A Strategy for Using MyHeritage’s Brand New DNA Match Labels

MyHeritage just introduced Labels, a new, free, organizational tool for DNA matches.

Labels provide customers with the ability to organize their matches in various ways. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Labels for a few days now, and I’ve developed an organizational strategy that just might work for you.

First, let’s take a look at Labels and the new match look and feel as well.

Introducing Labels

When you sign on and click on DNA Matches, you’ll see a new pop-up box that points to the little box to the left and says, “Label your DNA Matches.”

Yes, that little toolbar at the left is new too. I like that the most used functions are now the most evident and quite handy.

Let’s see how this works.

I clicked on the little square box and voila, a popup appeared that says “Manage Labels.”

Since I don’t have any labels available yet, I need to define one. Click on “Create new label.”

30 Available Labels

You can see that you have a choice of 30 selections for Label colors. I decided to experiment by creating a Label called Maternal Match. Hint – Don’t do this just yet, read through the rest of this article first because this is NOT the best strategy – even though Maternal Match seems like an intuitive Label name.

Assigning Labels

After I created the Label, I want to Label my mother as a maternal match. I select the Label I want and then click on “Apply.”

You’ll be able to see up to 7 Labels for any one person, with a little + sign for additional Labels not shown.

Your first instinct is to create a maternal and a paternal side Label – but hold on. Don’t do anything just yet. We’ll talk strategy in just a minute. You “only” have 30 labels to work with, and I think I’ve devised a way to make the best use of all 30 labels.

Favorites and Notes

MyHeritage has also implemented the star that indicates a favorite of some sort. It’s your choice what “favorite” means to you.

The note icon has been moved to the left too where you see it first thing. If you’ve recorded a note, the conversation balloon will be purple. Otherwise, it’s empty. I record notes for each match as I work on them so I know which ones still haven’t been reviewed.

Now, let’s talk about a strategy for how to use Labels effectively.

Label Strategy

My first thought was that I’d immediately create a maternal and a paternal Label. That’s the first thing a genealogist wants to know about each match, right? However, if I were to take that approach, I would effectively waste two of my 30 labels, so let’s look at a different strategy that achieves the same goal – and more.

Let’s compare “sides” versus “couples.”

A “side” would be maternal or paternal. Each “side” actually points to a pair of grandparents, so my maternal side actually means that I’ve identified descent of our matching DNA through my maternal grandparents. My paternal side means that I’ve identified descent through my paternal grandparents.

I’ve yet to determine our common ancestor.

Without additional information, I don’t know which of the two grandparents on that particular side I match someone through. I could also carry segments of DNA from both of those grandparents’ sides. What I do know is that my side of the match descends from that grandparent couple.

Every person has 32 ancestor pairs up to and including the great-great-great-grandparent level, if you count each parent as one. That’s two more than the 30 Labels available. Hmmm…

However, if you don’t include each parent individually, and just include the couples, beginning with grandparents, you have exactly 30.

It just so happens that you also have 30 Labels to work with.

Now you see why using one Label each for the maternal side and the paternal side is a waste of a perfectly good Label. If you assign all maternal side matches to your maternal grandparents, and your paternal side matches to your paternal grandparents, you have exactly enough Labels to Label each of the 30 couples through your fifth generation.

Half Siblings

If an ancestor was married more than once and you share DNA with someone who descends from that ancestor and a different spouse, that match is automatically pushed back to the earlier generation.

For example, I know that my great-grandfather, Curtis Lore, #6 above, had children with a wife before being married to my great-mother, Nora Kirsch. If I match one of the descendants of the children of his first marriage, I know immediately that match gets labeled with couple #13, the parents of Curtis Lore. How do I know this? Because the person I match is not related to Nora Kirsch, so our match MUST BE through Curt’s side of the tree.

Half relationships are wonderful because they serve to push the genetic match back one more generation.

