Taking it to the Next Level – DNA Spreadsheets

Perhaps this post needs the subtitle , “My Perfect Cousin Goes to GEDmatch.”

Most of us can keep track of information in spreadsheets. So how to do that with DNA? Well, the idea is to keep a list of matching DNA segments so that a new match can be compared to your known family members. That way you may be able to see where they fit in.

If you have tested at 23andme or Family Tree DNA, you can download your list of matches with their matching DNA segments either directly from your testing company or by using the tools at DNAgedcom. However AncestryDNA does not provide a list of matching segments.

Extract from my Dad's MasterSpreadsheet

Extract from my Dad’s Master DNA Segment Spreadsheet (click for a larger version)

Why would you want those? The short answer is to figure out which line a new DNA cousin belongs to. For the long answer, read on. For more posts about DNA spreadsheets click here or in the tag cloud, lower right hand column.

tier1smll AncestryDNA testers can make a DNA segment spreadsheet by using any of a number of utilities at the GEDmatch web site. Start by uploading your raw DNA data (click here for that “how to” post). Your results will usually be ready for full comparisons the next day. Then buy the tier 1 utilities for at least one month ($10).

My preference for making a first spreadsheet is to use the GEDmatch Matching Segment Search. Then I go through the top matches from the ‘One-to-many’ matches report with that spreadsheet as a reference. I add notes on what I discover to my new spreadsheet.

Here is the step by step of what I did for my perfect cousin J.M. whose AncestryDNA results I blogged about in my previous post.

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My Perfect Cousin

This is the first time I have had a cousin’s DNA test come out showing an ancestry composition that was 100% a single ethnicity. My cousin J.M. was not in the least bit surprised as she expected to be all Scandinavian. Five of her eight great-grandparents were born in Norway and the other three were born in the U.S.A. to Norwegian immigrants. But I was quite surprised because there is usually at least a trace of something else.

jmethnicitysmllShe shares my Norwegian born Munson (Monsen) great-grandparents as her great-great-grandparents making us 2nd cousins once removed. She tested at AncestryDNA to help me figure out where a related adoptee might fit in (no luck on that). The fact that she has a genetic genealogist for a cousin who would tell her what it all meant helped convince her as well.

I usually send cousins to my page comparing all the autosomal tests and let them choose. However I prefer Ancestry.com DNA testing for the interested, but non-genealogically serious, relatives who are online because it is so easy to see the relationships and use the green leaf hinting system. Also I was tired of having only one circle and her test would give me a second one. Those with colonial ancestry have plenty of circles and NADs (New Ancestor Discoveries) but we recent immigrants (1870s and 1880s) are lucky to have any. Last but not least, it was the cheapest test at the time she ordered it.

Now why is she perfect? It is not just the 100% Scandinavian but amazingly her top four matches are all second cousins from different pairs of great-grandparents! I have never seen that before either. Of course most of my tested relatives being from relatively recent immigrants, have no second cousins and almost no thirds showing at Ancestry .

Here are J.M.’s matches:

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Thank You from Rockstar number 7

Thank you all for voting me into the top ten again this year. Special thanks to John D Reid for doing these yearly top ten lists in various genealogy categories. It means a lot to me to have this kind of recognition for all the work I put into helping others with this wonderful hobby.


This year’s genetic genealogy top ten really does include folk who are primarily DNA oriented as opposed to previous years where a number of well known genealogists who are not known for DNA were on the list. Click here for what I wrote last year.

DNA has fascinated me since high school biology when I learned about Mendel and dominant versus recessive genes.
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MyHeritage DNA matching is here!

The first release of a new feature, is always exciting but just as often it is also disappointing because it is missing functionality that you expected. I am told that the things I missed the most – search by surname, sorting options – will be implemented, but I did not get a commitment on getting a place to put notes.

MyHdropDownIf you previously uploaded your DNA kit, you can now see your DNA matches at myHeritage by clicking on the tab Discoveries and then on DNA Matches in the drop down (the red arrow in the image is mine as usual). When you have more than one kit there is a drop down to select which kit’s matches to view (a tiny down arrow to the right of your name after the words DNA matches for).

Your matches appear in an attractive list, each in its own box with some information. My known second cousin John is shown below. Scrolling to the bottom gets more matches. There is no paging yet.

If you have not yet uploaded your DNA then go to your tree and find the person whose DNA test you wish to upload. Click on the words Upload DNA data and then follow the instructions.

MyHeritage announced the release of this DNA matching feature in today’s blog post at
where they explain that they are using imputation (DNA.land uses a similar technique) to match people from all different companies and chip versions and that they are confident in their accuracy.


So how do these matches look? My close family looks fine. Dad, myself, my brother, and a second cousin who uploaded his data. Cousin John is listed as a second cousin to my brother and myself but he shares 294.9 cM with a largest segment of 81.5 over at GEDmatch. Somewhat different from the image above where his largest segment is close enough at 81.1 but the total is lower at 211. Perhaps that is because I used my brother’s ancestry kit. Checking my own match with him, there is also less shared DNA at MyHeritage (188cM) than at 23andme (283 cM). Even if we remove the 14.4 cM on the X from that total.

But the less close matches are not looking quite so good.

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A Few Reminders and Please Vote

This is the last call for you to contribute your X chromosome statistics to my survey. Click here for my post explaining the project.

CaptureThis is the fifth year of the survey of best genealogists in a number of categories conducted by Canadian genealogist John D Reid at his blog Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections. Please vote for your favorites.

This is the second DNA only conference by I4GG.org so don’t miss it. It will be in my hometown, San Diego, the weekend of October 22-23. The weather will be lovely, as always, and I will be doing a session on the tools at GEDmatch.

And my final reminder, please contribute your DNA statistics to my study on the differences between half siblings matches versus aunt/uncle/niece/nephew matches versus grandparent /grandchild matches. This is particularly important for helping adoptees. The hope is that when they get one of these matches, maybe it would be possible to tell which relationship it is without testing more family members. Click here for my post on that.