I was reviewing the GEDCOM 5.5 specification and I am not clear as to what field should be used to store the basic Haplogroup information for an individual from DNA testing as described in What information is important to record.

The challenge both being I want to store it in a portable field not proprietary to my software as well as ensures the integrity of the data for the time it was measured. As both the Paternal Y-tree STR/SNP are being revised yearly and the Maternal mtDNA trees are also being updated but not as often..so I need to capture the Haplogroup and branch as well as the year identified.

Currently I am using "Ethnic Origin" in MacFamilyTree.. but I do not see a Ethnic Origin tag in the GEDCOM standard.

enter image description here

The GEDCOM export of the above data exports under RACE tag.

  • RACE mt: H1n-T146c (c.2015)
  • RACE Y: R1b-Z273 / CTS-12074 (c.2015)

Their Skin Color is listed as "COLO White".

The Race tag is very generically defined in the GEDCOM standard as simply:

  • RACE = Race
  • COLOR = Skin color

Is there a more standard tag or label that is more appropriate to use than RACE for this information?

  • 3
    Nice examples of how to write out mt and Y DNA data. I don't know if I've seen that anywhere before (except in your link back to my question). Hopefully genealogy software will start to add some DNA analysis tools to them.
    – lkessler
    Dec 23, 2015 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, as you likely know, GEDCOM predates DNA research for genealogy and does not have specific tags or specific instructions for dealing with DNA data.

As far as new standards go, BetterGEDCOM started discussing DNA but never defined anything. And GEDCOM X and FHISO have not yet delved into DNA.

For now, if you want to record in MacFamilyTree, picking the RACE and COLOR tags and using them ONLY for your mt and Y information will get you by and are as good tag picks as any, since MacFamilyTree will allow you to export them.

At the point in time that you want to transfer your data to another program, you can test how the other program reads those tags in and displays them. If it doesn't do it correctly, you might be able to find a different tag that you don't use that the program does read in. Then open your GEDCOM with a text processor and "change all" your "2 RACE" and "2 COLOR" statements to "2 xxx" as appropriate.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.