Couple Matches

Of course, if I match someone descended through Curt Lore AND Nora Kirsch, then I need to look at Shared DNA Matches and/or triangulate each segment with other people to determine which matching segments descend from Curt’s parents and which segments descend from Nora’s parents.

Needless to say, a person I match may well need multiple Labels, because it’s certainly quite possible for me to match someone on multiple segments, some of which descend through Curt and some of which descend through Nora.

In fact, my second cousin Patty and I match through Curt and Nora on 9 individual segments. Three of those segments descend from the Lore side and the rest either descend from Nora’s side or are indeterminate at this point.

Every individual segment has its own genetic history.

Of course, if you only match someone on one segment, then you’ll (likely) only assign that match to the female or the male of the couple, assuming there is no crossover in the segment where the DNA of both couples combined to make a longer segment.

I wrote the article, Triangulation in Action at MyHeritage, here.

Editing a Label

You saw that I created the Label titled Maternal Match. However, based on my Label strategy – a maternal match shifts back one generation to my maternal grandparents, so need to change Label #1 to read, “Maternal Match – John Ferverda & Edith Lore.”

In order to edit a Label title, click on the box of anyone.

You’ll see the “Manage labels” box pop up.

If you mouse over the Label you wish to edit, you’ll see the pencil and trash can appear.


To edit the Label, click on the pencil.

You can change the text or the Label colors. You are only shown colors that are available, meaning not yet assigned to other Labels.

You have up to 100 text characters available, so you can do things like add middle names or even birth and death years when you have multiple ancestors with the same names. Not that that ever happens, of course!😊

Be sure to “Save” when finished.

Using the Labels

Referring to that second cousin match with Patty as an example – let’s take a quick look at how I can use those 9 different segment matches.

I know for sure that 2 matches are Acadian, so from Curtis Lore’s father’s side.

I know that one match is from Joseph Hill and Nabby Hall, Curt’s mother Rachel Hill’s parents.

Cousin Patty could receive several Labels.

At this point, I need to go back to the main DNA match page and view Patty’s profile to be able to add Labels. I have it on good authority that MyHeritage plans to add the Label function from multiple locations, such as Shared DNA Matches. I hope this new functionality appears soon, because I’d like to Label all of my matches to my mother in one fell swoop. (We genealogists are passionate, always wanting “just one more thing,” aren’t we!)

I selected Patty and added these Labels for her, reflecting the genesis and source of each of the segments I can identify based on Shared DNA Matches, Theories of Family Relativity, triangulation, and segment painting.

The Label Filter

Now that I’ve added Labels to matches, I can use the new Label Filter.

By clicking on the Filter button, the Filter options appear, including “Labels.” I simply select which Label or Labels I want to use.

Please note that selecting multiple filters uses the “or” functionality. This means that if I select Antoine Lore and Rachel Hill, the yellow Label, and Joseph Hill and Nabby Hall, the pink Label, the filter will return any match who has a Label for EITHER Antoine/Rachel OR Joseph/Nabby. Either Label qualifies.

This filter is not the intersection, meaning the AND functionality. The filtered match does NOT have to have both Antoine/Rachel (yellow) AND Joseph/Nabby (pink).

I can also include the star for “favorites” in my label filter selection.


Looking at my match list, I’ve worked on all of my close matches, so I know immediately which set of grandparents each match can be assigned to.

Click on any image to enlarge

On my match list, I match three of these four people on my father’s side, so they will be Labeled with my paternal grandparents, William George Estes and Ollie Bolton.

Our common ancestors are Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy, so I’ve selected to Label these three matches with Lazarus/Elizabeth as well. However, if Robert did not descend from Lazarus, but from his brother, for example, then Robert would not have been Labeled with Lazarus/Elizabeth, but with Lazarus’s parents whose Label I have not yet created.

By selecting multiple people and one or more Labels, I can Label multiple matches with multiple Labels at the same time. I can also remove multiple Labels from multiple people too.

Try Labels Out!

Think about your label strategy. What works for you?

