How to add siblings on ancestry

A half-sibling relationship cannot be added to an Ancestry tree without first creating their common parent. Sometimes you have the details of the siblings but don’t know anything about their parents.

You may also encounter scenarios where two siblings have been incorrectly assigned both parents in your Ancestry tree – and you want to fix this.

We’ll cover all scenarios in this article.

Table of Contents

How To Add A Half Sibling In An Ancestry Tree

  1. Add the parent in common.
  2. Add a brother or sister to the existing child entry.

How to add siblings on ancestry

At this point, you may choose to add a spouse to the parent entry. By default, Ancestry will set the spouse as being a parent to both siblings. This represents them as full siblings, which is not what you want.

You’ll find options at the bottom of the screen to deselect the parental relationship for one or both children.

In the example below, both Anne and John were ticked yes when I opened the edit screen of the new spouse. I have deselected Anne as a child relationship.

How to add siblings on ancestry

How To Add Half Siblings To Someone With Two Parents

When you add a brother or sister to a person in your Ancestry tree with two parents, Ancestry defaults to a full relationship. In other words, the new sibling is entered as a child of both parents.

You will need to edit the relationship of the new sibling and remove the link to one parent.

Let’s take an example of giving John Smith a half-sister on his maternal side. The “Add Sister” dialog box will default to two shared parents – you can’t change that here.

This is what you end up with, and it does not represent the genetic structure:

How to add siblings on ancestry

So, the next step is to remove this paternal relationship. In our example, we will remove it from Anne.

In order to change relationsihps, you open the person’s profile page (click on the person and choose “Profile”). The Edit drop-down menu at the top right of the page has an “Edit Relationships” item.

How to add siblings on ancestry

In our scenario, we are removing the father from this person. This action doesn’t delete the father from your tree. It deletes the incorrect relationship of father-daughter.

How to add siblings on ancestry

At this point, if you return to view John in the tree – you’ll see this:

How to add siblings on ancestry

But if you stay on the “Edit Relationship” screen, you can also add a new person as the father. This new parent will not be assigned as father to Mary’s half-sibling, John.

The tree view would look like this:

How to add siblings on ancestry

How To Change A Relationship From Full To Half Sibling

We’ve actually covered this halfway through the previous scenario.

You have a situation where someone has two parental relationships and you need to remove one of them. Pull up the “Edit Relationship” screen and remove the unwanted relationship.

How to add siblings on ancestry

What If You Don’t Know The Common Parent?

Adding half-sibling relationships is a little inflexible with There has to be a parent already in the tree. But you may not know any details about the parent.

Unfortunately, you have to create a place-holder parent before you can add the half-sibling relationship.

When the common parent is paternal, I tend to leave the default surname to match the first half-sibling I entered. That’s just laziness on my part, as the last name is pre-populated by Ancestry when you add a father. I should probably treat the placeholder fathers and mothers the same: set the last name to “Unknown”.

If you’ve inferred the relationship from DNA evidence, you may not even know if the common parent is maternal or paternal. What do you do in this situation?

Well, you’ve got to choose either “add father” or “add mother”. But it doesn’t matter which you go with. You can use the option buttons on the Basic Edit Page to set the gender to “Unknown” if you wish.

If your tree is public, it’s a good idea to add a comment to the placeholder profile. You could give other Ancestry users a clue as to why you’re confident about the half-sibling relationship without knowing the details of the parent.

Other Relationships

If you’re trying to add other less “common” relationships, you may be clicking around the Ancestry tree profile – wondering how to achieve what you want. We have a few other articles that may help.

Siblings are related to each other through their parents, so siblings are attached to each other in a tree through their parents as well. This means that before a sibling can be added to someone in your tree, at least one of their parents must already be in the tree.

If a parent isn’t in the tree yet, add them first. If you don’t know the name of a parent, add them as “Unknown,” then add a child to the unknown parent.

Click on a parent of the person you’re adding. This should be the shared parent for a half sibling or either parent for a full sibling.

In the card that appears, click Tools > Add relative > Child.

At the bottom of the card that appears, in the Parents section, select the correct set of parents for the person.

Enter the rest of the sibling's information and click Save.

Adding stepsiblings and stepparents to a tree

To add a stepsibling to a tree, add the stepparent first, then add their child.

