yourself to see more possible relationships to genetic matches. If you’ll do this, you’ll see that the full reported range of shared DNA for great-grandparent/great-grandchild relationships is 464-1486 cM. All 3 great-grandchildren fall within that range for Frank—and Alex’s is almost exactly the average shared cM of 881 for great-grandparents/great-grandchildren.

Learn DNA Skills You Need

The DNA journey for family history is exciting—but it takes skills. We teach those skills. We believe YOU can DO the DNA! And we are here to help, with just the level of education you’re ready for.

  • Get started with our inexpensive quick reference guides. Since you read this article, we especially recommend the Family Finder, YDNA and mtDNA guides.  Start shopping!

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  • If you’re interested in YDNA, get started for free with our YDNA FREE Get Started Course. It will teach you the many ways YDNA might help you answer your questions about your family history. The YDNA FREE Get Started Course is an excerpt from our YDNA for Genealogy Course, which takes you deeper into understanding Y-haplogroups and using them in genealogy research (as well as other topics such as YDNA matching, surname project participation, and when to use Big Y).

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  1. Kathy Biewenga

    Excellent! I did my DNA on Ancestry and uploaded to Family Tree and My Heritage, love the chromosome browsers and cluster tools. Which one of these programs is the best to create a family tree or do it in all of them?

    • Sunny Morton

      I’m glad you’re making progress! Either Ancestry or MyHeritage would be the best place to build your family tree, depending on where your family is from (Ancestry has deeper strength in U.S. records and trees, and MyHeritage is strong for many parts of Europe). You can build your tree completely for free on Ancestry, and it’s free to build a tree with up to 250 people on MyHeritage. At both places, you’ll need to subscribe to access their full collections of historical records, which is where you’ll find the information you need to extend your tree. One suggestion would be to subscribe to one of the sites for a year, then download a copy of your tree and upload it on the other site, and subscribe there for a year. You can keep a tree on multiple sites for convenience; just choose one of them as the “master” tree you keep fully updated.


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