4 Free Family Tree Templates and Tips for Filling Them Out

By Courtney Henderson
FIve free family tree templates from Family Tree Magazine.

You can use a family tree template for two purposes: to keep track of your family history information and to share it with others. Whether you’re a beginner or a longtime genealogy researcher, you’ll want to use family tree charts that follow a standard format for filling in key details about your family history. Even the experts here at Family Tree University regularly use such family tree charts for their own research. The free genealogy forms in this download utilize some of the family tree template formats we like best.

In this collection, we’ve provided two decorative family tree templates, a five-generation ancestor chart, a family group sheet designed for recording information about a nuclear family, and a useful relationship chart to help you deduce how a specific family member is related to you as a special bonus.

A family tree chart is so much more than just a thoughtful gift for a grandparent, aunt or cousin. Hang one in the nursery of a newborn infant to commemorate generations of ancestors past, prop it up on the table at a family reunion so that everyone can peruse your hard work, or display one in your genealogy workspace for research inspiration and reference.

What’s Included in Your 4 Free Family Tree Templates

The variety of genealogy chart styles in this free download will give you different options for recording, displaying and sharing your family history. You’ll also receive a bonus relationship chart, a handy reference for figuring out how you’re related to distant relatives.

Family Tree Template #1: Autumn Design Family Tree Template

Family Tree Template #1: Autumn Design Family Tree Template

Celebrate five generations of ancestral history with this lovely Autumnal family tree template. On this chart, your family research information sits atop a beautiful background photograph. Document details such as name, birth date and place, marriage date and place, as well as death date and place. Display in a simple frame so as not to overpower the bright colors.

Family Tree Template 2: Leafy Illustration Family Tree Template

Family Tree Template #2: Leafy Illustration Family Tree Template

This hand-illustrated family chart has space for three generations of family names. The simple style and design makes it perfect for hanging above a newborn’s crib on the nursery wall or as a gift from grandma at a baby shower. Place in a dark wood frame to lend life to the tree sketches.

Family Tree Template 3: Five Generation Family Tree Chart

Family Tree Template #3: Five-Generation Family Tree Chart

This basic “pedigree chart” evokes the genealogy traditionalist in all of us.  It’s the perfect tool for recording and referencing key facts about your family tree. On it, you’ll document names and birth, death and marriage details for five generations of your family. Use as a personal resource in your family research file, or keep on the wall in your office next to the calendar and bulletin

Family Tree Template 4: Family Group Sheet

Family Tree Template #4: Family Group Sheet

Use this essential family tree form to track specific information on an ancestor and his or her nuclear family, including spouse and children. This layout will help you keep track of details about relatives who aren’t direct ancestors — siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. — and assemble your full genealogy. The family group sheet also includes space for notating your sources, which you can list on the back or a separate sheet. This will help you remember where you found each piece of information.

Family Tree Template Bonus: Relationship Chart

BONUS: Relationship Chart

From second cousins three times removed to fifth cousins once removed, use this essential tool to identify an unknown relationship between family members through their most recent common ancestor. Few can contest that the further back in a family line we plunge, the more complicated it becomes to determine an exact relationship. Tape this resource to your desk or slip into a sleeve at the front of your research binder, and in the future it will only take you a few seconds to identify those fourth cousins.

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Tips for Filling Out Your Free Family Tree Templates

It sounds like an easy enough starting point: Fill out a family tree chart. But once you have the basic family history forms in hand, this seemingly simple task can become bewildering. Where do your siblings, aunts and uncles go? How do you deal with grandma’s second marriage? Do you use her maiden or married name? And what do all those numbers mean?

Not to worry. After you’ve learned how to fill in a standard genealogy chart, you’ll see why generations of genealogists have found them so handy: They let you pack all your essential family facts onto a few sheets for instant reference. And even if you’re a total beginner, you can master pedigree paperwork in a jiffy. Just follow these five guidelines and you’ll be filling out those free family tree templates like a pro.

1. Write surnames in capital letters.

The all-caps approach lets you (or someone reading your family tree template) immediately distinguish last names from first and middle names. At first, this might seem unnecessary. But when you run into kin named Guillaume GAUTIER de LACHENAYE, Sebastiano Giovanni DI CARLO and the like, you can see the importance.

2. If you know middle names, spell them out.

Naturally, this helps you distinguish Grandpa William Randolph Reynolds from Grandpa William Robert Reynolds. Remember, too, that some people went by their middle names. For example, Charles George Michael Hauck might have been known to all as Michael.

3. Always record nicknames, denoting them in quotation marks.

Again, you want to show your ancestors’ full identities, so you can match up family history to the right relative. This is especially useful for kin whose nicknames don’t relate at all to their real names, such as Everett “Butch” Smith. Listing the nickname on your family tree template will remind you to check records for that name, too, as well as help you distinguish between ancestors on your family tree chart who have the same name.

4. List women’s maiden names, not their married names.

Since you’re recording your female ancestors right next to their husbands, including their married names on your family tree template is redundant. If you don’t know a woman’s maiden name, note that with a question mark or simply skip the surname.

5. Format dates as day, month, full year.

For consistency, genealogists write dates on their family tree charts European-style, flip-flopping the American convention of month, day, year. To avoid any potential confusion, they also use the month’s abbreviation (we suggest putting it in capital letters) instead of a numeral. It’s obvious what 12 AUG 1836 means, whereas 12/8/1836 isn’t so clear: Is that August 12 or December 8? If you haven’t yet established an exact date, you can use qualifiers such as “by 1836,” “before 1911” or “after 20 May 1893.”
Now you’re well-qualified to put these pointers into practice. So go ahead, download your free collection of 4 Free Family Tree Templates and get busy chronicling past generations.