Building a DNA Group Chart in One Step
Frequently Asked Questions

Stephen P. Morse , San Francisco

1. What is a DNA group chart?

DNA testing for genealogy has become very popular lately.  The result of such testing is a list of values at specific markers.  When two or more people have similar values, there is a possibility that they are related within the past few generations.

A group chart allows you to see which people within the group are most-closely related, and to see where different branches split off.  It does so by putting all the values in a common table so that the values can be easily compared.

2. What is the color coding?

Although the table mentioned in question 1 shows all the values, it is not immediately apparent which people have similar values and which do not.  It is also not immediately apparent which people have the closest values.

The color coding hilights the differences so that close matches can be seen graphically.  For each marker, the value that is most prevalent within the group is chosen as the norm.  It is colored white.  Each person having that value will have a white cell for that marker.  If a person's value at a particular marker differs by 1 from the norm, it is given a very light color to signify the difference.  If the difference is 2, the color is a bit darker, and so on.

3. How do I add people to the group chart?

First you need to import each person's values into the charting program.  Then you select which of the imported people are to appear in the chart.

There are three ways of importing values:

If a person was tested by Family Tree DNA, you can import his values directly from the Family Tree DNA website.   To do so, you need to know the person's kit and code number.  Fill those in and press the "Import ftDNA" button.  This will take a while (perhaps up to a minute), so watch the status line at the bottom to know when the imported values are available.

If a person stored his results in ysearch, you can import his values directly from the ysearch website.  To do so, you need to know the person's ysearch ID.  Fill in that value and press the "Import Ysearch" button.

If you already have a spreadsheet with a list of people and their values, you can import that entire spreadsheet.  You do so by clicking the "Import Spreadsheet" button.  The spreadsheet needs to be in a specific format as described in question 4.

The names of the people imported will appear in a drop-down list.  To add a specific person into the group chart, you simply select that person's name in the list.  Or you can add everyone in the list by selecting "All".

4. What format must my imported spread sheet be in?

The first non-blank row of the spreadsheet identifies the markers being tested.  The first column of that row contains a dash (-).  The other columns on that row contain the names of the markers.

Each subsequent row corresponds to a person.  The first column of such rows gives the name of the person, and the subsequent columns are the values of the markers.

See the sample spreadsheet to better understand the format.

5. I imported a person's values by mistake.  How do I remove that person?

That's what the "Delete Imported People" button is for.

6. How can I save the values in my chart so that I can reload them when I return to the program tomorrow?

The values of each person in the chart is already saved in a "cookie" on your machine so that they will be available to the charting program in the future.  However cookies have a way of disappearing, so it is best to save the values in something more permanent.

You can save the entire chart into a spreadsheet.  You do so as follows:

Place the cursor anywhere on the chart
Right click and chose "Select All"
Right click again and chose "Copy"
Go to the spreadsheet, select the first column of the first row, and do a paste
Save the spreadsheet
Mac users will have to modify the above instructions appropriately.

When you return to the charting program in the future, you simply import the spreadsheet you previously saved.  Then you can select "All" in the imported-people list to have all those people appear in the chart.

-- Steve Morse