Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 4
Make the most of your genealogy time now, and in the future, with these ideas.

Given the need to stay home, the question is how to make this extended time pay off.  Today, I propose that you make a surname cloud from your family tree. I can’t pretend that today’s project will help your research. But it is great to see the results of your genealogy research a whole new way. And it does make a nice graphic to use as cousin bait or interest younger family members. Above all, it reflects your hard work. So, if you’re a little bleary from research, try this project.

Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 4: Make a Surname Cloud

Word clouds are a visual representation of the frequency of words within a given body of text.

For a quick-and-easy surname cloud:

  1. Open your family tree to the list of people in your tree.
  2. Filter the names to include your direct ancestors, or decide which surnames you want included.
  3. Visit (This is a free site, so turning off your ad blocker is a courtesy.)
  4. Click on the Wizard button at the top of the page. Type in or paste the surnames you want to include.
  5. Experiment with different fonts, colors, spacing, and shapes to achieve your desired results.
  6. Download or screenshot your surname cloud.

surname cloud instructions

For more elaborate trees:

  • Check if your desktop family tree software allows you to export surnames into .doc or .txt files.
  • Limit your list to direct ancestors of a given person for x generations. For the cloud above, I used nine generations.
  • Add a surname to your list for every person in your tree who bears it. I have three different lines of Rosses, so the surname Ross is larger in the surname cloud shown above, to represent how frequent that name is in my tree.

That’s it for Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 4. Your surname cloud is a wonderful illustration of the research you have done. I hope today you’ll stop and savor the results of your hard work in surname clouds. For other genealogy project ideas, as we stay safe at home, click here.