I found a very nice family tree template in a surprising place. It seems perfect for those times when you're building a tree for a friend. Or showing a cousin why family trees are so amazing.
To find this free template, launch Microsoft Excel and click the link for More templates. Search for Family tree generator. (Or download it now.) When you open the template you'll see two tabs: Family Members and Family Tree. When you enter names on the Family Members tab, you're generating a chart on the Family Tree tab. It's pretty cool.
|When you're explaining family relationships to someone, this simple visualization is a big help.|
As an example, I entered a pair of my 4th great grandparents in the Grand Parents fields of the spreadsheet. Here are the steps to follow:
- Click the spreadsheet's Reset Family button to empty all the sample names from the fields.
- Enter the names of the ancestor couple you've chosen. For me, that's Francesco Iamarino and Cristina Iapozzuto. While the original template uses only first names, I want to use first and last names.
- If you use both names, you'll need to turn on Wrap Text for the rows of names, and adjust the row height.
- To do this, use your mouse to select rows 10 through 50 or so. Select Wrap Text (Home / Alignment section). Then select AutoFit Row Height (Home / Format in the Cells section).
- Each time you add a descendant, you can pull down a menu to choose their parents from a list. (Look for the arrow beside the Parents field.)
- Fill in names for each generation.
- Once you finish the "Third Generation Children," click the Create Family Tree button at the top.
- The names may appear cut off. If so, you need to turn on Wrap Text and change the Row Height. But you can't yet, because the row numbers and column letters are not visible.
- Turn on the row and column headings by clicking the View menu and checking Headings in the Show section.
- Set the Wrap Text as explained above, but this time, start at line 5.
- Set the row height by clicking Format on the Home tab and choosing Row Height. I found that a row height of 50 worked well for the names I'd entered. You can experiment with different values until you're happy with the result.
|Enter names for each generation, select their parents, then fine-tune your easy family tree chart.|
When you save your Excel file, you'll see a message about your file containing macros. These macros are the functionality that generates the family tree chart. To keep the functionality:
- Choose Save As.
- Select the 2nd option in the list, Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook.
Now you can print the family tree chart as a PDF file to share. I chose the 11" x 17" tabloid setting and selected Fit Sheet on One Page. This way, I can print the tree onto two letter-sized pages and tape them together. Or I can find someone with a bigger printer tray.
Don't have Excel? Download the Family tree generator template and open it with your spreadsheet software. Let me know if that works or not.
The result is simple-looking (no photos or birth or death years). But what an easy way to help a friend or relative visualize their part of the family tree. Think how nice it would be to create a bunch of these charts for the holidays.