I am wondering if there is any "genealogical standard" for denoting end of line (such as there is a symbol on tombstones that means this) or that it is definitively know they had no offspring.

I have done a little bit of searching and not found anything specific as well as have come up with a couple ideas how to do it myself, but I do not want to use any of my ideas if it is out of line with convention.

I have also looked at a couple pieces of software and looked at a couple sites that have online trees and none have a 'flag' to denote this either at this time that I have seen.

I personally use MacFamilyTree as my primary software, but also use Ancestry.com Web and Ancestry's Family Tree Maker as a 'secondary', but also play with others on occasion.

It would be increase efficiency, bring closure, as well as be good supporting information if it could be done outside of notes.

To be clear, I am not looking for ideas (I have several myself). I am looking for a documented and recognized standard for denoting this.

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    In the GEDcom standard, there is a Child Count attribute NCHI which can be set to zero for an individual or a family, but if/how it is displayed will depend on the software you're using. – user104 Jan 19 '15 at 11:53
  • @ColeValleyGirl I added the software I use. I also looked at a GED export of my trees and do not see that tag in there for individuals who have no children or those with children. – CRSouser Jan 19 '15 at 15:40
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    In the software I use (Family Historian) the tag isn't "computed" automatically but needs to be set explicitly to zero (or some other value) to be present, because (of course) there is always the possibility that there are unknown children until and unless you explicitly record there were none. – user104 Jan 19 '15 at 15:56
  • Along the same lines, I'm also interested in a standard designation for "never married", as distinct from "don't know". – cleaverkin Jan 20 '15 at 19:53
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    @Cleaverkin, Gedcom has the NMR tag for number of marriages (has to be set explicitly to 0, analagous to the NCHI tag.) – user104 Jan 21 '15 at 8:25

The following symbols are used in genograms and other descendant charts to denote a childless union and individuals without children:

childless couplechildless individuals

(Google: chart symbols "no offspring" for examples of use and other variant forms)

Pedigree charts (where all the parents/ancestors of course have an offspring) don't need this symbol.

Genealogical reports tend to use internal numbering and full wording to describe the number of children and whether they had further descendants.

  • I have not seen these within any genealogical programs that I can recall. Do they exist or are these just manual? – CRSouser Jan 19 '15 at 15:53
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    These symbols have been used in published descendant charts for a long time. AFAIK most current genealogy software doesn't apply any of the historic genealogical symbols (*+ oo [] etc) either in reports or charts or in GEDCOMs. I myself use a custom event called "Offspring" to denote the number of descendants, if any, in my FamilyTreeMaker database. – bgwiehle Jan 19 '15 at 16:01

In my Brother's Keeper software there are several event fields which can be added to denote children or lack there of:

  • Never married
  • No children from this person
  • No children from this marriage
  • Number of children (person)
  • Number of children (family)

It comes in handy when printing reports with obituaries which list a current spouse plus children from previous marriages.

  • Do you know how it exports these in GED as I could only find the tags @ColeValleyGirl mentioned in her comments above in the following document – CRSouser Jan 28 '15 at 16:08

As far as software conventions go, it depends on the software. I've used Legacy Family Tree for many years, and they have a checkbox on the marriage/couple screen for specifying "no children". As @ColeValleyGirl mentions in the comment to your question, most software won't assume there are no children when none have been entered -- this could mean that none have been found yet. It must be explicitly set.

With regards to a genealogical standard, I haven't come across one myself. A fairly common one I've seen in published genealogies and some records is the phrase "no issue", which means exactly what you are asking: no children, end of the line. Note, however, that no issue only applies to a particular union. In other words, one individual can have multiple spouses/partners, and have children from some of them, whereas other relationships produced no issue.


The formal way of recording it in English Genealogy was to record it as a note that the 'A person had died unmarried and or without issue' to de note that the a given family line had died out. However I have not seen it used for many years. I think it is still used.


The SVG Family-Tree Generator turns this on its head to display a visual indication of the situation. Normally, a solid green circle is used to represent a familial link between two persons (basically a marriage and/or children of their union), and any corresponding children are linked to this circle. This symbol is deemed to indicate that linked children are a complete representation of all known ones. In the cases where some or all of the children are not shown then a striated green/white circle would be used instead. NB: this is not an established convention that I'm aware of; just a different way of approaching the problem.

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