The numbering is the key to the system. When I began genealogy work I knew that I needed a system that a) was easy to understand and remember, b) worked for both computer files and hard copy files and c) would be intuitive for future generations inheriting the work.

My numbering system is based on the 5-generation pedigree sheet. If you print a five generation pedigree sheet it looks like this:

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Notice how each name is automatically assigned a number. For your first five generations of direct line ancestors, the numbering in this system is taken directly from the pedigree sheet. You are always number 01 in your genealogy. Because of this, it is important to keep your genealogy in different folders on the computer for each person who does genealogy on the same computer.

Each and every person in your genealogy files must be assigned a number. The first two digits of each person's number is based on the 5-generation pedigree sheet. People numbered 01-31 are the same on the pedigree sheet and in the EGE system. So, if you are scan photographs of your maternal grandmother, you would number the images 07_001, 07_002, 07_003 and so forth. Your maternal grandmother's number is 07. The three numbers at the end are merely image numbers. With three digits you can have up to 999 images. Make sure you keep the zero(s) before the numbers to keep the files lining up correctly!

There you have the numbering for your first 30 direct line ancestors and yourself.


Children receive a parent's number and an individual id# based on birth order. They should get the number from the parent who is a blood relative to you. If both parents are blood relatives, give them the father's number. Then, they receive two alpha characters representing their birth order. For example, my siblings are 02AB, 02AC, 02AD and 02AE. I would be 02AA (I'm the oldest child) except that I have a shorter number, 01, and you always number somebody by their shortest possible number. Because I am also technically 02AA, I do not assign that number to anybody else or it could get confusing. In this example the 02 represents my father. Even though I am a blood relative of him and my mother, I use a patriarchal order to number.

In another example, one of my cousins is 04ABAA. The 04AB is my aunt (second child of my paternal grandfather) and AA is her oldest child, my cousin. As you see, you just keep adding two alpha characters for each generation.

The exception to children being numbered for a blood relative is when they are the child of the non-blood relative and not the blood relative. For example, my aunt married a man who had been married before. He had children from that marriage. In my files they are numbered for him and not for my aunt (since they are not her children and were not adopted by her). Their numbers are 06ADA1AA and 06ADA1AB. My uncle's number is 06ADA1 (spouse* of my maternal grandfather's fourth child) and then the children are in birth order. The children he and my aunt had together are 06ADAA and 06ADAB. Again, 06AD is my aunt and then the numbers for each child.

If there are more than 26 children, simply move on to B1, B2... for the birth order numbering.


Spouses receive your relative's number and then an alpha character and a number between 1-9. For example, my spouse is 01A1. He receives my number first (to show that he's my husband) and then the A1. If I was married a second time, my spouse would be 01A2. This goes all the way through 01A9. If I were to marry a tenth time (I don't think I have anyone in my genealogy with more than nine spouses, but it could happen!) then they would be 01B0, 01B1, 01B2 and so forth. I include the zeroes starting with the Bs to hold the tens place. In other words, 01B0 is the tenth spouse, 01B1 is the 11th and so forth. This makes it easy to see at a glance what number spouse they are.

Remember, if a person can technically have more than one number, give them the shortest number. In other words, my maternal grandma is number 07 according to the EGE system, but technically she could also be 06A1. Use the 07 because it is shorter. This helps you know at a glance that she is a direct line ancestor.

If, however, my maternal grandpa had more than one wife I would label the other wives (any that were not my direct line) with the spouse labeling system. So, if my grandma (07) was the first wife and grandpa remarried - the second wife would be 06A2 and I would know when I looked at her number that she was my maternal grandpa's second wife and that I was not descended through her.

All of your direct line ancestors get a "real" number (no alpha characters mixed in). So, now you need to know how to number beyond the first five generations of direct line ancestors. Ancestors numbered 16-31 on your 5-generation pedigree sheet get their own five generation pedigree sheet. Everyone on those sheets is numbered with their pedigree number (02-31) the same as the first five generations, except this time they get their starting ancestor's number as their first two numbers. So, ancestor 16's father gets the number 02 after his number, making him 1602. This shows you that this ancestor is number 02 on number 16's 5-generation pedigree sheet. His children will be 1602AA, 1602AB, etc. (ancestor 16 will be one of his children, but you know by now that you will leave him as 16 because it's shorter than the alternative!). You can tell at a glance that these are beyond the fifth generation because their numbers are four numeric characters instead of two. If you ever want to go beyond 9 generations you can simply do the same thing again, adding two more digits. So you would have 161602, 161603, etc. representing generations 10-13. Generations 1-5 have two numeric characters and generations 6-9 have four.


This is the numbering system. If you want to see what a directory might look like once you have put several images into it, see Illustration E in the file system bite. See if you can identify who is who in that illustration! It may seem confusing, but it is actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Start numbering your ancestors in whatever computer software you use (or just play around with it on paper if you haven't started using software yet!). I use PAF (Personal Ancestral File - free software) and it is very simple to go into every record and put the number into the "custom ID" field. Then you can go into TOOLS, PREFERENCES, NAMES, and where it says, "append to name" select the "custom ID" option. This will cause the new numbers to show up instead of the weird RIN numbers. This is what it looks like if you click the "family" tab in my file:

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