The Process for Making a Kinship Diagram

Process of Making a Kinship Diagram

Here in this blog, you will learn all about the process of making a kinship diagram and the benefits of using diagram templates. So if you would like to get your hands good at handling kinship diagrams then this site is perfect for you to get started with.

Well to begin with you already know that there are several ways to define ‘Family’ right? The dictionary also offers a few suggestions, which include ‘a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head’ or ‘a group of persons of common ancestry’. We have also heard as well as now that ‘Family is the most important thing in the world’ which means that nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

So now for those users who would like to further explore the dynamics between family members, from individuals and would like to have a better understanding of their heritage to anthropologists who study the norms and values of different societies, you will find a kinship diagram very useful hence you should continue reading to know every detail.

What is a kinship diagram all about?

Do you know that kinship diagrams are also called kinship charts which illustrate relationships? A kinship diagram can be used for visualizing your lineage, which is similar to a family tree chart or a pedigree chart. However, a kinship chat is more commonly used by anthropologists so that they can quickly map relationships as they interview people and also present a culture’s kinship pattern without having to show specific names.

Know the diagrams and symbols used in kinship

Now before you start you should know the language of kinship diagrams. Kinship charts always use the same basic symbols, shown below, they represent individuals as well as social organizations. Hence do not get this confused with family tree symbols because they look similar but they hold different meanings than kinship diagram symbols.

A circle for a female.
A triangle for a male.
  A square for someone who is identified as neither sex nor both sexes.

You should place a line through the appropriate symbol only if the individual is deceased.

Marriage and cohabitation

An equal sign between two individuals so that it indicates a marriage.

An approximate equal sign (≈) indicating a cohabiting couple who are not married.

A similar sign (~) to symbolize parents who are not cohabiting or married.

A not equal sign (≠) if a marriage has ended in divorce.

This is if an individual is married twice; then you should use equal signs on both sides of the symbol, with the first spouse on the left.

If the individual has been married more than twice, draw lines connecting the spouses below the symbols.


Here you should use a solid line, straight down from marriage or cohabitation symbol, to indicate the biological descent.

You can use a dotted line to indicate the adoptive descent.

Now if you do not know the parents of an individual, then you should indicate common descent between brothers and sisters by drawing a bar right above the symbols.

The process of making kinship diagrams

Now that you have the symbols down, it is very simple to create your kinship diagram online, especially in an intuitive collaborative platform such as Lucidchart. So to avoid starting from scratch, you should first check out our kinship diagram template.

 1. Adding ego to the centre of your page

You will need to designate one individual, that is identified as ‘Ego’ this is the starting point of your kinship diagram. Although most kinship diagrams use different colours or styles to highlight the ‘Ego’. For example, in the template above ‘Ego’ is the only symbol that is filled in with color.

2. Adding Ego’s kin

Now by using the kinship chart symbols described above, you can add in the relationships that you would like to visualize. You should record the Ego’s parents and ancestors just above the Ego, the Ego’s siblings should be at the same level as the Ego is placed, and the Ego’s children as well as descendants right below the Ego.

Furthermore, if you use a Lucidchart, then the majority of shapes that you need are available in the flowchart and shape libraries just to the left of the editor. If you want you can also copy and paste special characters such as the non-equal sign from the internet or your word processor.

3. Change colours or style based on descent rules (this is optional)

Although it’s your choice to stop right there or you may just want to customize your kinship diagram a bit further so you could explain the culture that you’re diagramming. For example, you can easily track descent rules or the cultural recognition of children as kin. You should know that culture usually follows one or two descent systems such as mentioned below;

  • Cognatic descent system (non-unilineal descent) – This traces relationships through both the father and mother.
  • Bilateral descent system – This considers both sides of the family as relatives.
  • Ambilineal descent system – Here the children are required to choose either the mother’s or father’s side of the family to consider relatives.
  • Corporate descent system (unilineal descent) – This recognizes only one family line as kin.
  • Patrilineal descent system – Helps to recognize the father’s line as relatives.
  • Matrilineal descent system – Helps to recognize the mother’s line as relatives.

Now on your kinship diagram, you can choose to use different colors to show the paternal or maternal family lines to clarify the social relationships.

4. Writing out relationships (optional)

If you find that your kinship diagram has become too extensive, or if you would like to make familial relationships 100% clear then you can add a tag just below each shape to show its relationship to Ego. There are some kinship charts that use shorthand for common terms, such as the ‘M’ letter for mother and ‘B’ for brother.

All set to get started with a kinship chart template

Well, whether you are charting out your own lineage or attempting to trace historical families, it is very easy to create your own kinship diagram. You will surely like using the kinship diagram template or family tree template in Lucidchart as you will get to save time. The intuitive platform provided here offers you plenty of options where you can customize your diagram just the way you like it.


We hope that you find the above information useful and you have all your queries answered right here in this blog. Nevertheless, if you still have other related concerns or you would like to know more then you can feel free to contact our well-trained experts at +1-800-566-7300, who are available at all times. And they will make sure to assist you according to the most suitable details.

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