Your Y-DNA Matches

Understand your Y-DNA Matches at FTDNA 
 
To see whom you match and how closely, you will first want to go to your personal page at FTDNA, myFTDNA.  Log in at www.familytreedna.com using your kit number and the password they sent you when your kit was returned. 

Where can I find an explanation of how to interpret my results?
If you have not already, you may want to click on "Resources" in the dark blue band near the top of your myFTDNA page.  Then click on "Interpreting Your Results" and download an ebook that will explain what your results and matches mean. 

How do I sort my matches?
  • Accessing your matches
    • Place your curser on "Y-DNA" in the dark blue menu bar across the top of your myFTDNA page.
    • Click on "Matches" in the drop-down list.
    • The default display at the highest level you have tested and across the Entire Database
    • If you have no matches at your highest level testing, the display will automatically drop to the next level and display your matches
    • If you wish, you can use the "Filter Matches" section to adjust how you see your matches:  
      • Choose to compare
        • against the entire database
        • just the surname project. (Begin with the entire database.)
      • Choose to show matches at any level you have tested (111, 67, 37, 25, 12) markers
        • You should only consider the highest comparison level for each man you match
        • Once you find that you are matching at - say 67 markers, the quality of the comparison at 37, 25 or 12 markers is no longer relevant
        • Most serious researchers do not even evaluate or display their 12 and 25 marker comparisons (unless those are the only ones they have)
        • is considered too few to confirm a common ancestor.)
      • Choose to show only exact matches, or those that miss by one marker or two markers, or all matches.
        • If you have many matches, you can consider these as your "better" matches.  (remember to only compare at the highest available level for each match)
          • At 67 markers, Genetic Distance of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4
          • At 37 markers, Geentic Distance of 0, 1, 2
          • At 25 markers, We don't believe there are "better" matches and recommend that you (or your match) upgrade so that the comparison can be done with at least 37 markers
      • Some adjustments run automatically, but if nothing is happening, click "Run Report".
  • Your List of Matches
    • By clicking the match's name, you will see all the information he has shared.
    • By clicking the symbol to the right of his name, you can send him an email.
    • The TIP symbol to the right of his name takes you to a comparison chart for the probabilty that you shared a common ancestor within a certain number of generations.  This is a statistical derivation.  For example, if you see "40% at 4 generations", that means that 40% of the men you match at that comparison level will share a most recent common ancestor with you in 4 generations or less)
    • The notepad symbol gives you a place to make notes of any information you obtain about this person.
    • If your match has uploaded a GEDCOM there will be a blue symbol to the right of his name and the other icons. 
    • You can see how may markers your matches have had tested.  This is important, as your matches are most significant when the match is made at the highest number of markers. 
      • If your match has tested at more markers, you will probably want to upgrade to the same number to see if the match holds up.
      • If you have tested at a higher number of markers, change your settings to the higher number to see if the match holds up.  He may match you at 25 markers, but disappear at 37 markers.  (That means the 25 marker comparison was a False Match)
      • If your matches have tested at fewer markers than you, you will want to encourage them to upgrade to see if the match holds up. 
    • You will be able to see the "Most Distant Ancestor" for your matches who have provided them.  Look down the list to see if any look familiar.
    • You will be see which of your matches have been SNP-tested, as they will have an extended Haplogroup.
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How do I evaluate which matches I should contact?
  • Use this method to quickly evaluate which matches are worth pursuing:
    • Start with your largest marker comparisons, depending on the number of markers you had tested. (111, 67, 37, 25, 12)
    • Only compare at the highest marker level available to you with each man you match.  Comparisons at lower levels are not relevant once you have a match.  
      • The following is a real example - two men are 55/67, 32/37, 25/25 and 12/12.  
        • A comparison at the highest level available (67 markers) confirms they do not share recent common ancestry.  
        • Had one of the two men been tested only to 37 markers, the comparison would show they might be a match (32/37) and that an upgrade to 67 marker was needed to obtain clarity.  
        • Had the level of one man been only 25 or 12, there would have been a false indication of a match and recent shared ancestry.  
        • That is why we are cautious at 25 markers and very cautious at 12 markers.  
        • We repeat - ONLY compare at the highest level available.
    • Look first at your best matches at the most markers you have been tested.  For example, if you were tested at 67 markers
      • Look first at your 67 Marker Matches to see if you have "better" matches (GD = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4)  These are your most important matches
        • Notice how many have (Y-DNA111) beside their name.  This means that these men have been tested at 111 markers, so you may want to consider upgrading to 11 yourself to see if there is any better insight at the higher ciomparison level.
        • Even if you only have higher Genetic Distance matches (GD = 5, 6, 7) with different surnames, don't completely dismiss them, as they may still have value
      • Next,  change the filter to "37" Markers category to see if you have close matches there.
        • Look at each of the matches to see if they have a parenthesis after the name with Y-DNA67 or Y-DNA111 in it.  If they do, that means you have already evaluated them as matches when you looked at the 67 marker comparison.  Either there was a match at 67 or the match did not hold up at the higher resolution.  In either case, you are no longer interested in them at the 37 marker comparison level.
        • Only consider the men with no number beside them.  THese are tested only to 37 markers.  Your "better" matches have a GD = 0, 1, 2.  You can include them with your "better" 67 marker matches when you begin contacting your matches
      • Next, you can quickly look at your 25 marker matches. 
        • Again, you are only interested in those who have no number beside their name. 
        • If a man is of particular interest because of his surname or Most Distant Ancestor, you can contact him, express your interest and encourage him to upgrade to at least 37 markers.
      • Only if you do not have any significant matches at 67, 37 or 25 markers, is it probably worth looking at the "12" Marker comparisonse. 
        • Again, you are only interested in those who have no number beside their name.
        • If a man is of particular interest because of his surname or Most Distant Ancestor, you can contact him, express your interest and encourage him to upgrade to at least 37 markers
        • 12 markers are not considered genealogically relevant by most researchers.  We recommend an upgrade to at least 37 markers for evaluation for matching.
        • There are a few situations where a 12 marker comparison is relevant
          • A solid paper trail connection exist between the two men.  (the 12/12 match is usually considered sufficient for confirmation)
          • There is no match - which confirms that the two men do not share a recent common ancestor