If you haven’t yet tested your DNA at MyHeritage, you can order a DNA test, here.

If you have tested your autosomal DNA at another company, you can upload your DNA file to MyHeritage for free, by clicking here.

Need instructions for how to download your DNA file from other companies, and upload to MyHeritage? I’ve written step-by-step instructions for each company, here.

Have fun and let me know what kind of label strategy works for you!



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43 thoughts on “A Strategy for Using MyHeritage’s Brand New DNA Match Labels

  1. If you allocate 30 colours to ancestor couples there are none left for the many matches only known as paternal or maternal. Having said that, for males like me with red/green colour blindness no more than 10 of the colours are usable anyway – some shapes would have been good.

    • No, you use your paternal grandparents for paternal and your maternal grandparents for maternal, so it works out.

      As for the colorblind issue, you’re certainly not alone.

  2. This is great! I have been waiting for this! My first thought after trying it for a few minutes was that I missed being able to label matches in the shared matches list, as you mentioned too. I really hope that comes soon! I just realized that I would also like to search for everyone who is NOT a shared match, to be able to label “the other side” if the other parent is not tested. Like the “not ICW” on FTDNA? That is not possible right now, is it? If it is, I cannot find how to do it.

    I assign my matches to the child of the common ancestral couple (I do the same on DNA Painter), so basically I use the same groups as you do, but I name the labels “FF” (father’s father”), “FF MM” (father’s father’s mother’s mother”) and maybe the name of that one person, not the names of the couple. That works best for me.

  3. At the other site, I decided to use warmer and colder colours to designate the side, then value, where possible to show distance. As above, this won’t work for colour-blind. Shapes and size should also be an option.

  4. I like your labeling suggestions and it suggests some other possibilities. I think I might try labeling with numbers as names for me are cumbersome. I might try ODD numbers for the paternal side and EVEN numbers for the maternal side. Thank you so much for the work you put into this.

  5. I don’t have 30 couples in my tree, I am using DNA to find the missing links, and probably never will. So I’m wondering if I should number each person individually and not couples, as you originally thought?

    • Even if you don’t know the other half of the couple, you still know the DNA came from that couple. Also, you can always change the label names but it would be difficult to reassign if you had a lot.

      • Thanks Roberta, I know you are right. Using your strategy I have no couples for label 7 and 13 in the 4th generation, and beyond that in the 5th generation it is very scant. I will follow your lead.

  6. I spent several hours yesterday labeling and became very frustrated since there appeared to be problems at MyHeritage (maybe with their server with everyone trying to use this new feature) and the labels would disappear and then reappear. Today it seems to be better but I decided to undo everything I had done before I got too far and wait until MH makes the additional changes to add the Label function from multiple locations, such as Shared DNA Matches.

    I also found that I had multiple matches that had different family line labels among their shared matches. This occasionally happens to me on ancestry, but not to this extent, especially since I had only labeled a fraction of my MH matches. On Ancestry I usually determine that I had accidentally put the wrong color dot on someone, but I don’t think I made that many mistakes yesterday. I know its possible for 2 of my family lines to somehow be connected, but I also had one yesterday that was showing 3 lines, which I felt was probably highly unlikely. So I deleted it all and will try again later. I really love the color dots on Ancestry which have helped me a lot, so I hope My Heritage’s labeling system will eventually be as useful.

    • It is quite possible as you get to 3rd, 4th, or 5th cousins to find you are connected to several of your different lines. First one I found while working down the matching line the maternal grandparents came from two of my different lines and when went to add mom’s husband discovered he was related to a third of my lines thus making the match related to me 3 different ways through 3 different family lines.