Click the family view button . If you're already viewing the tree in family view, nothing will change.

In your tree, click on the parent who’s married to a stepparent. For example, if Bob’s mom is married to Bob's stepdad, click on Bob’s mom.

In the card that appears, click Tools > Add relative > Spouse.

At the bottom of the screen, uncheck Include these individuals as children of this spouse. If this option doesn't appear, skip this step.

Add the stepparent’s information and click Save.

In your tree, click on the stepparent you just added.

In the card that appears, click Tools > Add relative > Child.

At the bottom of the card that appears, in the Parents section, select the option that includes Unknown Mother / Father.

Enter the rest of the information about the stepsibling and click Save.

Correcting a full or half sibling error

If someone in your tree mistakenly appears to be a full or half sibling, correct the issue by changing which parents they’re attached to.

In your tree, click on someone who mistakenly appears to be a full or half sibling.

In the card that appears, click Profile.

In the top-right corner of their profile page, click Edit > Edit relationships.

Listing them as a half sibling: Click the X next to the parent they don’t share with their half sibling, then click Remove. They should now appear as a half sibling.

Listing them as a full sibling: Click Add father or Add mother (whichever parent is missing). In the field that appears, start typing the name of their second parent, select that parent from the dropdown list, and click Save.

How to add siblings on ancestry

One of the most frequent comments i hear from ancestry members is, my family tree goes back eight (or ten or twelve) generations, and i want to include all of them in my family history book. so just to clear up any confusion: when you create a mycanvas family history book, you have to start with three, four or five generations. How to add more generations to your family tree on ancestry. How to add more generations to your family tree on ancestry. the pedigree view lets you see several generations of your family at once and easily navigate to each member of your family. the individual on the far left side of the tree is the root' individual of the pedigree view. root' simply means that this person is in the primary position of. The pedigree view lets you see several generations of your family at once and easily navigate to each member of your family. the individual on the far left side of the tree is the root' individual of the pedigree view. root' simply means that this person is in the primary position of the pedigree view and his or her ancestors are being. It's a great way to see your family grow when adding siblings, children, cousins, aunts and uncles. i've been using this new feature for over a month and it's been great to be able to view more of my tree as i expand generations of my ancestors. in the new family view, i love being able to quickly add siblings and aunts and uncles and get the.

How to add siblings on ancestry

Custom Family Tree Printable 5 Generation Template Instant

The 10th generation by itself, will contain 512 ancestors. but a 10 generation list of ancestors contains 1,022 because this is the total number of ancestors for the 2nd to the 10th generation inclusive. ancestors are traditionally recorded on a pedigree chart. here is a description of the most commonly used coding system on pedigree charts. Unable to merge family trees. it's not possible to merge family trees, but you can copy people one by one between trees. to copy someone to another tree, on their profile page, click “tools,” then “save to tree.”. it's not currently possible to merge trees on ancestry®, but the topics below may make it easier to combine information. Depending on how many generations have to be listed in your family tree we have chosen the most popular ones: 4 generation family trees, 5 generation family trees, 6 generation family trees and for those that need to go back further, 7 generation family trees. see also: free catalogs show more.

How to add siblings on ancestry

The term “half-sibling” is used to represent the family relationship of two or more children who share only one biological parent. One parent due to a divorce or widowhood, may remarry and a child or children are born to this new union. The original or oldest child and any new additions are considered half-siblings; a half-brother or half-sister. Compared to first-degree relatives such as a parent or siblings with the same two parents, half-siblings are considered second-degree relatives.

Another variation is a step-relative. The individual that a person remarries becomes a step-mother or step-father. In turn the blood-related children from each spouse becomes stepchildren to the new parent and a step-sibling to the other siblings.

When developing the family tree the core is the direct blood relatives; parents and grandparents. However, if there was a remarriage by any parent those new individuals must be added in. On the family tree, out from the blood parent goes a horizontal line to the other spouse with the information (names, dates). Down from that name will be any children of that union (the half-siblings). With those siblings would be their information including who they married and their children. Any half-siblings from this relationship should have a vertical line connecting them to the other half-siblings.

