Keeping Notes about your DNA Matches

You are going to have a huge amount of information to work with – far more than anyone can ever hope to retain in their day-to-day memory! 

You need an easy-to-use system to record and update your thoughts/ideas.  It’s almost impossible to avoid using a paper and pen for some of your research, but adding notes for each DNA Match helps keep everything in one easy-to-access place.

Adding Notes to a DNA Match

From your DNA Match list, click on the Match’s Name to view the Match Compare screen.  Within the header of this screen is the option to Add Note – click and a notes box will appear.

  • You can add up to 500 characters within the notes box:

Notes are a good way of reminding yourself of the research you have already undertaken so you don’t keep going over old ground.  Noteworthy information about a match might include: 

  • How the two of you are related – either a specific relationship or notes about where you think the connection may be
  • Information about their tree – is it useful (or is everyone shown as living people…?)
  • Surnames that you know/suspect may connect you and the match
  • Locations that your ancestors have in common
  • Messages – have you and the match been in contact at all?
  • Research Tree – have you added the match/their ancestors to your Research Tree?  Have you managed to connect them to the main body of your tree?

However, once you have saved the notes only the first few words are visible (you can click the note icon to view the full text).  The same applies on your list of matches/shared matches – the information from the example shown above would be limited to:

It makes sense to keep notes on important information brief and at the beginning of your notes.  One option is to use emojis as a form of shorthand to keep the text to a minimum.

Using Emojis in Notes

You may be able to use a keyboard shortcut to type the symbol – make sure your cursor is in the right place within the notes area, then:

  • Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and (at the same time) the semi-colon key – a choice of emojis should appear:
  • Click on the emoji you want to add, then close the pop-up window.
  • Alternatively, go to a website that offers a range of text emojis, (such as, copy a single symbol and then paste it into the text of your note.

As an example, here are notes from one of my matches:

 Which is a brief way of saying:

Even when it is only possible to see a preview of these notes, the important information is visible:

Using notes alongside Ancestry’s Grouping tools enables you to gradually build a picture about each of your matches and how they fit into your family.

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