  7. Love dotting at AncestryDNA and now to MyHeritage. I developed a schema of grouping to 2xGGP using the P1 to P8 and M1 to M8 as I find it easier than alphabetical for multiple groups. It also allows me to see how many matches I have by ancestral lines. Useful in searches for unknown lines etc… We extended this to having groups where MRCA with the match is beyond 2xGGP. Anyway, many of us over here in Australia dot as outlined in this post-https://mossiesmusings.blogspot.com/2021/02/grouping-your-ancestrydna-matches.html

    • Totally agree with the basic 16 markers. Beyond that it can be fairly flexible. And thanks for the link. Friends just starting out with 4 dots or even just 2 have planned towards 16 and that worked well for them.
      I generally work a couple of generations further on and use whatever dots suit until some mystery cluster is pinned down. Then I can roll those matches into a known group and re-use the dot for the next mystery.

  8. I work a lot with finding unknown fathers. In this case the mothers line is not relevant, so I plan to just label all «Mothers side» with one color. Now I am trying to find a smart way to use the labeling for the fathers side. Since I do not know the relationship between the matches and the client (this is what we are trying to find out), I do build shadow trees for the matches. Could it be an idea to label matches according to their connection to a common ancestor couple in the shadow tree? I am striving to find a good use of the labels to help my search for the unknown father, that other tools do not provide… If the labels showed up in the cluster report, for example, or in the downloaded shared matches file, it would be very useful… And the NOT and AND possibilities, then it would be perfect. Any advice?

  9. I also follow along with dotting via 16 great great grandparents.

    In addition, I plan to create a few more dots, such
    1. potential mtDNA or XDNA matches (one dot for both)
    2. 3rd cousin or closer. Very helpful for those low cM 3rds that get buried deep in my list and that I forget about.
    3. maybe a dot for IBS or false neg/pos matches as I seem to have a few of those
    4. a cross reference dot to matches that are also at GEDmatch or Ancestry or other sites.

    At the moment I have only dotted the top 100, as the dots not showing on the Shared Matches is a bit of a drawback.

    • I wish we could “grey out” false positives. Those cousins might be a good use of the favorite star. I think that’s maybe what I’ll do with the star. That or the X matches. Good idea.

        • Sorry my comment was incomplete.

          My dot/label is for ‘potential’ X or mtDNA matches.

          This would be based upon MH trees or Ancestry trees or occasionally actual data for X or mtDNA from 23andMe, or FTDNA or GEDmatch.

          I dont have that many of each so one dot suffices for both with an explanation in the notes. At Ancestry I have used this dot 50 times. At MH, I am just getting started.

  10. I label my matches with a label like “M2GGP Mike Smith/Susie Jones”, where M2GGP stands for “maternal great great grandparents”. I can see at a glance where they fit into the tree. I also use the color scheme of cooler colors for paternal and warmer for maternal. I do this on other sites like Ancestry.com and DNA Painter, and in any notes I write for a match. Saves space since so many limit the number of characters you use, and provides consistency.

  11. I was excited and started labeling different lines with different colors and then found out they do NOT show up using “In Common With” so they don’t help me at all to identify newer matches. They’re pretty but I haven’t found them useful.

  12. I love your idea! So I only went as far as 14 groups then I had enough left to add clusters 1 – 14 plus a Maternal and Paternal label. I will use the maternal and paternal label for cousins I haven’t quite figured out yet. Any recommendations on working with Endogamy? My dad has Eastern KY roots and oh boy! Just to give you an example, he has multiple double 3rd cousin matches, etc.

  13. I started using a scheme to label 2nd great grandparents when Ancestry came out with their colored dots. I pick a color and label the dot with the ancestors name preceded by the Ahnentafel number so that when they are sorted alphabetically the order is what I want and couples stay together. To all intents and purposes this scheme is essentially the same as yours for the main part. You have 16 pairs of 3rd great grandparents which are equivalent to the 16 individual 2nd great grandparents. Matches for whom I share a 3rd great grandparent, I assign a single dot corresponding to their child who is the connection to me. I do not have any need to label closer matches with separate colored dots. Matches for whom I share great grandparents, I assign 4 dots corresponding to their 2 sets of parents. It is hardly necessary though since I only have one MyHeritage match which falls into this category and I know how we are connected. If you used this scheme, Roberta, you would have 14 remaining dots to use for other purposes.

