How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 7: Typing, Copying, Printing and Commercial Publication

Part 7 (the final part of this 7-part series) contains information regarding saving your book to a CD or DVD, printing and publication options, creating a PowerPoint presentation or an e-book.

Once your book is complete, typed and ready to be distributed, you need to decide how you want it published. The following are options to consider:

Saving your book to a CD or DVD: This is the least expensive way to distribute your book in several ways. You save on the cost of paper, ink, and mailing.

Keep in mind that the only way anyone can view your family history will be on a computer screen, a DVD player or on a TV screen with a DVD player connected.

*  If you save the book as a Word or text document, anyone can make changes to your file. If you do not want anyone else to be able to make changes, consider password protecting the document so no one else but you can make changes.

*  You can save the document in PDF format which will prevent anyone from making changes. PDF files are easier to read. To read a PDF file will require the reader(s) to have a computer or a tablet or other file reader unless you save it to a DVD formatted for an external DVD player.

*..If you save the book to a DVD, be sure the format is one that can be universally read by all DVD’s. Check the save to DVD instructions in your DVD software program.

*  If you save the book to a CD or a DVD, be sure to check the size of your file.

Double-check the format. Not everyone has Blue-Ray compatible players so you may not want to purchase Blue-Ray DVD’s. To learn more about Blue-Ray format, check online.

If you have quite a few pictures and document images, it probably won’t fit on a CD and may not even fit on just one DVD. You can save it to two or more discs by splitting the file into however many parts are necessary to make them fit. If you do have to split your file, be sure to add a first and last page to indicate the file is in X number of files and which part this disc is.

If you do NOT want someone to be able to make any changes to your files, I suggest you use regular CD-R’s or DVD-R’s NOT CD-RW (Read/Write) or DVD-RW discs.

Here is the URL to a site that can give you information about size and capacity of these discs:

Link to site with CD and DVD size information

Printing: You can either print copies of your book yourself at home using your own printer or use an outside copy service. Per page copy prices whether you copy them yourself using your printer or using a copy service will vary depending upon the following factors:

*  Printing two-sided pages (printing on the front and the back of each page).

*  Printing in color or black print only.

*  Using a laser printer or an inkjet printer. If you decide to print the book yourself and intend to use an inkjet printer, depending upon the number of pages, this could be costly… more than using a copy service. Be sure to call different copy/printing services for prices before you decide. If you want your book printed in color, ask the service if they use laser color printers or inkjet. Most copiers today use laser printers.


*  Printing on 3-hole punch paper for insertion and distribution in a folder or 3-ring binder. When you are estimating the cost to print one book, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the folders or 3-ring binders in addition to the cost of the paper.

*  Coil binding. This can only be done using a copy service. NOTE: One of the advantages to coil binding and printing on 3-hole punched paper is that if you or any other family member should want to add pages to the book later, it can easily be done.

*  Perfect or soft binding (pages glued together at the spine). This type of binding is usually used for paperback publications. However, if your copy service will do this for a reasonable price, it’s a nice finishing touch to your book.

PowerPoint Presentations:  Your text and all the pictures and images can be imported and saved in a PowerPoint Presentation. Voice recordings, video clips, music, narration, and special effects can be added. Presentations can be saved to CD’s or DVD’s with menus to send to family members or uploaded to one of many sites online that only you and your designated family members and friends can view.

As for the cost if you don’t know how to create a PowerPoint presentation yourself, there are many services that can do this for you.

E-Books:  E-books require special formatting to create in order to read them on a tablet, Kindle, Nook, computer or other ebook reading device. There are many ebook publishing services that offer this type of formatting.

Cost: Keep in mind that the more pictures and documents you have, the higher the cost will be especially if you want the book printed in color. The cost to put your book together can include any or all of the following:

*  Typing of the text and Table of Contents

*  Pictures and document scanning, cropping, size scaling, adding text titles, image editing (if necessary), and insertion into the file.

*  The time to save each photograph and/or document as a file then combine them in the desired order.

