Genealogy Chart - How to Use a Fan Genealogy Chart Online Video
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Video:How to Use a Fan Genealogy Chart Online

with Joe Buggy

Genealogy fan charts are a great and easily-read way of keeping track of one's family history and lineage. Here's a video showing how to use online genealogy fan charts.See Transcript

Transcript:How to Use a Fan Genealogy Chart Online

Hi, my name is Joe Buggy. I am a professional genealogist in New York City and today I am going to discuss genealogy fan charts.

Using a Genealogy Fan Chart

So the example we have here: you would start by putting your name in the stem of the fan chart. The general consensus is that you would start with your paternal ancestry on the left hand side of the chart and your maternal ancestry on the right hand side of the chart. So after you have entered your own name, you would then put in your father's name and then your mother's name. Then, you would go back another generation and have your paternal grandparents and your maternal grandparents. You keep working back through the generations until you have filled the chart.

Advantages to Genealogy Fan Charts

There are some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to genealogical fan charts. One of the advantages is that the boxes can be color coded for various reasons depending on what you find interesting in your family history research. So, say for example that you have a lot of people that were born in various states: for example the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. You can color code the boxes then to represent that fact. A lot of people also find the fan chart aesthetically pleasing, they think it is a very nice way to display the information.

Disadvantages to Genealogy Fan Charts

A couple of disadvantages, especially when you start to get toward the outer edges of the fan chart, is that the boxes can get smaller and therefore space is at a premium. Also, as well if you can see here in this line is that the text is slanted. So when you are looking at it straight on, it can be hard to read. This genealogy chart is provided for free on

Other Types of Genealogy Fan Charts

I'm just going to show you a couple of other examples of genealogy fan charts. This particular example: when it is displayed this way it is called a bow-tie genealogy fan chart and if it is displayed this way it is called an hourglass fan chart. The premise behind the chart, whether it is a bow-tie or an hourglass, is pretty much the same. You start with the relevant ancestor in the center : that could be yourself or it could be someone of interest in your family that you have discovered doing your research. And then, you would have the ancestors working towards the top and the descendants of that person then working towards the bottom. In the design of the bow-tie, you would generally have your ancestors to the right hand side and you would have your descendants to the left hand side. This particular chart works well if you find that a particular person in your genealogical research has roughly the same number of descendants and ancestors.

Circle Fan Charts

One last version then of the genealogical fan chart is what we would call a circle fan chart. Again, the premise is the same but you can see a 360 degree circle instead of the semi-circle So once again, you would start with yourself in the middle and your name, and then you would work to the left with your paternal ancestry and to the right with your maternal ancestry. And you would keep working out one generation per ring until you reach the outer edges of the fan chart.

So those are just three different examples of the genealogy fan charts. To learn more about them, you can visit

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