I have jumped into the DNA pool with both feet. To say that it has become an obsession would not be an overstatement. And as I learn more about it and begin to interact more with DNA cousins, I have had to develop a system for keeping track of information. If you have Russell County connections and you are on GEDmatch, I would love to have your number to compare with my kits! I will add my kit numbers to the About Me tab.
I love the format that Ancestry uses for showing you how another user is connected to you based on their DNA plus Tree. If a person has a DNA match to you AND they have a tree with a common ancestor in it, they show that person’s path to the ancestor right next to yours. And if you are related through more than one person, they will show you that as well.
I want to be able to keep track of these connections as well as be able to track when a person’s DNA results are also on another cite – especially GEDmatch.
I have created several different sheets, but I thought I’d share them one at a time. I keep tweaking them as I use them more, but I’m pretty happy with this first sheet. After I post each sheet, I will update the Downloads tab at the top of the page to include every sheet.
My sheets are designed to go into my Genealogy Planner, so there are 2 sheets per page which are made to be cut in half and hole punched to fit in a 5.5 x 8.5 planner. The layout is landscape and the margins are .25 on the top and bottom, .2 on the left and right.
My first page is like a “Contact” page. I have the person’s name, if known. Many times, I won’t know a person’s real name until we connect through the messaging system on Ancestry or through email if I’m using GEDmatch. You don’t want to keep referring to someone as DrummerBoy once you know their real name! I have the Excel sheet set up so that the name that I type in this area also shows up on the side of the sheet so when I am flipping through my pages, I can find the name faster.
On the right corner, I have Paternal/Maternal. I simply delete the text that doesn’t apply. I keep these organized in my Planner based on my Maternal and Paternal Grandparents. Below that line, I have 3 lines for the surnames that we match on.
You can also see that in the middle, I have a column to keep track of which chromosome(s) we have in common. You cannot find this information on Ancestry, but any site that has a chromosome browser will allow you to see this.
In the next section, I keep track of user names for each of the sites that I use. It’s not uncommon for someone to have their results on more than one site, but they don’t always have the same name. So a test might be “B.C.” on Ancestry, “Aunt Barbara” on FTDNA and her full name on MyHeritage. GEDmatch assigns every kit with a number, but the person uploading the information gets to decide if they will use an alias or a real name.
In an area to the right that’s not meant to be printed, I have a chart to help me keep track of how many shared cMs each of my kits has with a cousin’s kit(s). I then use Jing to take a screen clipping of this information and I paste it into the area titled “cM shared”. On the right side, I have not merged the cells so that if I only have information for 1 person who matches 1 of my kits, I can use the lines to add that information instead of a table. So far, I have always ended up merging those cells and using my table, but I wanted to leave the option in there. I also try to always tell where the numbers are coming from because the different sites do not calculate shared cMs the same way.
In the bottom section, I have the Ancestry-like relationship chart and a blank line for me to enter the calculated relationship.
I prefer rounded corners on my boxes, so these borders are created by adding a shape on top of the cell. You must click in the center of the cell or your text will not appear because Excel will think that you are adding to the shape if you click on its border. If you find this frustrating, you can always delete the shapes and add a border around each cell. Text wrapping is turned on, but you can force a line return by typing Alt + Enter if you want to force the female name onto the 2nd line within the cell.
I have a 2nd sheet within the Excel workbook that includes blank lines for notes that can be printed on the back side of the contact sheet. Sometimes, my notes are nothing more than the date that I tried to contact a person, and I do have a short area for notes on the front for that. But sometimes, if a cousin and I are researching together, I also keep notes to help me remember what I’m keeping my eyes out for.
I hope you find these forms as helpful as I have! There will be more DNA sheets to come over the next couple of weeks!
Click here to download the Blank DNA Planner Sheet.