Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Making a Descendants Chart Using Family Tree Maker 2014

I received a question in email from a correspondent last week about making a Descendant's Chart using genealogy software, and so I set out to look at how to do this in the three major software programs I have. 

She specifically wanted a chart that showed a set of parents, and then their children with their spouses (all of them), and all on one sheet of paper.  She had 10 children to the one sheet of paper might be a problem, unless their boxes are very narrow.

This post uses Family Tree Maker 2014, and I'll do posts on Legacy Family Tree 7.5 and RootsMagic 6 also.  Maybe I'll learn something in the process too.

1)  In the Family Tree Maker 2014 "Publish" Workspace and "Collection" tab for my great-grandfather, I clicked on the "Descendant Chart" icon:

2)  When I clicked on the "Create Chart" button in the right-hand panel above, the chart opened with my previous chart settings.  I edited them, picking:

*  Layout = Poster
*  Spacing = Custom
*  Generations = 2
*  Descendatns = All Descendants
*  Background = None
*  Pictures = Thumbnails
*  "Center this page" checked
*  "Include spouse of primary individual" checked
*  "Boxes overlap page breaks" checked
*  In the "Box, border and Line Options" icon, I selected box fill colors for females (pink) and males (blue).
*  In the "Items to Include" icon, I chose Name and Lifespan items

Here is the three generation descendants chart that was created:

This chart is about 20.5 inches wide and 5 inches high.  It would print on two landscape pages full size.

Here is a two-generation chart with the same parameters set:

I think that this is exactly what my correspondent wanted.  It shows the children and their spouses.  Ten children and spouses would probably be about two pages wide - she could reduce the box width if she chose to fit them all.

3)  The user can save the chart as a PDF of graphic image (click on the "Share" button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen) or Print on paper.  Here is the three-generation chart saved as a JPG image:

4)  If my correspondent wants more information for birth and death, she can eliminate the Lifespan item from the Items to Include field and add in Birth and Death items.  She will have to adjust the box width.  Here is the two-generation chart (on two landscape pages):

The three generation chart (with 13 persons in the third generation) spread over three landscape pages.  My correspondent probably wants to keep the Lifespan item rather than use Birth and Death items on her charts in order to reduce the overall chart width.

I haven't resolved all of my media in my FTM 2014 database yet, so not all thumbnails showed.

I didn't see any way to center the Title of this chart, or to edit it to increase the font size or change the color.  Are there such settings?  My preference is a color title and centered on the chart.

5)  I think that Family Tree Maker 2014 (and probably earlier versions of Family Tree Maker) will satisfy my correspondent's wishes as long as she doesn't use thumbnail images for persons and keeps the box width down to fit all of the persons on one landscape page.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Unknown said...

Very interesting. Do the programs allow to save format to user-size specifications? Beyond, letter, legal, ledger?

Large format printing, color and b&w, are found in most towns today. I've made several pdfs 3x5 feet. Five b&w copies ≈ $5.

Gharvey said...

G'day Randy
Not sure about FTM2014 (I've ordered but not received the CD here in Aust)

I can't see why they would change it, but Chart Titles can be edited as you want in FTM2012. have a look at the second icon from the left in the option panel the fonts one(has 2 letter A's in it)
Options include changes to Names, Facts, Chart titles and more, you can change the font type, size, colour, and alignment.

Cousin Russ said...


As I read the paragraph from your reader, I have a couple with 10 children. I created a One Page PDF with the parents and 10 children. I will email it to you. The problem with that requirement is that you can't read the information on the chart. I included the Names, Lifespan and Image or Default profile picture.

My 10 children, including spouses made 19 boxes on one line, meaning about 1/2 inch per person.

I did what was asked, BUT, you can't read it.

There ARE options.

Haven't looked at your Legacy and Roots Magic results yet. Will be interested in seeing how that works out.


Cousin Russ said...

Charles Vignernon,

I think the answer is yes. You can and should Save any chart or report that you might use again. Formatting, etc, then Open that saved report. You do this from the Publish Workspace.

When you bring of those reports / charts from the People workspace, that "saved report" format will be used.


Jim's Girl said...

Randy, I appreciate the trouble you took to help me find the right software to fit my large Irish Catholic families on a single page chart. As Russ says, it is a challenge to make it legible. I will continue to push the limits of FTM2012. But I'll consider the new chart you have written about in FTM2014. It may prove to be a different but better way to present the info my dad wants for his family history book.

Kate, aka Jim's Girl

Jim's Girl said...

Russ, I am the person who asked Randy about descendents charts. I am looking for a single, letter size (legible) chart showing parents and their children, with children's spouses. I haven't been happy with any of the options I have checked so far. Since so many of my families have 8-10 children, it is challenging to keep to one page. Does FTM2014 have a vertical descendents chart? I thought I saw it somewhere but can't find it now. I have been able to adjust the vertical hourglass chart but it has the children on the left, which seems backwards to me. I am considering upgrading from FTM2012, but fear wasting my money.

~Jim's Girl

Cousin Russ said...

