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5 steps to research and print your family tree

Want to create a stunning family tree you can hang on your wall, but don't know where to start, or how long it will take? You've come to the right place.

We've broken it down into five steps. Let's walk through them together

Step 1: Talk to your living ancestors

What to do

Make a list of your living ancestors, then go talk with them. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. Write down everything you learn, and make audio recordings if you can.

Questions to ask your ancestors

If you can make the time, just listen to their life story. But don't forget to gather some basic facts, like:

  • What is your full name?
  • What is your date of birth? And where were you born?
  • Tell me about your parents - their names, birth dates, birthplaces, and their life stories.

Step 2: Research the rest of your tree

What to do

Start a free trial with Ancestry and input your known living ancestors. Ancestry will provide "hints" to help you identify additional ancestors. Or if you prefer, try a different service, such as MyHeritage or FindMyPast.

  • Choose a service that supports exporting to GEDCOM (see step 3 below). A notable service that does not support exporting to GEDCOM is FamilySearch.

Click below to see a list of all the most popular ancestry search engines. Try running a search across multiple services to see which ones you find most useful.

See ancestry search engines

How to research

Carefully review a sample of the finished output you can expect from FamilyPDF. This will help you avoid spending too much time researching information that doesn't help you complete your project.

View sample PDF (464 KB)


  • Try to find as many mothers and fathers as possible going back a total of 4-6 generations (that's up to 126 people!).
  • Focus your search on birth, marriage and death records for each person.
  • Make a note of any famous ancestors, and their stories.
  • Find earlier ancestors if you can, sticking to your direct paternal and maternal lineages.


  • Dig deep into the siblings of your direct paternal and maternal lines, or the lineages of these siblings. Your tree will be populated with mothers and fathers only!
  • Stress about verifying specific dates of birth or death - the year is enough.
  • Trawl through other record collections, such as newspapers or immigration records, unless they help you get the facts you need for your project.
  • Spend ages trying to break through a "brick wall" in your research. It's ok to have some gaps in your project; proceed to the next step once your research stops yielding fruit.

Step 3: Import your ancestry into FamilyPDF

What to do

Sign up for FamilyPDF and start a project. Import your ancestry directly from sites like Ancestry as a GEDCOM file (see below). Customize the layout, colors, and add personal stories and images.

Get started for free

How to export your family tree from sites like Ancestry

GEDCOM is a digital file format used to share family trees between different services.

  • You do not need a GEDCOM file to use FamilyPDF. You may enter all or some of your family tree manually ... it's just a lot more typing

Learn how to export a GEDCOM file from the following sites:

Step 4: Print and frame your FamilyPDF project

How to display your family tree

You're in the home stretch - explore where and how you want to display your family tree in your home.

What to do

Here's a final checklist to consider as you decide how to print and frame your project:

  • Use the "Share a preview" feature in FamilyPDF to ask your family to review your project.
  • When you're ready to print, upgrade your project to remove the watermark.
  • Discuss with the printer what paper and printing quality to use.
  • Discuss with the framer how to mount the printed project so that it is secure, does not wrinkle, and fits your home decor.

Step 5: Enjoy your family tree

What to do

Hang your FamilyPDF family tree in your home. Well done! You've done a great thing for yourself, and for your family. Congrats!!!

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Let us know about your experience. Please sign into FamilyPDF and leave us a comment with your feedback and suggestions.

- the FamilyPDF team

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