AncestryDNA recently added color tags to their New and Improved DNA Matches beta feature (available here if you don’t already have it). Not only can you color-code your DNA matches for a quick visual overview, you can filter using those tags.
There are 24 colors to choose from.
But which colors to assign to whom? That’s entirely up to you, of course! This post shares a system that’s worked for me.
The color codes apply to your DNA matches, but in theory they are reflecting relationships in your tree. To keep my own coding system straight in my head, I created a dummy Ancestry.com tree and uploaded the dots as profile pictures as a visual reminder. It looks like this:
My first sort for someone’s DNA match list is into the maternal (pink) and paternal (blue) sides. Then, I can filter to show only the maternal matches, for example, and in a second cut assign the matches to the her father’s side (fuchsia) and her mother’s side (burnt orange … Hook ‘Em! ). When I can, I carry on by assigning more precise branches to matches.
Using cool colors—blues, greens, violet—for the paternal side and warm colors—reds, yellows, orange—for the maternal allows you to quickly scan through your match list to see who’s who. The deeper the color, the more refined the sort; that is, a single light blue dot beside a match means you’ve determined only that it’s on your father’s side, while match with forest green has been localized the match to your patrilineal great grandfather’s side.
An individual match can have multiple color dots assigned. This one has light blue for father’s side, teal for father’s father’s side, and forest green for father’s fathers’ father’s side:
This tree coding system uses 14 of the 24 colors for DNA matches. You can use the others to code your DNA matches any way you like, such as a research status or geographic region.
If you’d like to add these icons to your tree, as in the screenshot above, you can find them in the public tree here: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/82989698/family. Each ancestor position has an icon as the profile picture, and all 24 color icons are in the picture gallery for the home person in the tree.
Please share how you’re organizing your matches with the color-tags in the comments.
Updates to this post
21 March 2019—updated to clarify that Ancestry provides the color codes for our DNA matches and that I manually applied them to a tree