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How to Make a Family Tree Diagram (+ Examples)

By Daleska Pedriquez, May 26, 2023

Family trees are created to show the ancestry and family history of an individual.

Making a family tree diagram can help you discover things about your past and feel more connected to your heritage.

Learn how to make a family tree diagram in this post and get examples from Venngage as well as a step-by-step guide on how to use our Family Tree Maker.

Want to create a family tree diagram but not sure where to start? Check out our customizable family tree diagram templates to start off on the right path.


Click to jump ahead:

What is a family tree?

A family tree is a diagram that traces a person’s lineage by showing their ancestors and the generations of families that were built throughout the years.

Here is an example:

Large Family Tree

Based on its name, a family tree is structured like a tree, with the individual as the ‘root’ and their parents, grandparents, and ancestors making up the ‘leaves’ one level at a time.

In a family tree chart, lines are used to connect family members and portray their relationships. Each family member is represented by a shape like a box or a circle with usually their photo inside.

What is the history of making family tree diagrams?

Genealogy or the study of families was the earliest form and application of family trees.

Historically, in Western civilizations, family trees, also known as genealogy charts, were used to depict the ancestry of kings and nobles and verify their claims to royalty and power.

Family trees were maintained for years on end. The family tree of Confucius, for example, is already 2,500 years old and is recorded as the world’s largest family tree with 2 million known descendants.

Today, a genealogy chart is no longer just for aristocrats and important people, but for everyone to record their family history and maintain their family tree.

Should you create a family tree?

If you would like to know more about your family or you want to start recording your family history, then you should definitely make your own family tree.

It is also a great way to find out how your family story relates to important historical events.

More importantly, a family tree can help you identify genetic traits and conditions that run in your family. These are often referred to as genograms.

Related: 10+ Genogram Examples (and How to Create Them)

4 steps to make a family tree diagram

To start creating your family tree diagram, simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Research and prepare information

The first thing you need to do before you start drawing your family tree is to gather information about your family. You can check official birth records and DNA test results or simply talk to a relative or any member of your family who has knowledge about your ancestry.

Depending on how much information you will be able to acquire, it should help you determine how big and how detailed you want your family tree to be. Decide on how many generations you want to include and what information you will display for each family member, such as maiden name, year of birth, and role in the family.

Step 2: Draft your family tree drawing

To draw your family tree, start with a box representing yourself or the ancestor you want to begin with. Family trees can be diagrammed either from the top, bottom or horizontally as long as the root will always be yourself.

Here is an example of a family tree that’s drawn horizontally:

Blue Simple Family Tree Diagram Template

Add more boxes until all your family members have been included. Instead of drawing by hand, save time by using an intuitive design tool like Venngage’s Family Tree Maker to create your family tree. It is specifically made for both designers and non-designers alike so it is extremely easy to use.

Venngage’s Family Tree Maker can help you better visualize your family tree through its user-friendly editor with drag-and-drop features. It allows you to change and connect shapes, add labels, and edit colors and other design elements in a matter of seconds.

Venngage also has dozens of free diagrams and templates that you can customize to make the process even faster and easier.

Step 3: Label the leaves of the tree

Most family trees usually outline up to four generations only to make them easier to understand. That said, make sure that family members and their relationships with each other are clearly illustrated by labeling each box or ‘leaf’ correctly.

Indicate names and roles and any additional information you think may be relevant. Use lines to display relationships between spouses and connect parents with direct descendants like children and grandchildren.

Step 4: Design your family tree diagram

Now, this is the part where you enhance and finalize your family tree. Use family photos to add faces to the people you are trying to introduce with your tree. Color-coordinate shapes, lines, or labels to group generations, differentiate deceased from living relatives, and create a distinction between different relationships.

To make your family tree more attractive and engaging, you can design it with icons, graphics, illustrations, or backgrounds – all of which are provided for free in Venngage’s library. You can also make use of a family tree software to streamline research and access to valuable resources.

Venngage also has a business feature called My Brand Kit that enables you to add your company’s logo, color palette, and fonts to all your designs with a single click.

For example, you can make a family tree diagram template reflect your brand design by uploading your brand logo, fonts, and color palette using Venngage’s branding feature.

Not only are Venngage templates free to use and professionally designed, but they are also tailored for various use cases and industries to fit your exact needs and requirements.

Venngage My Brand Kit

A business account also includes the real-time collaboration feature, so you can invite members of your team to work simultaneously on a project.

Venngage allows you to share your family tree online as well as download it as a PNG or PDF file. That way, your design will always be presentation-ready.

5 Family Tree examples

Here are some family tree examples for inspiration that you can use to create a family tree:

1. Simple family tree

This simple family tree template has a distinguishable tree-like shape and features such as branches and colors. It is editable in Microsoft Excel and Word.

simple family tree


2. Ancestry family tree

If you want a unique and more effectively illustrated family tree, this is the template you’re looking for. It has a horizontal layout with the starting point placed in the middle and extending to the left and right to better display ancestors from both sides of the family:

ancestry family tree

3. Blank family tree

For a more organized and unified family tree, this template is what you should use. It focuses on the structure of the tree and the arrangement of its parts through clearly defined connections and allotting only small spaces for each family member:

blank family tree


4. Graphic family tree

Here’s a template that you can use if you want to represent family members with icons or graphic illustrations instead of photos. It also uses roles as labels instead of names, which is more effective at portraying relationships.

graphic family tree


5. Four generation family tree

Last but not least, here’s a perfect example of a family tree that depicts four generations of family members. If you want your family tree diagram to focus on distant relatives instead of immediate family members, then this template will come in handy:

four generation family tree


FAQs about family tree diagrams

How can you make a family tree diagram with Venngage?

Venngage’s Family Tree Maker lets you create a family tree diagram in 4 simple steps:

  1. Sign up to create an account and use the Family Tree Maker for free
  2. Choose a free template from Venngage’s Templates library
  3. Edit the template to create new shapes, reconnect the lines, add labels, and upload your own images or choose free stock photos and graphics from our library
  4. Download your family tree as a PDF or PNG file or share it online with your family and friends

Is there a template for a family tree?

There are many family tree templates available online. However, using Venngage’s templates means you can also use the smart editor for free and not have to download or purchase a graphic design software just to edit a template. Venngage also offers a Genogram Maker.

How do you start a family tree online?

You can use a variety of online design platforms and software to create a family tree but they may require you to purchase plans and templates. Fortunately, Venngage is a free tool and has free templates to help you create a family tree without any restrictions.

What program do you use to make a family tree?

When it comes to creating a family tree, you have plenty of options including traditional tools like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Check out this blog for the top family tree software picks.

However, if you’re looking for a user-friendly and visually appealing experience, consider Venngage! Venngage provides customizable family tree templates, allowing you to personalize and showcase your family connections with ease. The easy-to-use interface simplifies the process, making it easy for anyone to create a unique and engaging family tree.

Create a family tree using Venngage’s Family Tree Maker to better visualize family relationships

Making a family tree diagram can help you learn about your family history and understand the connections between family members. Use Venngage’s Family Tree Maker to create a well-defined family tree.

About Daleska Pedriquez

Daleska is Venngage’s Marketing Manager. With a background in marketing communications and a deep interest in journalism, she aims to write about exciting topics and make them understandable for everyone.