How to Make a Genogram in Microsoft Word

465435 How to Make a Genogram in Microsoft Word

A genogram is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays the relationships and interactions between family members across multiple generations. Unlike a traditional family tree that just shows lineage, a genogram uses special symbols and annotations to illustrate additional details such as emotional relationships, major life events, occupations, illnesses, and more.

Genograms are commonly used in family therapy and counseling to identify patterns, understand family dynamics, assess medical history risk factors, and aid in treatment planning. They can also be created for personal use to better understand your family history and connections.

While specialized software exists for building genograms, you can easily create one yourself using Microsoft Word. Follow this step-by-step guide to make your own genogram diagram in Word from scratch.

Gather Family Information

Before adding anything to your Word document, you first need to gather some basic family details. Here’s what you should find out:

  • Names of family members
  • Gender
  • Birth and death years
  • Marriages/divorces
  • Sibling order
  • Major family events

Make sure to go back at least 3 generations and include both sides of the family. Having all this information handy will make constructing your genogram much easier.

Add Basic Symbols

To get started, go to the Insert tab and open the Shapes drop-down menu. Select a shape such as a square for a male or circle for a female family member.

Basic genogram symbols:

  • Male – square
  • Female – circle
  • Marriage – horizontal line connecting symbols
  • Divorce/separation – diagonal lines crossing the marriage line
  • Siblings – ordered left to right by birth order

Click and drag to draw the symbols on the document. Use lines and spacing to indicate family connections.

Include Generations

Add generations by placing parents and grandparents above, with children below. Make sure to properly align both sides of the family.

Use tree diagram layouts and hierarchy to show lineage across generations. Place the oldest generation at the top, working your way down by birth order.

Add Details

Enhance your genogram using lines, symbols and text to highlight additional details:

  • Dates of birth/death
  • Cause of death
  • Health issues
  • Family events
  • Emotional relationships
  • Occupations
  • Religious affiliations

This extra information will give more context and insights into your family history.


Take advantage of Word’s formatting options to make your genogram visually appealing:

  • Change colors and line styles – Vary colors/lines for distinction
  • Add photos – Insert family photos next to symbols
  • Adjust size and layout – Use alignment guides and gridlines
  • Add text boxes – Include annotations and details

Playing around with the format and layout can bring your genogram to life.

Save and Export

When your genogram is complete, save it on your computer as a Word document or PDF file. You can then print it out and share it with family members.

If you need to include your genogram in another Office document, you can also copy and paste it or save it as an image file.

Tips for Making a Genogram in Word

Here are some additional pointers to help with creating genograms in Word:

  • Start with a genogram template for quick formatting
  • Group symbols together after arranging to avoid accidental changes
  • Search Word’s shape library for family tree elements
  • Use SmartArt to create a basic lineage framework
  • Add a genogram legend to explain the symbols used
  • Keep iterating as you learn new family details

With a little bit of effort, Microsoft Word has all the tools needed to make a detailed, personalized genogram diagram. Follow this guide and experiment to build your own.

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