Robins's Visual Chart Form Tips

Re-Shaping a Chart

This page created 1 Sep 2014

Hosted by Terry's TMG Tips

This article explores how change the printed width and height so that uses less area. It is often done because there is a need to try and fit the chart in a specific wall space or stop a reader being lost as they follow long horizontal lines for great distances sometimes often getting lost on the way. A wide but shallow chart has the advantage of maintaining generations in horizontal rows but it is seldom unrolled because of the inconvenience. A re-shaped chart will lose that single row for each generation, but with color-coding it can be easily understood and because of shorter width can be left open to view.


Imagine a descendancy chart being like a grape vine on a trellis. The descendant sub-trees are like clusters of bunches of grapes. If there were more horizontal wires on the trellis, and the branches that lead down the clusters could be varied, then the same number of clusters could be accommodated in the same sequence along the trellis in less length of trellis. The re-shaping of a chart mirrors this transformation.


To achieve this transformation, the size (both width and number of generations) needs to be thought of as a rectangle of canvas space. They should be ranked in order of width, taking account the possibility that a wide cluster may contain a sub-cluster that could be dropped down and its gap closed up. Then examine the number of rows of generation groups that could be accommodated by increasing the chart height. Typically, it is possible to reduce the width of a chart to less than 25% of its original width by roughly multiplying its height by 4. As an example, it is possible to change 20ft (6m) * 1ft (0.3m) to 5ft (1.5m) * 4ft (1.2m).


Draw a rough design on paper using labelled rectangles to represent the blocks of descendants. Put rough estimates of height and width on each rectangle. Calculate the width of each new row of blocks to see whether it will work.


All of the generic techniques are described in the following articles:

Editing Lines and Connections

Resizing the Canvas

Selecting Grouping Editing

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