Build Your Family Tree with Family Tree Maker

By Vanessa Wieland

Build Your Family Tree

There are a lot of tips and tools you can use to build your family tree and keep it organized, but there’s a reason Family Tree Maker is so popular, and that’s because, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use and navigate. However, for those new to the program (and especially to genealogy), there’s a bit of a learning curve. Here are a few tips from our Mastering Family Tree Maker course that are sure to help you with your tree.

4 reasons you should use Family Tree Maker to build your family tree.

Update Those Relationships

Most genealogy software defaults to couples married in the database. However, unmarried couples in trees do occur, so how do you record that when you build your family tree? Family Tree Maker can record different relationship types and statuses (divorced or separated, for example). Learn how to record different types of relationships in Family Tree Maker in lesson 1 of the course.

Establish Birth Order

You should always try and show any children in the order of their birth with the eldest first. Family Tree Maker will default order the children in the order in which they are inputted. If dates are unknown, list the children after the children with known dates, unless there is other information that provides a birth order for the family. Learn more in Mastering Family Tree Maker, starting today!

They asked, Shannon answered

Q: Under what circumstances would you want to have multiple trees in Family Tree Maker?
A. I have trees for different research projects, portions of my larger tree (when they get too unwieldy), and when I am helping friends out. Also, another reason to keep separate trees is if you’re researching both your own and your spouse’s family trees, or one for your father’s side and one for your mother’s.

use the Software to Search

You’ll find that the ability to sync with your online trees comes in very handy and saves a lot of time you’d spend adding information to both. But Family Tree Maker doesn’t just sync with online databases; you can get search hints right in your software that will take you to or Family Search.

Ready to learn more?

The next session of our Mastering Family Tree Maker course starts on Monday, January 14th! Register today!

About your Instructor

Shannon Combs-Bennett is an acclaimed genealogy blogger and frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine. She specializes in several genealogy-related topics, including DNA and genetic genealogy, source citations and analysis, and more. She is a resident of Virginia, where she participates in many genealogy-related organizations and activities. is a participant in the affiliate advertising program. This program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.