There are different formats that a Family Tree might take. Depending on the style of the chart that you are using, it might show five, six, seven, or even more generations. Some family tree charts get so full of information that it can be difficult to understand exactly how one ancestor relates to another one, or how either of them relate to you. Instead of using the typical, tree shaped, family tree design, try using an ahnentafel chart instead.
The word “ahnentafel” comes from two German words. The word “ahnen” means “ancestor in English, and the word “tafel” means “table in English. This form of family chronicle is a pedigree chart. This means that you will be the first person listed, but your siblings will not appear on it. Your mother and your father will be on this chart, but not your uncles, aunts, or your cousins. It is a direct matrilineal and patrilineal ancestral line that begins specifically with you.
There is a numbering system that goes with a ahnentafel chart. You will always be number 1, no matter if you are male or female. Your father will be number 2, and your mother will be number 3. The information about each person listed on the ahnentafel chart will appear in a box. Inside the box sits the person's name, his or her birthday, and specific information about exactly where the person was born. Next, there is a spot to put the person's day of death, and where it occurred. Each person will be assigned a number.
Ok, so you are number 1, your dad is number 2, and your mom is number 3. Your paternal grandfather is number 4, and your paternal grandmother is number 5. Your maternal grandfather is number 6, and your maternal grandmother is number 7. Notice a pattern yet? Everyone who is male is represented by an even number, while everyone who is female is represented by an odd number. This number system continues as far back as you go, with every ancestor on the ahnentafel chart. Another pattern to notice is that each line, or generation on the chart, has exactly double the number of people as the previous line, or generation did.
The number system is very handy if you happen to be comparing your work with another genealogist in your family. The ahnentafel chart makes it easy to know, for certain, that you are both talking about the same person.