4 Ways To Get A List Of Surnames From Your Family Tree

If your family tree is on Ancestry.com or another online website, there’s no simple way to export a list of surnames.

This article shows you several different methods to get a full list of people from your family tree into a spreadsheet.

We then show you how to turn that into a distinct list of surnames.

Method 1: Use Copy-And-Paste On Ancestry.com

If your tree is on the Ancestry platform, then the simplest method is to copy from the display that lists your tree entries in a tabular form.

This is a great option for smaller trees, but can be a lot of manual work with larger trees. Follow our tutorial on how to copy-and-paste an Ancestry tree to spreadsheet.

Next Methods: First Export Your Tree To A GEDCOM file

For every other method in this article, you’ll need to have your tree in a GEDCOM file.

Here are walkthroughs for different online sites:

Method 2: Use Family Tree Software

Most of the major family tree software packages can export a list of people in a format that can be opened in a spreadsheet.

Family Tree Maker can do it, but it’s a bit pricey if that’s all you want to do.

The free Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage can also do this. You can download it here. You’ll need to register a free account on the MyHeritage website to use the software.

You’ll also have to deal with extra authentication (2FA). The app will ask for a verification code unless you turn off 2FA on the website. If you choose to disable it,

You should now import the GEDCOM file into Family Tree Builder. The import option is under the File menu.

Now that you have your family tree in the software, the next step is to export a list of people with these steps:

  1. Expand the Edit drop-down menu in the top bar
  2. Choose “Export to Excel” from the list.
  3. Click on “Export list of people”.

Provide a name to export to a file with the .csv extension. You can open this in Microsoft Excel (it may open automatically if you have Excel on your local machine).

You can also upload the file to Google Sheets.

The data in your spreadsheet will be formatted into multiple columns, including the “Last name”.

Method 3: Follow Our Python Code Tutorial

If you are familiar to beginner level with any programming language, you will probably be able to follow our tutorial to convert your GEDCOM to a spreadsheet.

This needs a little technical know-how. If its too daunting, you can allow us to do it for you for a small fee – see the next section.

This will give you a list of every person in your tree. If you want the distinct list of surnames, then

Method 4: Upload Your GEDCOM To Us

You can use our paid service to convert your GEDCOM to a spreadsheet. This gives you a list of surnames along with these features:

  • Surname frequency report.
  • Word clouds based on name frequency.
  • A separate list of your direct ancestral line.
  • A five and six-generation pedigree family tree you can print on a single page.
  • A seven-generation family tree that prints across two pages.

Use The Spreadsheet To Create A Unique List Of Surnames

You now have a spreadsheet with a list of people. Surnames are probably repeated multiple times.

These three steps will give you a unique list of last names.

Step 1: create a new worksheet for the unique list

Start by copying the surname column in your worksheet into a new tab or spreadsheet.

Step 2: remove blank rows

If you have entries with a first name and no last name, you will have blank rows in the column. At this point, I like to remove them.

Here are the simple steps to remove blank lines in Excel.

Step 3: eliminate duplicates

This is the key step to get a list of unique surnames.

Follow these steps to eliminate duplicate rows in Excel.

Check How a Surname Ranks In Popularity

You can now do some neat stuff with your unique list of surnames.

One of the things I like to do is identify how rare some of these surnames are in the United States or Ireland. These tend to be easier to research.

Our website has a simple online tool that tells you how a single surname ranks in the 2000 and 2010 U.S. census. There are quick instructions and examples in our article on “how rare is my last name?

It’s not a complicated tool, so you might just want to jump straight into it. Here’s the link to the surname ranking tool.

Want to check all your surnames?

It would be a bit tedious to use our tool to check lots of names. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here is our tutorial that automates checking how rare all surnames are in your family tree.

Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

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