What does a match mean, based on number of markers tested and number of matching markers?
(note: "share a common ancestor" menas during the genealogical era)
  • For those who tested a maximum of 12 markers:
    CAUTION: a 12/12 match - even with the same surname - can be a random match. If a solid paper trail supports the 12/12 match, you can be reasonably certain of recent shared ancestry, but without the connecting paper trail - you can only be sure by upgrading to at least 25 markers and preferably 37 markers
    • Less than 9/12 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor* (The author is aware of a single case where a 8/12 become an accepted genetic match after upgrading sufficiently to have a valid comparison.   The paper trails had already indicated that match)
    • 9/12 - there is a tiny chance that the participants share a common ancestor. You'll need to test at least 37 markers to find a true shared genetic match that starts with such a low match. (The author has not yet personally seen a 9/12 become an accepted genetic match - but has heard of an occurrence)
    • 10/12 – there is a small chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Increase to at least 25 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 11/12 and 12/12 – there is an improved chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Increase to at least 25 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • A 12-marker match is generally inadequate for genealogy purposes.
    • Most researchers will not respond to a contact about a 12-marker match.
    • Many researchers don't even allow comparison of their 12-marker results.
    • Use this test to collect a DNA sample when cash flow is an issue and further testing will follow 
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test can be useful in very limited situations.  Consider testing a minimum of 37 markers
  • For those who tested a maximum of 25 markers:
    CAUTION: a 25/25 match - particularly when surnames are different - can be a random match. If a solid paper trail supports the match, you can be reasonably certain of recent shared ancestry, but without the connecting paper trail - you can only be sure by upgrading to at least 37 markers
    • Less than 21/25 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor*
    • 21/25 & 22/25 – there is a small chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Consider all of the traditional genealogy insights and try to obtain more participants to represent the affected families. Upgrade to at least 37 markers
    • 23/25, 24/25 & 25/25 – there is a high probability that participants who share a surname share a common ancestor. If there is no shared paper trail, increase to at least 37 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • Historically, researchers have considered a 25 marker comparison to be sufficient if you share a surname and match at 23/25 or better.  However - the large increase in testing activity, particularly in men with Northern European paternal heritage has diminished the value of 25 marker comparisons.  Whenever there is a large number of matches or numerous matches with other surnames, increase the comparison level
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test can be useful in some situations.  Consider testing a minimum of 37 markers 
  • For those who tested a maximum of 37 markers:
    • Less than 31/37 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor
    • 31/37 and 32/37 - the two participants have a small possibility that may share a common ancestor from the early days of surnames. This is an area with little clear insight. Increase to at least 37 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 33/37 - some researchers consider this to be a match and some don't. If there is a shared common ancestor - it will likely be more than a few 100s of years ago.  If there is no shared paper trail, increase to at least 67 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 34/37, 35/37, 36/37 & 37/37 - the participants share a common ancestor
    • The large increase in testing activity, particularly in men with Northern European paternal heritage has diminished the value of 37 marker comparisons.  Whenever there is a large number of matches or numerous matches with other surnames, increase the comparison level
    • BOTTOM LINE: We consider 37 markers to be the lowest appropriate comparison level for those of different surnames (unless they have connecting paper trails.)
  • For those who tested a maximum of 67 markers:
    • Less than 60/67 – the two participants probably do not share a recent common ancestor.  If you have some reason to believe there is shared ancestry - increase to 111 markers and re-evaluate. 
    • 60/67 and 61/67 - the two participants may share a common ancestor from the early days of surnames. Increase to 111 markers and re-evaluate. 
    • 62/67 and better - researchers consider these to be a match - indicating a recent shared common ancestor.
    • This test is recommended when comparing to others with a different surname.
