Family Trees

A traditional way to display genealogy, a fan chart begins with you and chronicles your ancestral lineage on both sides of the family.

Family Trees

Source: Martha Stewart Living, Volume 68 April 1999


A family tree can be a beautiful work of art as well as an informative genealogical record. This fan chart and our hand-lettered tree are simple projects that yield striking results. Both plot ascendant lineage, meaning that they begin by charting the present generation at the bottom and expand upward as they go back in time.



  1. Print out our template, and enlarge it to the desired size on a photocopier. You can also have it reproduced on high-quality paper at an office-supply store.

  2. Start by writing your name in the circle labeled "First Generation" at the bottom of the chart. When writing the names on the chart, first enter them lightly with a pencil, then trace over them in pen; gently erase any stray pencil marks.

  3. The half-circle shape above your name is for your parents' names. Write your father's name on the left of the dotted line, and your mother's on the right, then fill in the date of their marriage on the dotted line. Your lineage on your father's side will branch out to the left, your mother's to the right.

  4. Fill in the names of their respective parents, and work back through the generations until you can go no further. You'll probably have some empty spaces because at some point you may have difficulty gathering the names of certain ancestors; these gaps of information are a part of every family's history.


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