A genogram is a type of family tree diagram that uses symbols to convey much more information than just the traditional records of marriages, births and deaths. On it, you'll see symbols for psychological and physical disorders; relationships between family members; and even for education, occupations and hobbies. Some genograms are used to determine the probability of inheriting a disease or trait. Use one of three basic ways to create your own genogram to print and share with others.
Do the Research
Research your family’s background. Talk to as many relatives as possible to get various perspectives. For your first genogram, limit the number of generations and the number of characteristics until you master the art of making one.
Learn the system of symbols or keep a chart handy. You may also make up your own symbols for certain characteristics or occupations that occur frequently.
Make a rough sketch of your genogram. Be sure you have included all of the necessary information.
Draw your own genogram on paper. Use different markers and a ruler to make a clean version of your rough sketch. Make photocopies or scan it into your computer, saving it as a word-processing or pdf file.
Use a computer program to draw it. Word-processing programs, such as MS Word, have a "Draw" function. If you are familiar with other, more elaborate programs such as InDesign, draw the genogram and then save the file in that format to be printed out or shared.
Create it with a genogram-producing program, available online, such as SmartDraw or GenoPro. These programs may have a fee, but they are the easiest and most efficient; when using it, you just point, click and fill in the blanks. They are designed to be converted to a document- or image-sharing file, such as a pdf, which can be easily printed.
- Do not offer to share the genogram with family members who may be embarrassed or offended by the information in it.
Nate Lee was senior editor of Chicago's "NewCity" newspaper and creative director in a global advertising agency. A playwright and published poet, Lee writes about the arts, culture and business innovation. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Tulane University.