To assist in putting such family trees together is the Family Tree Templates site. It offers up a variety of different family tree charts, including one for adoptive parents. Additional sites which display the half-siblings and step-siblings is My Heritage which allows the researcher to fill in the blanks of a tree online and then print out the completed tree. There is also WikiTree site with several free printable diagrams to choose from to create a family tree especially for half-siblings.

The diagram offers a simple version of a family tree with a step-mother and half-siblings.

On the surface, family trees sound simple, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Once a family starts to involve ex spouses, second spouses and step and half-siblings, condensing it into a family tree can get complicated. But there are ways to include former spouses in a family tree without making things too messy.

Designing Your Own Tree

There are official standard methods of creating generation charts of biological ancestors, but if you’re putting together a family tree for personal reasons, you can have a lot more freedom with it. You can even design your own key to indicate the different types of relationships in your family tree – for instance, a dotted horizontal line might represent a dissolved marriage, while a solid one means the marriage is still standing. One of the most common ways of denoting a divorced couple is to draw a horizontal line between the two ex spouses and insert a diagonal line into the horizontal line to symbolize divorce.

When to Include Ex Spouses

If you’re creating your family tree for purely genealogical purposes, you need to include former spouses only if they involve a biological relation to you, such as a half-sibling. Some genealogy charts, like five-generation ancestor charts, include only ancestors and exclude siblings, meaning you’d include all of your ancestors regardless of whether they remained married, and you’d leave out any of their spouses who aren’t your direct ancestors. However, if you’re designing your own family tree and would like to include former spouses for personal reasons, you may do so at your own discretion.

Denoting Sibling Relationships

Where there’s a family with multiple marriages, there are often varying types of sibling relationships: full siblings, half-siblings and step-siblings. There are a few ways to indicate these relationships on your family tree. Consider a half-sibling relationship, for example. Perhaps your mother and father divorced after having one child (you), and then your mother remarried and had another child. The second child would be your half-sibling on your mother’s side.

You would draw this section of your family tree as follows: Connect your mother and father with a horizontal line, then draw a vertical line downward from their relationship to the symbol representing you, their child. Insert a diagonal line through your parents’ connecting horizontal line to represent their divorce. Add a horizontal line between your mother and her current husband, then a vertical line downward from their relationship to a symbol representing your half-sibling.

For a step-sibling, structure your family tree similarly, except draw the vertical line downward from your step-parent’s symbol to your step-sibling’s symbol. This indicates that the sibling is not biologically related to either of your parents.

How to add siblings on ancestry

Ancestry’s ThruLines tool is its latest brainchild for helping you place your DNA matches in the right place on your tree. ThruLines won’t solve all your match mysteries, but it’s a HUGE step forward. Mostly because it helps you visualize how everything—your genetic tree and your genealogical tree—comes together.

Watch this quick video introduction to ThruLines—and then read over the summary below.

Collect known cousins from your DNA match list

Before ThruLines came along, Ancestry could help you find other tested descendants of your ancestors if you both had public trees with your common ancestors listed. The site would point them out using their classic leaf hints. But if there weren’t obvious tree connections between you, it was pretty much up to you to fill the gaps on your tree between you and your match.

Ancestry’s ThruLines tool aims to help you fill in those gaps by searching other Ancestry public or private-but-searchable trees for genealogy connections between your tree and the one posted by your DNA match. Then ThruLines draws trees to illustrate possible genealogical paths that connect you. You can explore your ThruLines suggestions from your DNA home page, as shown below:

How to add siblings on ancestry

ThruLines are organized by common (or potential common) ancestors between you and your matches, based on your tree data:

How to add siblings on ancestry

Click on an ancestor’s name to explore ThruLine tree reconstructions showing your DNA matches as fellow descendants:

How to add siblings on ancestry

As shown in the numbered areas above:

Several matches may appear in your reconstructed tree, depending on how many matches have tested in a particular branch of your family. (In this case, the ThruLines can show me 15 matches through Thomas Hazelwood.)

Ancestors who are present in your tree appear in solid boxes.

Dropdown menus let you view the matches that descend through each branch of the family.

Potential common ancestors (suggested by tree connections) appear in dotted-line boxes.

