Help Page for Robin's Family Tree Reports

I'm definitely not a "real" genealogist, and I've just never gotten used to the standard reports available in commercial genealogy software. I developed my own software way back in the early 1980's, before commercial genealogy packages were available. I have converted to and's Family Tree Maker™ software for data entry, but I still prefer my style of reports, and I do my reporting from a database that I load with data extracted from Family Tree Maker.


  1. Though I think that my family tree reports will appeal to genealogy novices, they are, admittedly, unfamiliar to novices and experienced genealogists alike.
  2. I much prefer seeing "the big picture" rather than putting the big picture together from a lot of detail, and my web pages and printouts reflect that bias.
  3. Printing of formatted data in web pages is not nearly as flexible as I wish it were. (For example, if something is wider than the printed page, it gets cut off, and that's that.)

I produce four kinds of family trees pages for the Web, all of which are represented on this Web site. They are all truly Web pages, in that many, though not all, of the people on a page are represented by hyperlinks that go to other reports focusing on that person. Each of these formats are described in a little more detail below.

  1. Descendant Trees
    Descendency Charts are a "standard" form of genealogical report, though their format varies from program to program. My Descendant Trees are essentially just an continuous outline (with lines drawn to emphasize the outline indendation). I believe that my Descendant Trees come pretty close to the norm, BUT, for large trees, I much prefer a format I developed several years ago, which I call...
  2. Horizontal Family Trees (see more detailed explanation)
    My horizontal family tree format makes it much easier to recognize relationships than the typical descendency charts printed by genealogy programs. However, this format isn't really well suited for HTML because it requires more width than Web browsers can print. These reports work best when printed in landscape format - preferably with 14-inch (or wider) paper.
  3. Family Group Trees (see more detailed explanation)
    My Family Group Trees are my substitute for standard Family Group Sheets. They are just Descendancy Charts representing 2, 3, or 4 (sometimes more) generations. Generally, the number of generations is chosen so that the report prints on one page.
  4. Ancestor Trees (see more detailed explanation)
    I don't use standard "Pedigree Charts", but have my own format that includes all of my ancestors in a single report, whereas Pedigree Charts break up the family into 5-generation chunks. I can also include aunts & uncles in my Ancestor Trees. report.

I've tried to implement a scheme that lets you take advantage of both the hard-to-print and the readily-printable formats:

A note for advanced Web surfers: If you browse around among the family group sheets and then follow a hyperlink back to a family tree, you'll find yourself at the top of the tree. If you want to keep your place in the family tree, you might want to use two browser windows.

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Robin's Ancestor Trees

The great thing about my ancestor chart is that I can include all of my ancestors on one chart. (Most ancestor reports consist of multiple "Pedigree Charts", each of which includes only 32 people, or 5 generations.) I even go one step further and include the siblings of my ancestors. The downsides of this report format are (a) that it is non-standard and can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to it, and (b)it makes a lot more sense on paper, when you can spread it out and see the whole thing, than it does on the screen.

And, I can't promise that this HTML report will print reasonably on your printer. One of the terrible things HTML is that no Web browser I know of can print wide Web pages. Your browser has a font size and a page layout (landscape or portrait), and that's all you get. Yes, there are ways to use your browser to download more flexible programs and files (e.g. Adobe Acrobat and PDF files), but I'm not there yet.

So my recommendations are that you

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Robin's Horizontal Family Tree Format

I really like the format of my family trees, but they are hard to reproduce. To me, they only make sense when they are printed on 14 inch-wide continuous forms paper that you can spread out to see the whole family at once. Separate 8.5x11 sheets of paper chop up the trees pretty badly, and, besides, my programs are so old that I can't use Windows programs and laster printers effectively.

I have reproduced them for the Web, but you may find that you want to fiddle with your browser font sizes so that you can see more of the chart at once. I've tried to make them as narrow as I can, given the limitations of the format, but some of them are too wide even for legal-size landscape format. I occasionally get by with using 11x17 paper on printers at work.

If you want some of these print-outs and can't get them to print, feel free to email me and I'll send you a printout, or a file you can print.

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Robin's "Family Group Trees"

Instead of standard "Family Group Sheets", I produce a related report I call a "Family Group Tree". They are different from Family Group Sheets, but reasonably similar. I try pretty hard to keep them to one page, but I'll add grandchildren and great-grandchildren if I think there's room. I also use connecting lines to show the parent-child relationships rather than boxes and numbers like the Family Group Sheet forms I've seen.

Unlike my ancestor trees and horizontal family trees, my Family Group Trees are readily printable through a Web browser. Most fit on one page, depending on your browser's font size settings.

All in all, they are the easiest of the family reports to work with; they just can't give you the big picture. If, for instance, you are looking at a Family Group Tree and want to figure out how a person is related to you, or how to navigate back to your own Family Group Tree, the Family Group Trees don't give you much help. You'll need the larger ancestor trees and horizontal family trees for that.

Since there are so many people in a family tree, and so many potential Family Group Trees, I haven't actually produced Family Group Trees for each and every nuclear family. For instance, I don't have children, so a family group sheet for me would be pretty pointless. And even my sisters, who have three kids each, don't get their own Family Group Tree, because it turns out that my parents' Family Group Tree can accommodate their children and grandchildren nicely in one page. So I tried to keep the total number of Family Group Trees to a minimum, while making sure that each person in the family tree shows up in at least one Family Group Tree, and that there are no major gaps that make navigation via hyperlinks difficult.

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Printing Family Trees

My Family Trees and Ancestor Charts are formatted for paper wider than most browsers can handle. To print the family trees, try the following:
  1. Fiddle with your browser font sizes so that you can see more of the tree at once.
  2. Change your print settings to landscape paper, and print on legal size paper if you can.
  3. (I've used 1 and 2 along with 11x17 paper to get good printouts, but I realize that most printers can't handle 11x17 paper)
  4. Print Family Group Trees rather than Horizontal Family Trees. Most of the Family Group Trees print just great on 8 1/2 x 11 paper (though a few benefit from reducing the font a bit)
Or, e-mail me, call me, or mail me a letter, and I'll send you a printout!

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Changing Font Sizes in Web Browsers

I admit that a good Web application would let you click on a button and change the page without changing your browser settings, but I'm just producing static Web pages, not a true interactive Web application. So if you're going to make sense of my large Web-based family trees, you may find it expedient to change your font sizes to zoom in on a person or pan out to see more of the family.

Fortunately, the web browsers have handy controls that let you switch font sizes easily. To zoom in or out on a page, use control-plus and control-minus, or the View pull-down menu (if your browser has one).

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July 15, 2013
Robin Richmond
11644 Harborview Dr
Cleveland, OH 44102