How using an ancestry dna test kit, helps with genealogy

Genealogical family tree records have errors for so many reasons.

Ancestors lie, even for little reasons like to make themselves look younger, or seem better than they are.  Stories passed down the generations are often changed for these reasons.

Records were also kept by hand and can have mistakes when they were written or copied.  So much is lost, even just after it was originally made.

It can also be an issue that if a genealogist does a bad job, most people will not be able to tell.

This makes the challenge even more interesting and gives even more scope for DNA to help.  It is leading to new stories and more depth to those existing stories.

Also it is far easier to be matched with an ancestry dna test kit where it can do so, than go through all the records on a family genealogy site.

Using the ancestry dna test kit reviews, to find one that really works, can really help in genealogy.

However they are only part of the story, so we are going to talk about them, as part of the whole process of genealogy.


The best place to start finding out about your family tree and family

Using an ancestry DNA test kit is fun and great for heritage and ethnicity, but if it is your nearer relatives you are looking for, the oldest person in your close family is often the best place to start.  If you are fortunate enough to still have your grand parents or your parents then go to them.

It is good to write the stories down that they say, people always think they will remember but tests show that 30% or more is changed or not remembered by the listener and that is on the same day.

Grandparents know so many stories and so much, they will also have insights that is so hard to get from documents.  Those little pieces of information that fill in the gaps, where there are people with two names and only one can be your relative and other things that just solve questions that will come up later.

The beauty of this is that the stories they tell may well lead you to other relatives that are still alive and know more.  Often these may be direct family, but from being involved in the family they know things.

There is one family who employed a cleaner, that cleaner worked for a number of the family members and friends of the family members.  She knew so much.  The amount she knew was amazing and of course she also knew people that knew things as well.  However her stories were a bit off on some facts because she liked gossip.

You may also find there is a hairdresser and other people who chatted a lot with your family, who also knows more than expected!

Basically you never know where the journey will take you!


Getting organised and not loosing information

You will very quickly get so much information that without a proper way of storing it you will get lost.  At best family tree software can help you with this to work out how each person is related and this makes the stories of the characters fit together.  At worst make sure that you have a way of writing a page on each person, then tying those pages together into different parts of the family.

It is best to get this together before you get lost.

When using family tree website services, you may well find photos and other things that did not come from standard records.  That is because other people have also uploaded photos and they are visible for other people to see when viewing that person.


Where to go next

There is only so much that people remember and to be frank they normally do not know the boring stuff like actual dates.

Things to try and get hold of are

Family possessions, even a doll can tell a story, or a family bible.  They can also jog someone’s memories about something .  A person may think they have told you everything, but normally no one ever has because there are so many other things.  Also things that made an impression on them, may be things that are not important to others and visa versa

Old photos are fantastic, people often have old black and white photos just lost and hidden in drawers.  Going into attics and other places can lead to treasures.  Especially if they are in places full of things that will not make money on Ebay.  There maybe loads of old untouched things as others see them as annoying rubbish to go through, but to you are information and treasure.

A relative may have many things that they see as junk, but to you are clues.


Genetic testing in this context

While these stories, pictures and objects say a lot about a person.  Genetics can show where people got things from.  Where people got certain characteristics from, how a person’s fantastically expressive dark eyes came from, how come a certain amount of men in the family seem to go bald early.

The biological inheritance is a big thing and especially where there is a break in the information chain.  Most common of these is adoption from a young age, children from affairs and so on.

An genetic ancestry dna test kit, can uncover secrets that have been kept and the keepers of them thought they would never get out.

We recommend though learning as much as possible about the different genetic test kits from each company though and what features they come with.  This is to ensure you get the test that does what you need. [link to reviews page].

It is good to know what the different  kinds of  tests are that they do, what they have trouble doing and how to get around these limitations.  All this is in this website.

To find relatives, you need to ensure that the company has matching you to other people in their DNA database as part of their service.

Then from this, 4 things matter

  1. The larger their dna database is from having tested as many people as possible, the more people they can match you with. Each DNA company’s databases are also growing all the time, as word of mouth spreads about them, more people are doing them.


So we recommend looking at how they are growing, as well as how big they already are.  This is because you may not get good results when you first do it, as you are the first person of your relatives to do the test.  However later on, moire family members of yours may do a DNA test with them, so the company they will notify you later on when they come on and  match.


  1. Their dna database is more from the areas where your relatives maybe. For example some companies may have more people in the United States, others more in Europe and other places.
  2. That you can import your test results into other DNA testing services, which can be more economic then having them done by each person. This means you can look for matches in these other dna databases as well.
  3. It may also be an advantage if you can import the DNA matching results into family tree software that some DNA testing services also do.


