A “Shared Match” is a match with whom both you and a person in your list of matches share DNA.
Shared Matches are important because they help you see which of your matches are related to each other and help you form clusters. Both of these help you figure out how you are related to your matches and where you or they fit in the tree.
Learn More About Clustering Here: Search Step 7: Pedigree Triangulation
Some of the DNA companies use different terms for Shared Match – but they are the same thing.
- Shared Match – Ancestry, My Heritage
- In Common With (ICW) Match – FTDNA
- Relatives in Common – 23andMe, Living DNA
- People Who Match Both Kits – GEDMATCH
Best Practice: When communicating with your matches and others about a Shared Match, it is best to use the term of the company you are contacting them through.
Example: At Ancestry, use “Shared Match”. At FTDNA use “ICW Match”
Each DNA company has different criteria for what is an isn’t a Shared Match.
Notable Limitation: Ancestry doesn’t include matches less than 20 cM unless the match is also in your Thruline.
Shared Matches, Clusters, and Triangulation Groups
Triangulation Groups identify the segment(s) or piece(s) of DNA you inherited from a particular common ancestor. This can be especially helpful for figuring out more distant mysteries.
A Cluster includes Shared Matches both with and without overlapping DNA segments.
Triangulation Groups are a specific type of Cluster in which everyone is a Shared Match AND share the same overlapping segments of DNA.
Not all DNA companies offer the same services for Triangulation Groups
Note: You must have access to the chromosome browser data to identify Triangulation Groups.
- MyHeritage automatically identifies triangulation groups in their unlocked tools and will identify the triangulated segments on the chromosome browser.
- GEDmatch will identify Triangulation Groups by running a report available with a Tier 1
Notable Limitation: You cannot identify Triangulation Groups on AncestryDNA.
Learn More about Segment Triangulation Here: Applied Autosomal DNA (201) Class