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DNA matches can be very overwhelming and confusing to sort out. I remember the first time I looked at my DNA match list, it was like a sea of unknown names. I did not even know where to begin in order to make sense of it all. My Aunts were showing up as cousins and nothing made sense. However, with the help of many useful websites and Facebook groups, I began to understand how it all worked. My hope is by the end of this post you will feel much less overwhelmed.
First thing is first and most important, attach a family tree to your DNA results. This helps not only see where people fit within your tree, but also helps others who are trying to work on their own trees. If you need help with this step please send me an email using the contact page and I will gladly help walk you through it.
Let’s start with some DNA Language you should know.
centiMorgan (cM) is a unit of measure for DNA. cM tells you how much DNA you and another person share. The more you share the closer they are related to you.
Finding your matches
Let’s take a look at some testing companies and where you can find the cM for you and your matches and some ideas on how to sort them.
From the main page of ancestry.com click on DNA and then on DNA Matches. This will display a list of all of your matches. Below is a screenshot of my first two matches.
Let’s look at my second match. Ancestry labels my match as a close family-1st cousin. As you can see we share 1,766 cM. Using that number I can look at the shared cM project chart and narrow down my match. According to the chart, this match could be a Grandparent, Aunt/Uncle or first cousin. I know this match is my Grandfather, but if you have a match you are unsure about there is a way to narrow it down using a few steps I will discuss below.
From the main page of MyHeritage click on DNA and then DNA Matches and this will bring you to your list of matches.
MyHeritage is set up a bit differently then ancestry, but all in all, it provides basically the same key information you need. The DNA match example I used above is a much lower cM. This indicates that our common ancestor is going to be quite a few generations back.
After you log into FTDNA click on matches and your list of matches will appear.
One thing I like about FTDNA is that they provide you with the relationship range that is a bit more in depth. The example I used above is my Mother and you can see we share over 3,000 cM, which indicates a very close relationship.
From the home page click on ancestry at the top and then click DNA relatives and this will bring you to your match list.
As you can see 23andMe looks very different in their set up as they do not display their cM’s on the main list. To find your shared cM’s you have to click on the match and it will take you to a comparison page for you and that person.
Steps to figure out your matches
One of the easiest ways to figure out how you connect with a match is to check and see if they have
Let’s take a look at how to find out if your match has a family tree.
Navigate your way back to the list of your DNA Matches. Once you are looking at your list you will see next to each match either, unlinked tree, no tree, a tree with x amount of people or a private tree.
For those that have a tree click on the match and you will see an option to view their tree. Let’s look at someone who has an unlinked tree. Click on your match and then navigate down the page until you see the drop-down menu to select a tree to preview. Once you select a tree a preview of their will load.
Now, let’s delve into those that have no tree or a private tree. For each of
MyHeritage is a bit different. Navigate to your matches, looking at your list you can easily see who has a tree attached and who does not. For those that do not have a family tree, you can follow the same steps as above. First message the match and then second, review your shared matches for someone who has a tree attached to their results.
Bring up your matches list on FamilyTreeDNA. You will see a small tree icon next to each match. The gray trees mean that match does not have a tree attached. If the tree is a blue color then that match has a tree attached to their DNA results.
23andMe is a bit more difficult. They do not have family trees connected to DNA. However, you can either message your match or check each match for a link to a family tree they have on another site.
Please remember if you are still overwhelmed or need any help sorting out your match list, contact me and I will be more then happy to help you.
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn money from advertisements, at no cost to you. The opinions expressed in this article are based on my personal experience and research. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the companies mentioned or advertised.