*  Printing costs vary depending upon the number of pages.

*  Printing in color will cost more than in black only.

*  Special paper. If you choose special paper, this will cost more.

*  Binding costs if you choose to have your book bound.

The text portion of your book:  Most likely you’re going to do the writing or typing yourself. You may even be able to scan the pictures and documents yourself. If you know how to scan images and insert them into a document and if you know how to save a document to a CD, you might not have to pay for anything more than the cost of the CD’s.

If you don’t need many copies, you can print them at home. Remember that color copies with pictures can use up a lot of ink. It might be cheaper to save the file to a CD and take it to a copy service to have copies made.

You may be thinking, “I can’t afford to publish or print a book nor do I even want to.” It doesn’t have to be a published book. Once you have ALL of the material put together in a computer file, you can take the file to any printer or most office supply store and have copies run off for your family. You can also save copies to CD’s or DVD’s for distribution. The cost is not all that much. Price what the cost of one book will be, before you.

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you.If you found this article useful, I would love to hear from you.

In 2021 I plan to put all seven parts together into one ebook that can be downloaded in many formats from this site or from Check back with this site and the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles  to find out when it will be published.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at:

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

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How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 6: Putting everything together for typing

My Great-Great-Grandmother Nancy Ann

Part 6 of this 7-part article contains information about assembling all of the information you’ve gathered to prepare for typing it up for publication.

If you are going to give all of the information you’ve gathered 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 history journals/books I typed and formatted for publication for customers, were either dictated on cassette tapes, digital wav files 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. Remember that some or many of the photos may need enhancements especially if they’re old and possibly even bent or cracked.

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.

The Sutherland Clan 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 7, we discuss the various copy, printing, and/or publication options.

I hope this 7-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.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at:

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

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How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 5: The writing process; ideas to write about.

My GreatGrandfather George Sutherland Kibby

Now we begin the writing process. You can do this by writing, typing or dictating/ recording your ideas.

I recommend you put all of your ideas and thoughts down as a first draft and come back to it later. You’ll find you may want to do several drafts until it’s perfected. Things you didn’t think of when you wrote the first draft will pop into your mind later. You may decide to take something out or elaborate more on one particular subject of part of a story.

Now the following may get a bit confusing but I’m going to try my best to explain.

As I’ve mentioned previously, you’re going to want to create a section for each family surname (your father’s last name and your mother’s maiden name). There will of course be some duplication but don’t worry about that. You’re going to write one chapter about each family member under each surname and reference the chapters in the Table of Contents. Yes, when you’re done with the book, you’re going to create a Table of Contents.

For example: Judy Jones’ father’s surname is Jones.  Her mother’s maiden name is Smith. She would have two sections; one for Jones and one for Smith.

Judy would write stories about herself in a chapter in the Jones section (her father’s surname) but not necessarily in the Smith section (her mother’s maiden name). An alternative would be for Judy to write a completely different story about herself to go in the Smith section; events etc. that relate mostly to her mother’s side (the Smith side) of Judy Jones’s family. The choice is yours. I personally wrote different chapters about myself and chapters about my brother to go in both sections, my father’s and my mother’s side of our family thus avoiding duplication of the same material i.e. the same material in two sections.

In the Table of Contents, Judy’s name would be listed under the Jones section AND under the Smith section. If Judy had decided to only write one story/article about herself in the Jones section and NOT in the Smith section, she could make a reference in the Smith section back to the Jones section, i.e. (refer to the Section on Jones.)

But we’ll get to sections and chapter creation for individual family member stories later on.

Suggested topics for the written material:

Memorable parties or get-togethers with friends from school, work, college, an organization you belong to or neighbors (current and former).

Over the hill birthday parties

Engagement parties

Batchelor parties

Were any of your family members a member of an organization and served as an officer or did something noteworthy? You may want to include any recognition documents i.e. certificates of merit.

