How to Create a Family History for Publication – Part 5

Chumung, NY in 1880 – Where my GGrandfather was born.

Part 5 of this 6-part article contains information about assembling the book’s information just prior to typing for publication.

If you are going to give all of the information you’ve put together to someone to type for you, it is imperative you keep everything about each family member (chapter content) together in their own large marked envelope including the chapter number on the front of the envelope and the chapter heading. You may prefer to use file folders and write this information on the front of the folder.

Inside the envelope or folder, include your handwritten or typed summaries and other notes for the typist in addition to the photographs and document images to be included in this chapter.

If someone else is going to be typing your book for you, in each envelope/folder, be sure to reference on your handwritten or typed notes, each picture by number, names of the people in the picture and other information that identifies the photo or document. Make notes of what title you want the typist to type under each photo and/or document image on the page in the book.

Include notes for the typist where the image should be inserted, i.e. on the same page as your notes, on the top, bottom or back of the page or on a page of its own. If you want multiple pictures or document images inserted, be sure to note for the typist in what order they are to be inserted and if you want more than one image on the same page. Number them clearly.

All of the family books I typed and formatted for publication for customers, were either dictated on tape for transcription or given to me as handwritten or typed material. I then scanned all of the photographs and documents as JPG images to be inserted in the final document.

You might want to consider placing all of the images/photos you want on the same page in small envelopes with notes attached to the outside as to what titles you want under each image and in what order on the page they should be placed. Then place the smaller envelope with the images and your notes inside the appropriate large envelope or folder.

If you already have scanned JPG images, copy them to a CD or DVD and give them to your typist to insert into your typed book.

Examples of the various chapters of your book and what they should contain:

The beginning of the book:

The Title page (The very first page): Think of an appropriate and unique title. Consider adding a logo, family photograph, a collage of family pictures or your family crest.

If you are going to type the information in your book yourself in Word or another word-processing program, be sure a blank page follows the Title page. That way when your book is printed, the blank page will be on the other side of the Title page.

About the Author: Write some background information about you, why you wrote this book, and when you wrote it. Add a picture of yourself. Mention where you’re living and where you were born. Use your imagination. Make it short (about one page or less) yet interesting.

Acknowledgment and Dedication Page: This is the page where you may want to acknowledge any assistance you received and dedicate the book to one or more people.

Table of Contents: Here you’ll list the chapters and page numbers. This will be the last thing you fill in after the book is complete with all of the chapters typed and pictures inserted.

Introduction: Elaborate more on what prompted you to write the book and some background about you, your current family, and ancestry. One customer I typed/formatted a book for inserted maps of the area her family was from in Russia. She added copies of information she found online about the ships her ancestors sailed to the U.S. from Russia on. She elaborated on where they came from to familiarize a reader with the family in general and what to expect to find in the book i.e. stories about her family both in Russia and in America as related by each family member.

Sections: Each surname family should be in their own section i.e. a section for your father and his side of the family, one section for your mother and her side of the family and maybe even another section for close friends. You and your siblings will most likely be included in all of the sections with different photos and notes about special events and memories.

The chapters in each section: Each family member should have their own chapter complete with pictures and document images. Name the chapters after the family member the chapter is about. This makes it much easier when you’re putting the book together or browsing through the published book. If you have one long file, it makes it harder to find the section and chapter you want to add the information to or if you want to go directly to a specific family member’s chapter.

Because you’re going to have different sections by surname i.e. Jones (father’s) section and Smith (mother’s) section of your book, it would help if you name the envelope or folder you are going to store your notes, writings and images as follows:

The section name first then the family member name (Chapter in the section):

Jones Section – Emily Jones
Jones Section – name, etc.

Smith Section – Dolly Smith
Smith Section – name, etc.

In the next and final part of this article, Part 6, we discuss the various copy, printing and/or publication options.


I hope this 6-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found series this useful.

If you have a question regarding dictation transcription or how to run your own secretarial service from home, let me know. Send me your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the comments section.

Bookmark this site and drop by again. I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts. Next week I’ll post the final part of this series, Part 6 – Copying, Printing, and/or Publication.

Gail S. Kibby White

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