Using Ancestry ThruLines

To participate in ThruLines, AncestryDNA customers need to link their DNA results to a public or private searchable family tree, and your matches need to do the same. Preferably, your trees will have at least 3-4 generations. Make sure you’ve added whatever details you can about dates, places and family relationships, not just for direct ancestors but for those siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins who may become those “missing links” in your ThruLines experience.

What I love about ThruLines is the powerful visualization you get for better understanding your overall tree. When you start working on any particular family line, check to see whether ThruLines shows you any DNA matches who share that descent. This is also a great way to see who has tested before your big family reunion (or, on the contrary, which branch doesn’t seem to have any DNA matches yet). (Speaking of family reunions, here are more tips on talking about DNA at your next family reunion.)

Remember that the tree reconstruction you see is only as good as the tree data. That’s worth restating: these trees are not DNA based. They are based only on the genealogical data in trees! You need to verify the tree data yourself. Here is a good example, where ThruLines is suggesting that my mom is a descendant of her adopted father, based solely on her DNA match with me (her daughter).

Do I Trace My Adopted Family, Birth Family, or Both?

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    Almost every adoptee, no matter how much they love their adopted family, experiences a twinge when faced with a family tree chart. Some are unsure whether to trace their adopted family tree, their birth family, or both — and how to handle the differentiation between their multiple families. Others, who for various reasons have no access to their own personal family history prior to their adoption, find themselves haunted — by the family whose names will never be documented in their genealogy, and the family tree somewhere in the world with an empty space on the branch where their name should be.

    While some people insist that genealogies are only meant to be genetic, most agree that the purpose of a family tree is to represent the family — whatever that family might be. In the case of adoption, the ties of love are generally stronger than ties of blood, so it is absolutely appropriate for an adoptee to research and create a family tree for their adopted family.

    Tracing Your Adopted Family Tree

    Tracing the family tree of your adoptive parents works pretty much the same way as tracing any other family tree. The only real difference is that you should clearly indicate that the link is through adoption. This in no way reflects on the bond between you and your adopted parent. It just makes it clear for others who may view your family tree that it is not a bond of blood.

    Tracing Your Birth Family Tree

    If you’re one of the lucky ones who knows the names and details of your birth parents, then tracing your birth family tree will follow the same path as any other family history search. If however, you do not know anything about your birth family, then you will need to consult a variety of sources — your adoptive parents, reunion registries, and court records for nonidentifying information that may be available to you.

    Options for Combined Family Trees

    Since the traditional genealogy chart does not accommodate adoptive families, many adoptees create their own variations to accommodate both their adoptive family as well as their birth family. Any way you choose to approach this is just fine, as long as you make it clear which relationship links are adoptive and which are genetic — something that can be done as simply as using different colored lines. Other options for combining your adopted family with your birth family on the same family tree include:

    • Roots & Branches – A slight variation of the typical family tree is a good choice for someone who knows little about their birth family, or who doesn’t really want to trace their genetic family history. In this case, you can include the names of your birth parents (if known) as the roots, and then use the branches of the tree to represent your adopted family.
    • Double Family Trees – A good option if you want to include both your adoptive family and your birth family in the same tree is to use one of several variations on the “double” family tree. One option includes a trunk where you record your name with two sets of branching tops – one for each family. Another option is the double pedigree chart, such as this Adoptive Family Tree from Family Tree Magazine. Some people also like to use a circle or wheel pedigree chart with their name in the center – using one side for the birth family and the other side for the adoptive or foster family.
    • Classroom Alternatives for Young Children – Adoptive Families Together (ATF) has developed a series of free printable worksheets for teachers to use in place of the traditional family tree for classroom assignments. These alternative family trees are appropriate for children of all ages, and can more accurately accommodate a wide variety of family structures.

    The most important thing for you to keep in mind when faced with creating a family tree is that how you choose to represent your family really doesn't matter that much, as long as you make it evident whether the family links are adoptive or genetic. As for the family whose history you choose to trace – that's an entirely personal decision best left up to you.

    Even the most uncomplicated of families extend beyond Mom, Dad and kids. You most likely have aunts, uncles and cousins to take into account, and if you’re building a family tree, you might like to include them. Fortunately, creating a family tree that features extended family members is a pretty simple process.

