Format for AncestryDNA Notes

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

Here is an example of the format I usually use for AncestryDNA Notes, line by line:

[1] 6C1R: BUTCHER/BUSH > Valentine

[2] Gm 123456 [03F25] 15.1cM

[3] 12.4cM/1Seg

[4] SM: 6 [1 is 4C on BUTCHER]

[5] m5/4/17; mr5/5/17w/Gm#

[6] Added to xls & Notes

[1] is just line number, you don’t need to type that in

6C1R is 6th cousin once removed; 4Cx2 is double 4C

BUTCHER/BUSH is our MRCA surnames > Valentine is the child my Match descends from

Gm is GEDmatch ID

[03F25] is my Triangulated Group ID [Chr 3; F means start in 50-60Mbp range; 25 are first two Ahnentafel numbers of my ancestry to the MRCA – in this case my father and his mother]

15.1cM is cM per GEDmatch

12.4cM is cM per AncestryDNA [almost always smaller]

SM = Shared Matches; then the number of them; then any key info about any of them [in brackets]

M5/4/17 means I posted a message; mr means reply

Added note confirms info was added to my spreadsheet and my Notes on each surname

This info is available by hovering over the little document icon next to each Matches name. It is very useful in its own right to help me keep track of each Match. It is also particularly valuable when reviewing a list of Shared Matches – you can easily see which ones you have notes for and what the notes say. This helps you decide if a group of Shared Matches are grouping around one ancestral line.

I do this pretty religiously for all Matches with Hints; and try to do it for all 4C Matches, too – no time is left for the tens of thousands of other AncestryDNA Matches.

[22I] Segment-ology: Format for AncestryDNA Notes TIDBITS; by Jim Bartlett

26 thoughts on “Format for AncestryDNA Notes

  1. I just started using the Chrome extension MedBetterDNA, which uses hashtags to filter DNA matches. I am using similar information, but:
    First item can be a hashtag for the Most Common Recent Ancestor (MCRA). If there are more than one recent ancestor, I include the other ancestors also. This isn’t actually the MCRA, it is the child right under this, so for first cousins it would be #XM (father’s side) or #XF (mother’s side). I use Ahnentafel atree nomenclature that I find easier to use and can be helpful if you use any automatic auto clustering (usually it shows the Notes and since this is the first info I include, it can help to identify the cluster). Next item would be the same except hashtagged #BUTCHER/#BUSH>Valentine so you can search for surnames.
    Next I have regions from ancestry – #regMidlands or #NortheasternStates so you can filter on regions. If your matches sort out based on ethnicity regions, you could include that information, but that’s not useful for me.
    I don’t currently use GedMatch, but you could use the hashtag #Gm for gedmatch, #FTDNA for familytreeDNA, #myHer for MyHeratige, etc.
    I include the cM/Seg info just in case I need it, but I don’t put a hashtag in front of it. This can be useful if you have access to a distant cousin’s matches and want to know if another match is closer to you or the cousin you are comparing to.
    I include SM information, but I don’t put a hashtag in front of it. Number of matches is useful if you are comparing to a cousin’s DNA matches and want to know if a common match is closer to you or the match you are comparing to. Key info is match with greatest cM that is 2nd cousin or greater. The reason is this can be a cluster name if relationship isn’t known.
    You can put a hashtag in front of the messaged and Added to Excel information, if this is important to you to filter, but Ancestry does have a messaged filter.


    • Files,
      I’ve been doing much of what you list since 2016. Have you been able to execute a hashtag search recently (I thought that was disabled). For the SM’s, I now try to summarize the SMs for each Match – hopefully by now most of my Matches over 20cM are in a Cluster, and this is confirmed (or not) by the SM summary. I have several hundred Ancestry Matches who have uploaded to GEDmatch, so many of the Clusters have a *clue* as to the shared DNA segment.
      It’s good to see someone else using this process too.


      • The MedBetterDNA Chrome extension worked for me today. Who knows if it will work when Ancestry updates. I was trying to see if I could modify the Shared Clustering to change the match names with colors based on the #X tag with warm colors for the maternal side and cool colors for the paternal side.


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  5. You got all the important pieces except the date. Putting the date in my notes keeps me from looking at the same sets of matches I just reviewed two weeks ago or even just last week,


    • Carla, thanks for the positive feedback. Actually I add dates for each message sent and received. Using MEDBetterDNA lets me see all my notes, and I can quickly tell how the conversations are going; or when it’s been a few months and it’s time for a follow up.