    • This test is particularly useful in trying to better understand a large genetic family
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test has become the standard for comparison
  • For those who tested at 111 markers:
    • Still being studied.  Conventional wisdom is that 100/111 or better indicates a recent shared common paternal ancestor
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How do I contact my matches?
  • Don't "bother" 12 marker matches
    • Most researchers do not consider 12 markers enough to be conclusive
    • If it's your only, or an important match, contact them to ask them to join you in upgrading to see if the match holds.
  • Tell them...
    • Who you are
    • How you match
    • Who specifically that you match
    • Your ancestry
  • Ask them
    • For their help
    • To define their ancestry
    • To work together
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How important are the Ancestral Origins of my matches?
If you have not reported your own paternal or maternal country of origin, and you are confident of this information, click on "Most Distant Ancestors" and provide this information.
  • Accessing the Ancestral Origins of Your Matches
    • Place your curser on "Y-DNA" in the dark blue menu bar across the top of your myFTDNA page.
    • Click on "Ancestral Origins" in the drop-down list.
    • Shows you the countries of origins reported by those whose yDNA test results match yours.  
  • Understanding "Ancestral Origins"
    • It's important to note both the number of matches you have for a country and how many people in the database have reported that country of origin.  (For example, if you have 6 matches from England and 3 from France, you may want to focus more on France, as the number of people from France who have been tested is so much smaller - this means that the proportion from France who match you is much higher.) 
      • This information is given to you in the Percentage column on the right. 
      • Percentages above 2% are considered significant, and percentages above 4% are considered highly significant.
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How important are the Haplogroup Origins of my matches?
If you have not reported your own paternal or maternal country of origin, and you are confident of this information, click on "Plot Ancestral Locations" and provide this information.
  • Accessing the Haplogroup Origins of Your Matches
    • Place your curser on "Y-DNA" in the dark blue menu bar across the top of your myFTDNA page.
    • Click on "Haplogroup Origins" in the drop-down list.
    • Shows you the countries of origins reported by those whose yDNA test results match yours. 
  • Understanding "Haplogroup Origins"
    • Tells you the Haplogroup of your matches.  The longer, more detailed Haplogroup designations are for those who have been SNP tested.
    • Tells you the range of places in which relatives of your ancestors may have lived. 
    • It's important to note both the number of matches you have for a country and how many people in the database have reported that country of origin.  (For example, if you have 6 matches from England and 3 from France, you may want to focus more on France, as the number of people from France who have been tested is so much smaller - this means that the proportion from France who match you is much higher.)  This information is given to you in the Percentage column on the right. 
      • Percentages above 2% are considered significant
      • Percentages above 4% are considered highly significant.
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How can I contact a member of the project whom I match on the project's Results Page?
We are happy to put you in touch with a project member, if you will send us an email with the project's name and the person's kit number, along with the message you would like to send to him. 
It is probable that this person is listed among your matches on your personal page at FTDNA. To find this person in your matches, log in to your personal page at FTDNA using your kit number and the password they sent you. Then, under “Y-DNA” in the top bar, click on “Matches”. Set the “Filter Matches” for the number of markers that you have both tested,(you may also want to type in the last name of the match and/or the date you last checked the page under “New Since”) and click “Run Report” . You can click the name of the person you match to send him an email.
Since kit numbers are not included in your matches on FTDNA’s personal page, and results are reported by kit number and Earliest Known Ancestor on the project’s results page, it may be difficult to decide if you have contacted this match before. You may be able to cross check by the Earliest Known Ancestor (if given). It is best to keep a record of the email address and the date of your contact for anyone on your matches page so that you will know which ones have been contacted. However, most people are gracious about being contacted again, so don’t be too worried about emailing someone twice about a match.
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