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How to Make a Free Genogram

by Gertrude Cryan

Just as genealogists use family trees to visually document legal relationships, doctors, therapists and many other professionals use a similar method to diagram relationship structures. The genogram resembles a family tree, but uses a standard set of symbols and line types to denote various relationships, depending on the genogram's purpose. For instance, a physician may use a genogram to visually map genetic disorders among one family, while a therapist is interested in emotional relationships between family members and other significant people. Generally, a genogram shows three generations. You can draw your own genogram, use a free online tool or download free genogram software.

Draw Your Own

Print a diagram sheet of the standard genogram symbology (see Resources).

Write the name of your index person (yourself or another person of interest) and draw a circle around a female name or a square around a male name.

Draw a square and a circle in a row above the index person. Write the father's name in the square and the mother's name in the circle.

Draw a line connecting the parents. Decide which line type describes the relationship between the parents. For instance, a solid straight line joining the two denotes a normal relationship. A line with two hatch marks denotes a divorce. Consult your symbol guide sheet for the various line types.

Draw a line connecting the index person and each parent. Choose line types that denote each emotional relationship.

Continue adding grandparents, great-grandparents, spouses, siblings or children, depending on the relevancy of the individuals for your purpose.

Use a Free Online Pedigree Tool by Progeny

Visit the Progeny website and click on the "Free Online Pedigree Tool."

Read the "Software License Agreement," then click "I Accept - Begin Pedigree."

Click "Run" in the pop-up window to start the program.

Right-click on the lower square (index person) and choose "Add Subtext," then write a name and click the "x" button. Right-click on the same square and set the gender.

Right-click on the square above the index person. Choose "Add Subtext" and type the father's name.

Right-click on the circle above the index person, choose "Add Subtext" and type the mother's name.

Click on the line connecting the parents to select it, then right-click on that line and choose "Properties" in the menu list. Click on the "Relationships" tab and choose the type of relationship from the list.

Continue adding relationships to each individual. Simply right-click and choose the appropriate menu options.

Print the completed genogram.

Free Genogram Software from WinGeno

Download and install the free WinGeno software from the organization's website (see Resources), then launch the program.

Click on either the male or female icon, depending on the index person, then place the cursor at the lower middle of the grid area. Press the left mouse button and hold it while dragging the cursor diagonally. Release the mouse button at the desired size.

Click on the circle or square to select it, then choose "Yes" in the "Attributes" section on the right panel. Type the name and age of the index person under the "Details" section on the panel.

Click the icon with two people shown (parents) while the index person is highlighted. The parent symbols will be added.

Click on the added square and type the name and age of the father under the "Details" section.

Click on the added circle and type the name and age of the mother under the "Details" section.

Click on the line connecting the parents to select. Choose the appropriate relationship status in the right panel.

Continue adding individuals to the genogram in the same manner, adding line and symbol information in the right panel for each person.

Save or print your genogram.

Tip

  • The WinGeno program does not have social and emotional line types. You could print the genogram and draw the appropriate lines manually, refering to the genogram symbols guide.

Warning

  • Progeny's online tool does not save your work, but allows printing.

About the Author

Since 2008, Gertrude Cryan has been a student of research and freelance writing. Her articles have appeared on various online publications including genealogical research websites. Cryan covers a variety of topics including genealogy, software, computer hardware, mental health and volunteerism. She attended Indiana University.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images