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  8. Jim, would you ask the gedmatch guys to post their explanations on Tg utility here so we can see how the 2 methods of notation differ?


  9. Chris – yes, that is my nominal system; but I’m not afraid to adjust from it. In general it’s accurate; but the main purpose is to give each TG a unique ID. I’m not sure what system GEDmatch uses. Although I’ve shared mine with them, I don’t think they use it. It’s really not critical what letter you use, just as long as every shared segment in the TG uses the same one.


    • Thanks Jim, I love designation systems to make things somewhat standard. Its a bit of OCD I think.

      So to recap, each letter equals 10Mbp, and each Chr would have more or fewer letters depending on its overall length. Any segment starting inside that segment of 10 would have the same letter label. Also, each segment is handled individually regardless of being a multi segment match. Is that about right?

      Id like to add that I reread your blogs after this recent post and I think I learned more this time around. Its fascinating stuff and I look forward to more posts.


      • Chris Each letter represents a range where the TG starts. Each TG is usually greater than 10Mbp long. So the first TG on each chromosome will be A; the next one will be B or C depending on the length of the previous one. Again, it’s just a tool for me to assign a unique ID to each TG.

        Sent from my iPhone



      • Each TG is handled individually and independently – regardless of the number of shared segments within the TG. The “grid”, or layout, of TGs varies with each generation. You got 23 large segments from your mother. Each one is a chromosome. Kind of trivial, but it provides a reference point. At the grandparent level your 23 segments (chromosomes), turn into about 47 segments from your two maternal grandparents, because of about 34 recombination crossovers. On each chromosome, the segments will alternate between grandparents. Note: each segment could be represented by a large TG, but at this large size most of these TGs would be further subdivided in generations going back. At the great grandparent level, there are an average of 34 more crossovers, so 34 of 47 grandparent segments are probably “hit”, resulting in 81 segments in total. NB: 13 segments would not be hit, indicating they were passed down intact (“sticky”). A chromosome map can be made for each generation. TGs occur between natural break points (crossovers), and they are not necessarily all from the same generation.

        Sent from my iPhone



  10. On your TG identification, you mention “F” for 50-60Mpb range. Are you just starting with “A” for 00-10, “B” for 10-20, and so on until the end of the Chr? Is that the same grid that GEDmatch is using for the Tier 1 TG tool?


  11. Jim, I will never forget when you replied to me that I really should convert to a spreadsheet. I am so thankful. Though I have not fully mastered their use, it sure beats the notebooks and scraps of paper I had all over the place. I did loose one of my spreadsheets. My son asked me how I could do that on a computer. Long story. Of course I found it easy enough when I realized the .xls would find it. I do blunder around.


    • Barbara, I save my spreadsheet to a new name every few days (and move the old one to a history folder) So my spreadsheet is: jvb atDNA Master 20170507 – tomorrow I’ll “save it as” and change 07 to 09. Also, get in the habit of hitting control-S, every few minutes, and before going on a break.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me too! : Project May 2017.
        I email myself my master so if I have a crash the info is in cyberspace to be retrieved. I started doing that when I had one of the first iMacs that didn’t have back-up drive.


  12. Thank you! I have a line that I can use this on. 6 second cousins (by DNA and traditional genealogy – all known to each other) who triangulate in several spots with fuzzy ends – well 5 because one is my sister. Mind boggling, labour intensive but doable.


  13. Tangent: When and where was your Valentine Butcher born? I am related to a Valentine Butcher and, more distantly, to a Valentine Metzger (German variant of the surname).


    • Cora, We have found our TG on GEDmatch – my [19B25] – with you, your mother and her brother. The GEDmatch segment was 6.3cM, which is fairly small, but AncestryDNA had about the same value, and they use “population phased” data, so I’m not as leery about it now. As it turns out there are two other Matches on AncestryDNA and GEDmatch in this same TG and we all share the same METZGER/BUTCHER Common Ancestors. The other two don’t show up as Shared Matches at Ancestry (because it is a small segment, and Shared Matches must be 4C or closer]; but they are all in my AncestryDNA Notes box now.
      I have 664 Hints at AncestryDNA, and I’m about 80% of the way to completing the NOTES box for each – it’s a lot of work, but very helpful. I’ve been able to “star” 850 Matches so far (CAs and/or GEDmatch in each) – these a very important and helpful clues for me. With over 35,000 Matches at AncestryDNA, I focus on the starred ones.
      Thanks for your posts,


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