It tends to be that if the company was traditionally a genealogy service that later on DNA testing services, then they will have family tree software as an add on to their DNA service.  However if they are first a DNA testing service, then they normally do not have a family tree and records side to their business.

DNA analysis is also  massively improving all the time, they are getting better results, tools and possibilities. This makes it even more attractive to people to do and should further increase the number of people that do them even more.

For example, some people do them for the genetic health analysis parts.  So the more reasons there are for people to do a DNA test and the more these other parts of the tests improve.  The more people there are, who will have also done a DNA test.  Most of them have ancestry analysis also as part of the  DNA test kit.


Our page with the best ancestry dna test kit reviews will answer all these questions for you, to help you find the right ancestry, ethnicity and heritage DNA testing kit for you..


Normally you will get far more data from genealogical family tree records than an ancestry dna test kit

DNA testing is important though, as it finds missing, or unknown family members, especially when there are not enough ancestry documents to give all the information.

Then ancestry genealogical records can be used, to see who else they are linked with and how.


So there are two sources of family tree information


1, Genetic data

It matches people up and shows how they are probably related.

Genetic data shows how people inherited dna, it is very good for finding lost or unknown cousins.

It will only match you up to other people that are already in the dna database.  Normally this will just be

  • If you happen to have another family member who is interested in this stuff
  • If someone is adopted or lost to the family and would like to trace their family or be traced by them.

Autosomal DNA is the main one ancestry and genealogical dna testing kits use for matching people up.   Normally once you get to 5 generations back, ancestors start going missing,  until you get to 10 generations where there are hardly any.

This is because once you go back that far, each ancestor has contributed only a small part to your DNA.  As a result they may be on your genealogical famly tree that comes from records, but there is no DNA match.

Each parent contributes half of your DNA and so the amount from each individual person gets weaker with every generation.

So your parents will always match up if they are in the compahy’s DNA database.

Grandparents have each contributed 25%.

Then great grandparents have contributed 12.5%.  This is because there are of course 8 grandparents,

So 100% divided by 8 great grandparents equals 12.5%.

First cousins will always match up genetically.

On average we have found the claimed chances of a match from the DNA testing companies are:

First or second cousin: 99-100%

Third cousin: 90-98%

Fourth cousin: 45-71%

Fifth cousin: 10-32%

Sixth cousin or greater: 2-11%

If a cousin is once removed, which means they are from a different generation.  Then the chances of a match are much less.  This makes a difference when you are fourth cousins, but if you are first cousins once removed then you should still get a match.

The way around this is to test more people of each generation, as they will have received DNA from your ancestors that you have not.  So they will match up to people that you will not match up to.   They may have inherited this person’s red hair, but maybe you did not.

2, Geneological records that come from data such as birth certificates, immigration records, death certificates, records, newspapers and so on.

The stories and their lives is really seen from archives and records such as on the genealogical websites and not dna testing.

Your genealogical records will show everyone on your family tree that is known to be linked to other people through records.  DNA searches will show many people, but not as many.

Online genealogy records on websites can show everyone in your family tree going back a long way.  They will show every child, parent, grand parent, great grandparent and so on.

It does take time to do this work, as for example, if two people have the same names, you may have to work out which record is the one you are related to.

The sites are also effectively crowdsourcing, so the more people that have researched that part of the family, the more data will already be completed for you on those people.  So the site already has this data and answers.

However there is normally just one or two people in a family that has done this work.  In some families more and in others none.  So the amount of pre ready data there will depend on yours.

It can be that there is pre ready data from a certain part of your family, as that work was done by quite a distance cousin.

If no work has been done by others, it just means more time doing record searches and selecting which ones are relevant.

The real challenge with records is before  1700  or 1800, meaning there are gaps and missing information.  This can vary by country and  how much y our ancestors moved country.


Putting genealogical records and DNA testing together

As a result of there being 2 sources that can give different information.  Geneologists create two family trees, one is genetic and the other is genealogical from ancestry records.  Then they put them together to create the final family tree.

The genealogical tree from records normally comes first and the genetic family tree results are a secondary tool done to improve and help the main tree.   The more people that are on dna testing databases though, the more matches can be done.


How exact is it, when an ancestry dna test kit, tells me my exact relationship to a DNA match ?

When your genetic matches come back, the strongest matches are at the top. The matches also say how you are related, for example:

  • Identical twin
  • Parent/child
  • Immediate family
  • Close family
  • 1st cousin, but could be 1st or 2nd cousin
  • 2nd cousin, but could be 1st or 2nd  cousin
  • 2nd cousin, but could be 2nd or 3rd cousin
  • 3rd cousin, but could be 3rd of 4th cousin
  • 4th cousin or further away

There are however degrees of accuracy and each ancestry DNA testing kit claims a different accuracy rate.

