After you test

Receiving your DNA results isn't the end of your genealogical journey.  It's only the beginning!  If you're wondering what to do next, here are some ideas that might interest you.

  1. Maximize your DNA matches by uploading your raw data file to another database. Depending on which testing company you chose, you may be able to take advantage of a different company's user database without paying for another test.  This article by The DNA Geek lists transfer capabilities and database sizes.
  2. Paint your chromosomes with DNA Painter. This user-friendly application lets you color-code your DNA segments by ancestor.  This is particularly useful for breaking down brick walls.  You don't have to upload a raw data file.  Instead, you can cut and paste segment matches from Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, or GEDmatch.  (If you tested with AncestryDNA, you will need to upload your raw data file to one of those databases first.)
  3. Sort your DNA matches with a Leeds Diagram. This allows you to categorize your DNA matches by grandparent, so you can focus your research on one ancestral line at a time.
  4. Evaluate your DNA matches with the Shared cM Project 3.0 tool v4. The name is complicated, but the application is easy as pie.  Just type in the number of shared centimorgans (cM), and the application will show you the genealogical probabilities.
  5. Contact your matches. Some people never check their email, but others will be excited to hear from you.  Be advised that matches under 100cM may be somewhat distant (3rd cousins or more), and matches under 10cM may not be genealogical matches at all; small quantities of DNA can be shared by coincidence or by similar populations.
  6. If all of this sounds like too much work, consider assigning your DNA results to the genealogist in your family. Your contribution to their research will be much appreciated.
  7. If even that sounds like a bother, please consider doing just one thing: attach a family tree to your DNA account that includes your great-grandparents or your grandparents, if they're deceased; living relatives are usually obscured for privacy.  Your cousins will be using your DNA results like a navigational aid to find their own unknown relatives.  It's heartbreaking when your only DNA match on a particular line doesn't have any identifying information.
  8. Finally, if you want the results without the work, contact us. We live for this stuff!