DNA Testing

Discovering your DNA Family

A Practical Guide to Finding your Family using Ancestry DNA

Working with DNA is like a jigsaw puzzle.  If you were building a jigsaw of a beautiful tropical beach you would need a methodical approach.

Follow the links within each section for further guidance, or
view all the free DNA resources here.

Divide your Matches into Groups
  • Add notes to help you remember what you’ve discovered about each match.
  • Identify matches from your known family to separate Maternal/Paternal matches (if possible).
  • Identify groups of Shared Matches and create/apply Ancestry Colour Coded Groups – see here.
Look for patterns within each Shared Match Group
  • Try to find “Significant Ancestors” (ancestors who appear in several trees within a group).
  • People who are your matches’ ancestors they are likely to be your ancestors too – or should lead you in the direction of your Direct Line Ancestors.
  • If you can’t find Significant Ancestors, look for other patterns – eg, surnames or locations.
Build your Research Tree
  • Recreate the trees of your matches within your Research Tree.  Use your Research Tree to work out how your matches are related to each other and who they share as common ancestors. 
  • See here for instructions on creating Floating Branches and here for some tips and tricks on managing your Research Tree.
  • If you have matches who do not have a tree (or have a very small tree), build it for them.  See here for ways to work out who your matches are, so you can research their family history.
  • If you’ve copied a match’s tree and it doesn’t make sense there could be errors in the tree you’ve built/copied, or perhaps the paper records are concealing an adoption or misattributed parent(s).
Connect the Floating Branches
  • In a simple world, someone from one Shared Match Group would marry someone from another.  One of their children would go on to marry someone from another group and “all” you need to do is move through the generations, connecting the Floating Branches until you reach your parents.
  • Making the final connection can be the hardest step – getting stuck at the “which brother is my Father?” stage is not unusual.  You may need to persuade relatives to test to reach a conclusion.

You can view/save a pdf of this post here:

Ancestry, Genetic Genealogy

Working with your Ancestry DNA Match list

Ancestry DNA Match List

Ancestry’s DNA match list, and the trees created by your matches, are the starting point for discovering your own DNA family.  

It can be difficult to know where to start when you’re offered so much information at once.  Today’s information sheet guides you through the  information available within your match results.  It also shows you how to use the tools available for searching, sorting and filtering. 

You can find the new information sheet here: 
Working with your Ancestry DNA match list

Click here to see all the free information sheets currently available.

Ancestry, DNA Testing, Genetic Genealogy

Adding Notes to your Ancestry DNA Matches

Feb 2019:  Ancestry’s site update means that most Chrome Extensions no longer function.  MedBetterDNA does still work on the “old” style pages, so is still worth installing.

You can find updated guides to using Notes here and here.

This year a few new tools and ideas have become available in the world of Genetic Genealogy.

One of my favourites has been the MedBetterDNA extension for the Chrome browser which (amongst other things) lets you view any notes you’ve added to your Ancestry DNA matches on the main match list – no need to keep clicking icons or opening/closing matches, the notes are just there, in front of you.  🙂

Combining MedBetterDNA with the idea of adding text emojis to the notes (eg, 🌺 🔵 💜) is an approach that can make it so much easier to get an overview of your match list and see at a glance any potential patterns/similarities between them.

You can find (the now out of date!) information sheet about using the MedBetterDNA extension, text emojis and Ancestry Notes together here: Adding Notes to your Ancestry DNA Matches

The updated version can be found here.

Click here to see all the information sheets currently available.

This is my first post since the new GDPR regulations came into force, so there have been a few tweaks to keep  the site in line with current requirements.  You may find you need to re-confirm your consent to cookies, the privacy policy can be found here and the site now has a SSL certificate so has a web address starting “https://…”