Military service

Events that happened way back then that are nonexistent today. I can remember when photographers would go door to door and take pictures of children on a pony. I have one of my brother and I.

Do you remember milk tokens, ordering milk from a delivery milkman (the top was always the cream), returnable bottles for refund, ration stamps during WWII, rag men who rode in horse drawn carts collecting paper and rags, mood rings, secret ID rings in cereal boxes, maple syrup in a can shaped like a log cabin, crystal sets, Barbie dolls, G.I. Joe dolls, etc.

All of these things should be very interesting to your younger family members today and in the future.

Mood rings


Mustard Seed Jewelry

Radio Broadcasts (before TV)


If these things were before your time, ask your family members and friends. Look them up online. Adding these things to your story will make your book that much more interesting to your readers especially for future generations.

Have you saved your old address and phone number books? I have and so did my mother. I found names and addresses for people I had forgotten about long ago. Seeing the names triggered memories I then wrote about. I used the old addresses for relatives who have passed away as part of my stories. I also looked up some of the addresses for close relatives in Google Earth and saved pictures of the residence to include in my stories. Even if the person you’re writing about has been gone for many years, it is still interesting to those reading about them to see where they used to live especially if the person reading it is also a relative.

To make stories more interesting, especially when you don’t have any pictures of the person you’re writing about, I added images from Google Earth showing the area where an ancestor lived… even the house itself… if I had the address. I downloaded pictures from the internet of what the area looked like when they lived there i.e. my Great-Grandfather was born in 1840 in Spencer, Tompkins County, New York and lived in Chemung, New York. I searched and found several picture postcards on the internet of what Chemung, New York looked like in the 1800’s. (Refer to the pictures at the top of this article.)

For example a business card may remind you of a friend you knew a long time ago and some things you did together.  If you kept all of your own business cards, they could be scanned and included in your book to serve as a visual illustration of your promotional climb at work.

Examples:  My uncle Bill passed away in 1959. He was born in Brooklyn, NY. I happened to find the address in some of my father’s things after he passed away. I looked up the address in Google Earth, found the residence and saved the picture for the story about Uncle Bill.

My father was born in Buffalo, NY in my Aunt’s home. I found the address, looked it up in Google Earth and saved the picture of the home to add to my story about my father.

Through research, I found out that my great-great-grandfather lived in a little town called Spargurville, in Highland County near Rainsboro, Ohio. I didn’t know the address but I looked up the town in Google Earth and saved several pictures of Spargurville. I also looked up some history of Spargurville and added that to my story.

For example I found out my GGGGrandfather came to America from Ireland in 1790 with his father and fought in the American Revolution. I wrote to the government archives and obtained a copy of a handwritten account of his service, how he fought for two years escorting settlers to safety from the area around Pittsburg, PA to the Philadelphia area during the Indian uprisings just before the revolution. He then reenlisted for another two years and guarded the British prisoners after the fall of Yorktown. I found that three GGrandfathers fought in the Civil War, two on the side of the Union and one in the Army of the Confederacy. Two of them almost died of Typhoid fever and one was captured and held in a Confederate prison. I found a lot of historical information I never read about in school.

Include friends. You might even want to add a section for those special lifelong friends as well.

Look up stories and pictures about the time your relatives were born and lived: It makes your stories more interesting if you add in interesting bits and pieces about where they were born and lived especially if they came from another country and you know the time period.

Example:  My great-grandfather George Sutherland was born in Inverness, Scotland. (His picture is above.) I do not know when but, judging by my grandmother’s age, I estimate it must have been around 1850 or 1860. I looked up the history of Scotland and found pictures of Inverness, Scotland around that time. I also knew that my great-grandfather was a member of the Black Watch. I looked it up and found pictures and information about the Black Watch. I added those stories and pictures to the story about my great-grandfather.

Be sure to do a search for all the surnames you want to write about in your book. This may sound crazy but someone may have already started a site for one of those names.  I found a site for my maiden name with a lot of very interesting facts. I also found out there is an entire book written about my maiden name going back to the 1,600’s. The book contains names, birth dates, death dates, last known city and state, who they married, information about them and their children with dates and a complete lineage of ancestors for each name in the book. My name and my entire family are in that book and I didn’t even know it.

