5 Tricks for Using Evernote in Your DNA Research

By Diane Haddad


This guest post was written by Kerry Scott, blogger at Clue Wagon and author of a new book on the Evernote software and its potential for genealogists, How to Use Evernote for Genealogy.

There are two kinds of genealogists: those who are overwhelmed by their DNA results and those who haven’t done DNA testing yet. Seeing that list of hundreds of cousins is exciting, but humbling for even the most skilled family historians. Who are all of these people? How do they fit into your family tree?

Evernote can help you get your arms around all of that data so you can begin to make sense of it. Here are five ways you can start:

  1. Use the Web Clipper to clip trees when you see them. Your cousins matches may make their tree private at some point, so don’t wait if you see something you might need later. Store that information in Evernote, so you can find it again even if it’s no longer online. You can clip and save your chromosome browser views as well.
  2. Use tags to track your matches. Whether it’s an AncestryDNA username, a GEDmatch kit number, or some other useful tidbit, you can create a tag to make it easier to find it again. It may take months (or years) to figure out how you’re connected to a particular cousin, but tags can shorten that process considerably by allowing you to pull together seemingly unrelated clues to find patterns.
  3. Keep your DNA educational materials in Evernote. Any genealogist will tell you that learning how to work with DNA is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember that Evernote is a great place to store the PDFs you have from Family Tree University courses, Family Tree Magazine, blog posts, and other sources. You’ll be able to find them easily using Evernote’s powerful search feature, so you can re-read sections as they become relevant to your research.

  4. Create a page for each chromosome. The longer you work with your DNA results, the more data you’ll gather on which parts of your DNA come from which ancestors. Breaking out your data by chromosome helps you speed this process up. I’ve learned that a huge chunk of my DNA chromosome 9 comes from one of my Norwegian lines, so when I have new matches on that chromosome, I know where to look first.
  5. Save reports as PDFs, then store them in Evernote. If you’ve used GEDmatch for any length of time, you know that it’s a powerful tool … except when the site’s down and you have a tantalizing clue you can’t follow up on. If you run a one-to-many report (the one with the list of your closest matches) once a week or so, you can save it as a PDF. If GEDmatch goes down, you’ll still have that report to refer to. Even better, you’ll be able to search it in Evernote, which makes it much easier to find a particular kit number, match name, or email address.

The more organized you are, the better you’ll be at translating cousin matches into new branches on your family tree. Using Evernote will ensure that you can find what you need—and spot those elusive clues. Learn about more ways Evernote can help your research in How to Use Evernote for Genealogy, available on Family Tree Shop.