Also the way they categorize their relationships are a bit different, although it all leads to the same thing.

Some have a very broad range such as just saying a person  could be your 2nd to 4th cousin, but then give a prediction of what it could actually be

Others will say the person is first or second cousin, but say how much they could be out by.

They all say how likely the match is though, from very likely, to not very likely.   Next to this information they put how much DNA you share with that person.  This will be a percentage and how many segments.

For example:

  • A second to third cousin may have just over 2% of shared DNA and 7 matching segments
  • A 3rd to 6th cousin may have 0.33% DNA shared, with jjust one or two matching DNA segments

Once it is passed 4th cousins they just say it could be 4th cousins or more.  For example, once you get to 7th or 10th cousins, the amounts of DNA shared with their relatives are so small, it is hard to work out which it could be.

As it is based on the amount of shared DNA, there is a limit to how accurate their prediction can be.  For example a first cousin, can have about the same amounts of DNA as a first choisn once removed.

If there are lots of relationships with that person in the family tree, it can get even harder to predict.

For example if a male has a child with a female.  Then the brother of that male also has a child with the sister of that female.  This can make it look like the children from that are half siblings, as in the children had the same father or mother.

An ancestry dna test kit will also provide some other information about the match

They show all the profile information they have for that match.   This is because if the person is on their database, the company will have their name and some other information.

However they will not give you personal contact information, that has to be done by messaging the person through the website.

Some people will have also asked for their name to be anonymous on the site, but you can still contact them through the site if the person has also allowed that

The testing services that also have a family tree records part to their business, also link this information to that part of it.  However using this part of their software in full is normally an extra charge.  We do recommend these services though, they are surprisingly powerful.


Genetic tests do not create a full family tree

People new to genetic testing sometimes expect to get back a full family tree.  They are then disappointed to see an ethnicity estimate and some matches to people they share some DNA with.

The matches of people they share DNA with come in a list, with the closest probabilities of a match at the top.  So they then have to see if they are actually a close match and put this onto their famliyi tree themselves.

Some testing services are part of family tree geneology companies that the genetic data can link to, but the family tree part is a separate services at extra cost.

Some family tree geneology companies allow users to upload genetic data from other services.

Basically some people expect the genetic service to do everything, but there is a  limit to what they can do.

For example, DNA cannot tell you your relatives name, her story, travels and so on

DNA  is a powerful tool for helping create a family tree.  It’s availability has changed and improved things. It has shown parts of people’s families that they never knew existed and created links that it was not possible to do with the records and archives on geneology websites.

Once you find a match, then using family tree software you can see the other relatives that are linked to that person.  This leads to whole new family trees.

For some people who are adopted and want to find their adopted family, the authorities will not give them any information about their real parents.  As a result they have nothing to go on.  Genetic ancestry DNA testing has totally changed this world for people.   Then if they plug this data into a family tree website, they can see the whole of their family.

An adopted person only needs to find one person from either their father or mother’s side and it all goes from there.

DNA is just the biological matching of people.  It can say about their biology and match people up.  Then records are needed to see what they actually did, their names and so on.

Common mistakes people make

1, A common mistake people make when choosing an ancestry dna test kit for genealogy, is selecting one that does not have genealogy or family tree features.

The word ancestry covers a lot of things and may not cover genealogy and family trees

Ethnicity:  This finds out what ethnicity a person has  in their dna.  Such as having 5% Southern European ancestry, 12% from Ireland and so on.  This has nothing to do with relatives.

Some ethnicity tests say if there are other people on their dna database they can match you with, but some do not.

Genealogy and family trees:  All the genealogy and family tree dna test kits say a person’s ethnicity, although some are more accurate than others.

2, The test companies that do also do family trees, normally charge extra for this.  The family tree and genealogy part of their service can be significantly more than even the price of the test kit.  Also these parts of their services are subscriptions.

3, Many of the test kits have other features such as health tests, diet plans and so on.  Sometimes people find that as they are not so specialist in ancestry, the ancestry results are not as good.

Also these features can make them more expensive and you may not want those things.

This is why is even more important to look at our guide to find the best ancestry dna test kit.



There are limits to genetic DNA saying how two people are related, but it still solves lots of family tree mysteries.

Especially when people are lost, there is no documentation, or not known to the family.

Also when there is documentation, but it is not clear if that person is from your family.  Like if it could just be someone who is not related but has the same name.