You’ve worked hard compiling your genealogy research into a tree and now you want an attractive way to share it with family and friends, or display it in your own home. Creating a family tree chart is a wonderful way to do that.
Charts come in all shapes and sizes and look lovely hung on a wall or given as a gift. Even if you don’t plan to display your creation, a chart of your family tree can provide a new perspective on your research. Luckily there are some very easy ways to create these visual reports from a tree and this article will show you how.
Almost every downloadable family tree program, from RootsMagic to Legacy Family Tree to Family Tree Maker, offers a chart maker. We have not covered how to use these programs in this article because there are simply too many options and we have decided to focus instead on how to print charts from online tree sites. If you have a favorite downloadable tree program and have not yet looked for an option to print a visual of your tree then we suggest you take a look now.
For more information on finding a family tree program you love read our guide here.
This article will walk you through how to print charts on Ancestry and MyHeritage because they are the most popular places online that offer this option – but we also point you to several other locations that offer free charts at the end.
How to Create Attractive Family Tree Charts from Your Research
Remember that, while almost all online family trees allow a way to print your research, most only do so as a very simple reproduction of your screen or as a text-based report. This article focuses on options to create an attractive printable, visual representation of tree for the purposes of framing, storing as a keepsake, adding to your files or gifting.
How to Print Family Tree Charts on Ancestry
Ancestry.com offers a hugely popular free family tree but they do not offer a wide variety of free charts. Ancestry has partnered with MyCanvas to allow you to create visual representations of your research, but the options are fairly limited. Once you connect your tree to this service you’ll have the choice of a Standard Pedigree Chart (ancestors of one person), a Combination Chart (ancestors of a couple) and a Descendants Chart (descendants of a person).
Because Ancestry redirects you to MyCanvas to create a chart, and this site charges for printing family tree posters, many people don’t realize that you can actually create a chart here and then simply save it for free as a PDF (or print it on your home printer). Doing so allows you to choose any printing service you like for your tree if you do not want to take advantage of the built-in printing service.
To find this option for your own Ancestry Tree, log in to your account and look for Extras in the menu and then Photo Books and Posters. Or you can choose the Print button on your tree (which defaults to printing a very basic version of the tree view you are in) and then choose Posters.
Once you select either of these options you will be brought to a page letting you know that you are leaving Ancestry and then will be directed to MyCanvas. Here you will need to choose Posters from the options (they also print family history books) and then choose the Standard, Combination or Descendants tree.
Once you select an option you will be able to choose a tree, the number of generations and a starting person. After these options are selected you will be brought to an editor where you can add or remove various elements and generally alter your chart until you are happy.
Once you are satisfied, simply choose the print option to print off your creation at home (or to save it as a PDF).
To save as a PDF you will need a PDF printer installed on your computer. Many computers already have one but if you do not you can find many online for free or at a small cost. Basically, these programs just allow you to choose to print to PDF instead of to an actual printer. If you save your file as a PDF you can share it with others this way or send it through another service to be printed. The quality of the produced PDF is OK for most purposes, but make sure to select the high quality option when printing from MyCanvas.
One thing to consider about printing charts yourself, however, is size. Look at the upper right hand corner of your creation to note the size of paper the poster should be printed on for optimal results. Most of us can’t print anything larger than an 8.5″ by 11″ sheet at home. Still, if you have a PDF you have options. There are many, many print on demand services to choose from.
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How to Print Family Tree Charts on MyHeritage
MyHeritage offers a much wider selections of chart options for printing your tree and they also make them easier to access. Each chart can be created and printed at home for free (or as a PDF) or ordered through the MyHeritage printing service at a cost.
If you don’t already have your tree on MyHeritage but want to take advantage of their charts simply head over to their home page here and start a tree for free and then look for the upload GEDCOM option to upload your tree.
For help with this you can read our article about downloading and uploading trees between various programs and services. MyHeritage also offers a free trial here if you would like to gain access to all of their records as well and a more robust family tree site.
Charts can also be accessed in MyHeritage’s free downloadable family tree program Family Tree Builder.
To access the area for creating charts simply select Family Tree from the top menu bar and then select More and Print Charts & Books.
Once you land on this page you will be presented with a wide variety of different options.
MyHeritage chart options include:
- Close family
- Sun chart (the featured image in this article is part of a MyHeritage Sun Chart. exclusive to them)
- Fan chart
Each option offers different views such as vertical or horizontal, or descendants or ancestors. Select the type you want and then scroll down for more options. Many charts have a variety of different styles to choose from as well.
After choosing a style you will select the home person, number of generations, type of information to include and more. You will also be given the option of creating a large tree for printing a poster or a smaller tree for printing at home.
All trees are generated as PDFs. Once you have created one you will be redirected to your charts page where you can find access to the PDF, print or order your creation to be printed by MyHeritage and mailed to you. You will have to judge for yourself about the pricing. As with the MyCanvas service, some options are more expensive than others and you may find a better deal elsewhere. Compare before purchasing, as with any product.
Other Places That Allow You to Create and Print a Free Family Tree Chart
All of the sites below offer some form of visual family tree to be created and printed for free. You will need to upload your GEDCOM to your site of choice to take advantage of this.
- RootsFinder – Rootsfinder is a free online family tree that we really love. You can read all about it here. They offer an attractive fan chart which you will find under Reports.
- FamilySearch – Everyone knows about the largest free genealogy site in the world and they do offer some limited printable chart options.
- Geni – This free family tree service (with a pro version) is actually owned by MyHeritage. They offer one attractive report that you can take advantage of.
- One Page Genealogy – This is a project from Brigham Young University that lets you upload your tree or import from FamilySearch to create charts.
What is the best place to print posters and charts?
If you are not going to go with the built-in printing services that Ancestry, MyHeritage and other sites offer we suggest you use the power of Google to shop around and find an affordable option. Look for a place that allows you to choose the size and orientation you need and upload a PDF. Some sites only allow image files like JPG or PNG. We found quite a few good-looking options but nothing that stood out enough that we would want to recommend it.
The process of printing your family tree into something attractive is easier than it has ever been before, and it’s getting more affordable. Consider taking your tree off of your computer and creating something beautiful that can be presented and shared with family!
Image: Part of a MyHeritage Sun Chart
By Melanie Mayo, Family History Daily Editor