Genogram Templates

Genogram disease template
Genogram for tracking diseases

Although pedigree charts tell you how you are related to someone, genograms are a great way to capture the personality of your family tree because it tells you the types of relationships, both good and bad, that exist within your family tree. Creating your first genogram can be a bit daunting; however, these two templates can get you started. Note that you need Adobe to see and print the templates.

Tracking Disease

Every family is at risk for certain diseases that follow a genetic line. This template tracks heart disease -- or other common diseases in your family tree. Once you have downloaded the chart, fill it out by:

  1. Finding the box in the center of the template labeled You. Pencil in the border of the box to signify it is the index for the chart.
  2. Place a check mark in either the male or female symbol.
  3. Either color in or place a check mark in the heart symbol if you have any type of heart disease (including high blood pressure). If you want, you can write the disease to the right of the heart.
  4. Either color in or place a check mark in the triangle to record any other disease you wish to track. Write the name of the disease to the right of the triangle.
  5. Using the legend as your guide, draw the appropriate relationship line between each family member.
  6. Record the dates of marriage or separation on the appropriate relationship lines.
  7. Record dates of death or birth inside each box.
  8. If you are including names of family members either write them vertically to the left of each box or under the box.

You can further adjust the other disease category by color-coding what you are tracking. For example, you could color the triangle green for cancer, blue for poor vision or orange for Alzheimer's disease. Color-coding the diseases makes it easy to visualize family patterns.

Recording Relationships

This chart can become somewhat cluttered looking depending on the number of relationships you want to include, but it can be a fun way to explain family relationships or the lack of relationships between family members. The beginning steps are the same as the one above.

  1. Find the box in the center of the template labeled You. Pencil in the border to signify it is the chart's index.
  2. Place a check mark in either the male or female symbol.
  3. Using the legend as your guide, draw the appropriate biological- or family-relationship line between each member.
  4. Record the dates of marriage and/or separation on the appropriate relationship lines.
  5. Record dates of death or birth inside box.
  6. If you are including names of family members write them vertically to the left of each box or under the box.

Part Two: Connections

  1. Using the legend as your guide, connect family members who have a hostile relationship. To accomplish this, you will need to draw outside the lines to avoid confusion with biological/family lines.
  2. If you have a family member that is focused on another family member -- connect them using an arrow. Sometimes, this line simply replaces the family/biological line.

You can include additional relationship types as well. Included in the list of templates below are relationship symbols for various types of abuse, couples who live together but are not married, same-sex marriages, or relationships that were initially bad, but have been restored.

Templates and Software to Try

To appreciate fully what you can accomplish with a genogram explore some of the other templates, handouts and programs which are designed to accommodate the wide range of family types that exist today.

  • GenoPro: You can download a free, bare bones template -- or you can download their software and create templates. One advantage of using software to create a genogram is it is easier to share your work electronically with other family members.
  • SmartDraw: This software comes with pre-installed symbols and a rudimentary template to get you started -- or you can create a template from scratch using their genogram symbols. You can download a 7-day trial to test the software before purchasing it.
  • Multifamily Cultural: This template is more of cheat sheet for the common genograms symbols, but it offers ideas for dealing with annual salaries and includes symbols for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals.
  • National Human Genome Research Institute: Besides including a template, this handout offers variations on commonly used symbols and offers tips and advice on how to create a viable, interesting genogram of you and your family.
  • Modesto Junior College: Although more of a step-by-step guide than a template, this download provides symbols for common family issues like multiple marriages and abusive situations.

Plan Ahead

One of the fundamental challenges to a quality genogram is the amount of information you want to track. You will save yourself a lot of extra work, and create more useful genograms, if you track down all the information you are interested in before starting the chart. By knowing exactly what you want to display, and having the information in hand, the process will go much more smoothly.

Genogram Templates