Posted by Ancestry Team on May 14, 2014 in AncestryDNA

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 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:

link your dna to editor tree

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:

setting tree is linked

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!


  1. Luke Welsh

    My mother’s DNA Results are currently linked to her tree and she has attached notes to many of her DNA Member Matches.

    Her tree is a subset of my much larger tree.

    If we re-link her DNA Results to my tree , will she lose all of her notes?

  2. Glenn Peterson

    I just wanted to echo some frustration I have with members who take the DNA test but choose to keep their trees private. I sympathize and understand privacy concerns, but it just seems that not making a tree public after linking test results is counter productive. Often I’ll check for new activity on cousin matches, and the first dozen or so are private trees. So I’m left with the question of to contact or not contact. Not a huge problem, just needing to vent a bit.

  3. J. Williamson

    How will it look browsing from outside of AncestryDNA webpages? When you look at someone’s family tree, will you be able to see that AncestryDNA results have been posted for that tree or a certain person?

  4. S. Franklin

    I think a chromosome browser and “in common with tool” would be a lot more helpful than this. How many matches will allow someone to be an editor to their tree?

  5. Anna Swayne

    Luke, you will not lose any notes by linking your mother’s DNA to a different tree. Those notes always stay with the match.

  6. Anna Swayne

    J. Williamson, currently that is not a feature we have onsite. You can only see DNA matches and their trees if you or a family member have taken the test.

  7. Anna Swayne

    S. Franklin, you don’t need to be an editor to a tree to see DNA matches. If you would like to link your DNA results to a shared tree, like Luke (who had the first comment in this post) you need to be an editor of that tree to do so.

  8. C. Penn

    I would be willing to make my linked tree visible to DNA matches, but not to all members. Is there a way to do this?

  9. Luke Welsh

    > notes always stay with the match.

    I can confirm that I did not lose any notes when I re-linked her tree. Thanks. I was worried.

  10. Jeannette Saladino

    Some of my time-consuming research was ‘switched’ over to a relative’s tree – and her information was in turn, switched over to my tree. I had extensive information on my parents, grandparents and great grandparents – she had minimal info. with ‘guesses’ and errors. This is the main reason I do not like to make my tree public, even though other DNA matches will benefit from a public tree. I also have DNA ‘hints’, etc. at the top of my matches; they are definitely close cousins; however, they do not have a tree of their own. I kind of resent others who have the test and then sit back and copy all the hard work and research from others’ trees! It should be a two-way street. I have, and do, communicate with cousins and share information, gladly; they also share with me. I have been researching since 2009 (and before, using PAF) when trees were just a number of ‘strings’ going down the page. Very difficult to follow and understand. Ancestry and Family Tree Maker have made it so much more enjoyable and easy to use.

  11. N Coombs

    C Penn ~ No, you CANNOT block certain people from viewing you as a match to their DNA. Unless two of their customer service reps at are wrong. We have to remember, not everyone is doing their DNA to find long lost cousins!!

  12. Roger Buttermore

    I have purchased about 8 kits for near and distant family members. Of those, 3 in addition to my own have been completed, another 3 have been activated (by me) but are still being collected or in the mail, not showing processing. 2 are in limbo, I don’t know if my kin will test or not.

    Anywaym of the first 3 completed:
    1. I am admin for my mother. I activated her kit and administer it from my tree. Check.
    2. I paid for a distant cousin. The kit was sent directly to her, but I was sent the purchase code. She previously had shared her tree with me as “Guest”. She activated the kit but purchase code apparently was not required; interestingly, her DNA results are “shared” with me. That’s nice, but not important.
    3. Conversely, I paid for my daughter. Kit was sent to me, I opened it and activated it. Following the blog, she invited me to her tree as “editor”, so the results could be “owned by her but seen by me. So far, all that’s happened is that I can see her results in her tree, but she can’t. This is important!
    4. Her son, my grandson, I had the kit sent directly to. He also “shared as editor” with me but activated his own. Based on my distant cousin, I expected that I would be able to “see” his kit activated, but so far, nothing. The kit is in the mail. He can see the activation, but not me.

    #5. & 6. in the mail, don’t know what to expect. I activated both, but want the test subjects to “own” their own data with the same arrangement as with my distant cousin.

    Why am I getting such varied outcomes to the same set of procedures?

    Any help most welcome! Thank you.

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