  14. I like the method you have laid out.

    Suggest using numbers for Groups – vs. Colors…..just lead with number for each Group.

    I have found that the palette for Excel doesn’t match with that of MyHeritage, Ancestry, FTDNA, etc.

    Example: “## – SURNAME1 & SURNAME2”

    The numbering scheme (1-30) doesn’t work well…as it’s not intuitive regarding where you are on the tree. With 30 Groups…it’s easy to lose track of where you are on the tree.


    Also, I wanted a better way to keep track of where I am on the tree….see details below:

    First thought was to keep Paternal as always odd and Maternal as always even numbered Groups….yes I was in the Navy…..again numbering is NOT intuitive…so ix-nayed that one.

    Here is a method that works: <>

    I use a “1” for all Paternal Groups and a “2” for all Maternal Groups.

    As you move through the tree…just add a “1” for Father’s Parents….or a “2” for Mother’s Parents.

    So, your 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…… is 1, 2, 11, 12, 21, 22, 111, 112…… (see full list below)

    The Group Numbers aren’t 1-30….but they make sense and you can still use 30 Groups.

    Suggest an Excel version of your tree with Group numbers for a Map.

    Again, use the following format: “## – SURNAME1 & SURNAME2”

    The added bonus is that the Group Numbers are basically universal….in that they translate easily between generations.

    To translate to/from my Father’s Kit matches, I just drop/add a “1” to each of my Paternal groups.

    Example: His “11” is my “111, his “222” is my “1222”.

    Likewise, my Mother’s kit matches are translated by dropping/adding a “2”.

    Here is the whole list:

    1 = 1 = Father’s Parent’s
    2 = 2 = Mother’s Parents
    3 = 11 = Father’s – Father’s Parent’s
    4 = 12 = Father’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    5 = 21 = Mother’s – Father’s Parent’s
    6 = 22 = Mother’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    7 = 111 = Father’s – Father’s – Father’s Parents
    8 = 112 = Father’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parents
    9 = 121 = Father’s – Mother’s – Father’s Parents
    10 = 122 = Father’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parents
    11 = 211 = Mother’s – Father’s – Father’s Parents
    12 = 212 = Mother’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parents
    13 = 221 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Father’s Parents
    14 = 222 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parents
    15 = 1111 = Father’s – Father’s – Father’s – Father’s Parent’s
    16 = 1112 = Father’s – Father’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    17 = 1121 = Father’s – Father’s – Mother’s – Father’s Parent’s
    18 = 1122 = Father’s – Father’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    19 = 1211 = Father’s – Mother’s – Father’s – Father’s Parent’s
    20 = 1212 = Father’s – Mother’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    21 = 1221 = Father’s – Mother’s – Mother’s – Fathers Parent’s
    22 = 1222 = Father’s – Mother’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    23 = 2111 = Mother’s – Father’s – Father’s – Father’s Parent’s
    24 = 2112 = Mother’s – Father’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    25 = 2121 = Mother’s – Father’s – Mother’s – Father’s Parent’s
    26 = 2122 = Mother’s – Father’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    27 = 2211 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Father’s – Father’s Parent’s
    28 = 2212 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Father’s – Mother’s Parent’s
    29 = 2221 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Mother’s – Father’s Parent’s
    30 = 2222 = Mother’s – Mother’s – Mother’s – Mother’s Parent’s

    Well, thanks again for the ideas….hope this helps someone.


      • That’s what I do, except I don’t convert to numbers. I just write MM FF instead of 2211 (and the name of my MM FF, not the parent couple – saves space).