Jims Girl,

Where did you see that FTM had a "vertical descendents chart" ?

A one page DESCENDANT Chart that readable will NOT file on one Page. It's already in Landscape mode, at least for Family Tree Maker.

I can only suggest that you challenge ANY genealogy program do meet this requirement. Unless of course if all of the boxes are all over the page.

Think about it for a moment. 10 children on an 11" width piece of paper .....


Jim's Girl said...

Yes, Russ, I can see that 10 kids won't fit across a letter size sheet in one row. I must be mistaken about the vertical descendants chart in FTM; that must have been another software.

I was hopeful that the new version of FTM would have some new features, but it appears very little has been added.

Cousin Russ said...

Jim's Girl,

Before my last reply, I checked.

There are MANY New Features in FTM2014. I have a Family Tree Maker blog ( ) and have posted about 60 Blog Posts on FTM2014 and a long list of Blog Posts to go.


Jim's Girl said...

Russ, I've subscribed to your blog to get up to speed.

Cynthia said...

Hi there, I am looking for a somewhat similar chart & just received my copy of FTM 2014. I was disappointed that they seem to have not expanded upon the charting features for this software line. It is something I've hoped for during every upgrade order. Nonetheless, I've created this report for my own tree & since it is so wide it is rendered nearly useless for sharing with family. I noticed an interesting part of your post I was hoping you could elaborate on. You mentioned the boxes could be resized if necessary. How is this accomplished? I can't seem to find that option when I'm playing with it. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

Ozzy said...

I was trying to create a descendants chart with "photos"...not thumbnails. The photos are better quality, and would give bigger pictures for the 3 gen chart (only 2 kids per gen). The problem was that I couldn't find any way for the person's box to expand vertically to accommodate the size of the picture; so the top of the head, and bottom of the head were cut off. The box will expand to accommodate larger type...but I can't find a way to make it expand for pictures. Am I overlooking something? Any ideas?

Cousin Russ said...


What version of Family Tree Maker are you using?


Ozzy said...

I'm using Family Tree Maker 2014. (Sorry I didn't answer you for a couple of days.) Version

Calcio64 said...

Printing charts is really a sore point with me. These software companies could accommodate us, but noooo. I LOVE Onepage. It did in 4 pages what FTM takes 3000 pages to do. (A pedigree of my dog, printing all names)

However, the names will not fit on one line and Onepage does not break names to use more lines. If the name is longer, it simply won't print.

Onepage also can break a chart. That is, pick my grandfather as the root. Onepage will print his ancestors, then his descendants. Wonderful!

I would like to rally the troops and appeal to the goodness of software programmer hearts to help us out. This is what I propose:

1. Chart like Onepage
2. We can choose ALL names for printing.
3. Let us break a chart (like Onepage does with a "root person"). However let us break it more times. That is we can start with Grandpa's great grandmother. We would break it at her kids so we can get the siblings. But not the siblings kids, except for Grandpa's line. When it gets to Grandpa, we break it again, to show his siblings but not their kids. From Grandpa, it then shows all his and Grandma's kids - plus the marriage partner of each kid. We can select if we want the in-law's ancestors or not. Now,onto the next generations - Grandpa's grandkids. Again, we can choose to show their marriage partner (and their ancestors), and whether to break the chart again or not.

4. The names of each person will appear on one if wanted, or broken into more than one line if we choose. The generations can have a set font size then go down smaller as the chart progresses (if desired).

5. And please God, let us go into this chart and enter, change, edit info. Insert and move a picture, add notes, etc.

6. For pets, print ALL the names. I do not appreciate when FTM says "Chip is already in the database". Yes I know Chip is already there, so put Chip in AGAIN ok?

7. Let us print to a 16x20 pdf, then let us reduce the whole thing to 8x10. It will work if the main part of the names are in a larger font. I have tried reducing to 8x10 and it fits but there is so much wasted white space around the names. A larger font size can easily be used.

8. Onepage is so great, but it has been taken off of the web. The Mormons are working on it, and students at BYU are coding the next generation. But my pleas to them so far do not bring anything concrete.

9. So - either supercharge Onepage or have another software company write up something like it with the suggestions that the people want.

Evan said...

Hi, does this work on mac or is there a online version. I use creately as there are many diagram examples and templates available to use for free. And most importantly its platform independent

Calcio64 said...

As no genealogy software seems interested in Onepage, I am now using Microsoft Word to make my own displays. Like the following. I put a descendant chart inside, surrounded by pictures.

Calcio64 said...

Shalin I am not sure if you were referring to my post about OnePage or the other posts. I believe OnePage can be used on a Mac however the Mormons have stopped any further work on the software. People are desperate for this program and hopefully it can be updated in the future.

Calcio64 said...

Here is another example of making charts by hand. I am using Serif Page Plus version 8. It also comes in a free version. At first I imported the pedigree from Legacy then I just entered the names by hand too. This example is a pedigree but a descendant chart can also be used. The same principle as before, a picture border around the chart. Now why can't any family tree programs offer something like this automatically? Be sure to view this, it is truly gorgeous.

Unknown said...

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