    Gather Family Information

    Before you start your tree, make a list. Include every family member you plan to put on your family tree, including aunts, uncles and cousins. In total, your list should feature:

    • Parents
    • Brothers and sisters, including half-siblings
    • Children
    • Grandparents
    • Aunts and uncles
    • Cousins
    • Nieces and nephews

    Next to each name, record the information you’d like to feature on the family tree, such as dates of birth and death if applicable, medical histories, height and weight and anything else you think would be relevant.

    Create a Symbol Key

    First, choose the symbols to use to represent each type of family member and relationship. Traditionally, rectangles stand for males and circles for females. Vertical lines connect parents to children, and horizontal lines connect spouses and siblings. However, feel free to make your own symbol key with different shapes or dotted lines, if you’d like.

    Draw Your Tree

    Now, take pen to paper. Start with yourself, either at the bottom or center of the page, since most often older generations will go above you. (But again, it’s your tree, so you can design it to branch out in any direction you choose.) Place your brothers and sisters next to yourself, with older siblings on the left and younger on the right. Draw vertical lines coming up from each sibling, connected at the top by a horizontal line.

    Draw your parents above yourself and a horizontal line connecting them. Put a vertical line between their spousal connection and your sibling connection. Your immediate family is complete now, so it’s time to add in those extended family members.

    Draw your parents’ siblings – your aunts and uncles – next to your parents on the tree, connecting them with that horizontal sibling line. Do your best to keep them in order from youngest to oldest, but you might not be able to, depending on how many kids each has and the design of your tree. Next, include your siblings, connecting them directly to their parents or their parents’ spousal relationship line.

    Continue filling out your tree using the same patterns until it includes all the family members on your original list.

    Yesterday I watched a YouTube video by Larry Jones of DNA Family Trees called “How to Cluster Your DNA Matches With Ancestry’s New DNA Matches Beta.” It reminded me of my failed attempt to do the Leeds Method on using Blaine Bettinger’s Chrome extension. The main issue, though, was that we could only use one colored dot per person. Ancestry has recently solved that issue by offering us the capability of adding up to 24 colored dots per person!

    So, I’ve been working with’s “colored dots” today using basically the same steps as the Leeds Method. If you are new to the method, it uses basically your 2nd & 3rd cousins (or those between 90 cM and 400 cM) to create groups of DNA who are likely related to you and to each other through a common ancestral line. The hope is that you’ll get 4 different color groups representing your four grandparent lines. You can read more about the Leeds Method by clicking here.

    Although the steps Larry laid out were very similar to the Leeds method, there were a few differences. Here are the steps I’m using to do the Leeds Method with colored dots directly with Ancestry:

    How to add siblings on ancestry

    You can see the colored dots in the last column, though you cannot see the names of the groups in this view.


      1. Find the first person who shares less than 400 cM with you.
      2. Click on the person’s name then on “Shared Matches.”
      3. Click on “Add a Group” then “Create Custom Group” for that person. (You can use the default color or choose your own.)
      4. Name the group “Group #1” for now. (We will change the group names after we identify them later.)
      5. Scroll down to the end of the 3rd Cousin group (which should be about 90 cM) and add that person to the group by selecting “Add to Group” and then clicking “Group #1.”
      6. Add everyone above this 3rd cousin to Group #1 in the same way. (By the way, this great tip is from Larry Jones in the video. It’s easiest to start from the bottom of the list or the pop-up box gets in your way!)
      7. Click the “back” arrow to go back to your match list and find the first person – UNDER 400 cM – who is not already in a color group.
      8. Go to STEP 2 of this list and continue until all of your 3rd cousins and higher (in other words, everyone above 90 cM) are assigned to at least one color group.


        1. Find the first person on your list who belongs in only one color group.
        2. Can you identify how that person fits in your tree? If so, label that person based on your 4 grandparents (or 8 great grandparent couples – your choice!)
        3. Check and make sure the label makes sense by looking at other DNA matches with that color.
        4. Find another person with only one color and repeat these steps.
        5. Continue labeling these color groups. Hopefully, by the time you get to the end of your 3rd cousin list, you’ll have all of your color groups identified!

        In this view, you can see the names of the custom groups. I used my four great grandparent couples to name my group. Also, I went WAY lower than the original sort which used 90 cM as the low end of the matches. In doing so, I ended up with an “unknown dad’s side” group that needs solved.