        • I’ve left a comment above about the method I’ve used since the Leeds’ Method came along. I group to 2xGGP using P1 to P8 and M1 to M8 as well as groups where the MRCA is beyond the 2xGGP. This has proved easy for people to understand and ties in neatly with the testers pedigree chart. Some of the more advanced genetic genealogists in my network use ahnentafel numbers. I describe the numbering system I use here-https://mossiesmusings.blogspot.com/2021/02/grouping-your-ancestrydna-matches.html

          • I believe that most Swedes find the terminology of #xGGP utterly confusing and impractical since we have specific words describing the exact relationships instead. “Farfars mormor” means father’s father’s mother’s mother, which is a much clearer description than paternal great great grandmother (which we have more than one of). That’s why I prefer to write FF MM instead of paternal 2xGGP, it tells me exactly who it is without having to look it up in a tree with numbered people or couples. But of course everyone must find the method that works best for them.

  15. Trying to figure out how to work the number system where by your numbering 14 and 22 are the same couple as the female in 6 and 10 is the same person (the husbands are 2nd cousins).

    Second part 13 and 19 are same as the male in 6 and 9 are brothers. To top that off the couple are 1st cousins and the male is a sibling to the male in box 10.

    Hopefully this isn’t too confusing!!

  16. I actually find the AND function at Ancestry VERY useful. It allows me to tag folks in much more distant groups.

    I have eight primary tags, one for connections through each great-grandparent, Maternal-Maternal-Maternal through Paternal-Paternal-Paternal. I label those with
    “3 MMM via Ada Robinson” through
    “3 PPP via James Bennett Watson”.

    I then create more tags:
    “4 ___M_”
    “4 ___P_”
    “5 ____M”
    “5 ____P”

    For a match who appears to connect five generations back through my direct Watson line, I tag them with “3 PPP …” AND “4 ___P_” AND “5 ____P”. For matches with only single connections, I now can use 32 different tag combinations using only 12 tags, so still have 9 left for other purposes, out of the 20 colors plus star (at Ancestry). At MyHeritage, I would have used fewer than half of the available tags with this scheme.

    Another clear use of the AND function:
    Anyone who matches on 3 PPM and 3 PPP is a candidate for a connection through my dad’s dad, my PP line. That’s where my first cousins, half first cousins, and their descendants all appear. Of course, the amount of shared DNA can also make this clear.

    For folks with multiple connections, I don’t typically use the 4* and 5* tags, but can use any combinations of the others. This lets me ask the question “which of my matches appear to connect through BOTH my Robinson and Watson lines?”

    I don’t see that the “OR” function would be as useful. Can you provide an example? Perhaps it would be useful for “this match seems to connect somewhere on either of these lines / through either of these groups.”



  17. As a pure Mathematician – AND,OR and NOT are the obvious Boolean operators, NAND/NOR as found in much microcircuitry chips also works but makes a much less intuitive relationship when filtering DNA links. The MyH filter I would like to see added is a block for matches <%x – or at least greyed out as some else has suggested. 10,000+ matches is unmanageable at present, and I suspect many are down in the "noise" level of innate shared DNA in a European context at least. Very interesting discussion and suggestions above. THANKS.

  18. I will leave the same comments as I do for Ancestry as they have a similar system. Why is it, that a company specialising in inherited traits, ignores the 8% of the male population (that’s 1 in 12 of us) and 0.5% (1 in 200) of the female population who are colour blind ? Too many of these coloured dots are too close together for me in shade, so the system is next to useless. All that MyHeritage had to do was add a small (different) symbol in the middle of each dot and then those of us with this inherited trait could use the system.

  19. I use ANCESTRY labels, and as far as I know there is no limit to the number of labels you can define. I am not aware of coloring them.

    As for the dot system presented here, I tried a few different methodologies, but they seem limited in nature.

    Right now I carry my matches in a spreadsheet.

    I would really like to see a label or marker that can be “inherited”. For example, I am a Mayflower descendant. That is 13 generations ago for me. I would love to be able to set a marker on my Mayflower ancestors and have that marker carry down to all the people with that same ancestor. That would tell me a world of information. I can imagine connecting someone to an existing person in my tree, and by the glory of automation, have it light up with a notable ancestor indicator.

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