To get the most out of your AncestryDNA results, you’ll want to link your test results to a family tree. That’s how you combine the power of DNA science with more than 40 million trees on Ancestry.com. Here are a few tips—and one new feature—on linking your results to trees.
Link Your DNA Results to a Shared Tree—New Feature
You can link your AncestryDNA test results to only one tree, but it can be any tree that you are an editor on. If you would like to link your DNA results to a tree that someone has shared with you, you will need to be an editor on this tree. Ask the individual who shared the tree with you to change your role to editor. They can change your role by clicking on the tree and then clicking Tree pages > Tree Settings > Sharing:
You can make sure you have your DNA results linked to the right individual by going to your DNA page, then looking right under the test subject’s name to see who the test is linked to:
Do you see where I’ve put a red box around “Linked to Betty Lousie Heuck”? If Betty H.’s test wasn’t linked to a tree it would say “Link to tree” here. You want to make sure you link the right DNA results to the right person. This will help AncestryDNA help you find the right common ancestor. If you need more help linking your DNA results to a tree, click here.
All of your DNA matches are generated based on how much DNA you share with the match. Linking your DNA to your tree lets Ancestry go behind the scenes and try to identify who the ancestor is that you and your match share. Ancestry will also search your match’s tree for surnames and locations that you have in common and display them for you.
Link Your DNA Results to a Tree That Gives You Maximum Return
To find a common ancestor you share with a DNA match, you need both an AncestryDNA test and an online tree. But what if you have more than one tree? Which tree should you attach your results to?
The obvious answer is the tree that includes the most ancestors for the person who took the test. For example, if you have your mother tested, you probably want to link that test to a tree that starts with your mother. Or, say you have four different trees, one for each grandparent, and you take the DNA test yourself. Which tree do you link to? In this case, I’d suggest making a new tree that starts with you and includes all four grandparents. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on making connections on the three grandparent’s trees you don’t connect to.
The DNA we are testing has been inherited from your 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 2nd great-grandparents, 32 3rd great-grandparents and so on. If you link results to the wrong tree, link them to only one side of your tree, or don’t link them to a tree at all, you aren’t maximizing your DNA results.
Why Can You Link DNA Test Results to Only One Tree?
There are limitations and the system isn’t set up to make those massive calculations if you can link multiple trees to one test because of the inherited patterns of this DNA. The easiest way to get around this is to link to a tree that starts with you. And remember: even though you can link test results to only one tree, you can link as many test results to one tree as you want. For example, I have a tree that starts with me and goes back several generations. It includes my siblings, my parents, and an aunt I have had tested, and I have linked all their test results to this tree so we can take advantage of all our matches. If you would like to merge a couple of trees, click here.
Tips for Success
- Link your DNA results to a family tree
- Link the DNA results to the right person in the tree
- Make your tree public to share with others the possible connection with you
- Have multiple family members tested
Now it’s your turn. Link your test to your tree if you haven’t already and double check that your results are linked to the right person. We wish you the best!
About Anna Swayne
Anna Swayne has 9 years of experience in the DNA genealogy world. At Ancestry, she leads efforts in developing education to help our community maximize their experience with AncestryDNA. She believes there is real power behind DNA and the story it can unlock for each of us. When she is not talking DNA you can find her hiking or cycling in the mountains or cooking at home.