Potential Problems:

Below I’ve listed just a few facts. To learn more, there are FAQ files in many ancestry searching sites online.

  1. When you’re doing research, you’ll find it’s difficult tracing women because of married names especially if they’ve been divorced and married again. Obtaining Social Security records when possible can yield a lot of information regarding maiden names.
  2. When you go back two or three generations, you’ll find most men didn’t have middle names which makes it difficult to pin down a specific name especially if it’s a commonly used last name. You’ll need as much information as you can about that person to definitely identify him i.e. age, where he lived, who he married, how many children he had and their names, where he was born and when.
  3. Only fragments remain of the 1890 Census report. The building they were housed in burned down. For more information on all of the Census reports every done, go to This site contains a lot of good information about all of the census reports.
  4. In the beginning, Census Takers went door to door and wrote things down by hand. As a result, you’ll find many errors with name spelling and other information. In addition, errors occurred when the records were converted to computer files because the typist couldn’t make out the handwriting or made typing errors i.e. spelling, etc.
  5. Obtaining records from the states of New York, Pennsylvania and New England states can be very difficult and daunting because that is where most of the people immigrated to and settled before the American Revolution. Many people were born at home so there are no records. Checking ship and Ellis Island records can be helpful if you know approximate dates.
  6. Immigrants and settlers came into America through New York (Ellis Island), North and South Carolina and even through Nova Scotia and down through Canada.

Family members should be listed in the order of their position of hierarchy in the family (see the basic sample illustration below). Most ancestry sites provide a variety of hierarchy listings to guide you.

To make it clearer to your readers, in addition to the Table of Contents, consider creating a list for each family member showing the relationships.

Sample Hierarchies:








Your children

Your Grandchildren

Your GGrandchildren

If you have a video on a CD, DVD or even a VCR tape, pictures can be taken from the video (a frame) and saved as a snapshot for insertion into your book.

If you pass on a CD or DVD to family members, hopefully, one of your relatives or more might decide to continue on and keep adding to it making this a perpetual living family album. This would be your legacy to your family.

Refer to the various pictures in your text. If you have titles under the pictures with short explanations, this will help cut down on the text you have to type.

I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts.  The next post is Part 6 – Putting everything together for your book .

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Journal for publication is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found this series useful.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at:

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 4: Organizing and Cataloging Pictures and Documents

My Great-Grandmother with my grandfather and my great-aunts and uncles.

On to organizing and cataloging all the material you’ve gathered for your book thus far.

1)  Now that you’ve sorted the pictures, documents and mementos by family member and section into piles, go back through them to be sure you’ve picked the best ones to t in your book. If your funds to print the book are limited, this will be especially important. The more pictures and document images you include, the more pages there will be in the book which will raise the printing or copy cost per book especially if the book is going to be printed in color. However, if you are going to save the book to a CD or a DVD or create a PowerPoint presentation, video/movie or e-book to distribute on CD’s or DVD’s, the printing cost will not be an issue. The cost of CD’s and DVD’s are much less than printing, copying or publishing. We discuss printing costs in the last chapter.

2)  Once you’ve picked all the pictures, documents and mementos you want to use, sort the items in order by age starting with the youngest first. Stories should usually begin when the person was the youngest and lead up to the present time.

3) On a legal pad or notebook page, write each family member’s name at the top of the page. Create a separate page for every family member you are going to include in your book or, if you created an Excel Workbook, enter the information in the appropriate page.

4) Once you’ve written a family member’s name at the top of the page, number down the side leaving every other line empty.

5) Number each picture and document on the back lightly in pencil. For some pictures or documents you can use post-it sticky notes to place numbers on them so as not to deface the picture or document.

6) How many times have you looked at a photo and wondered who the people were, when was the photo taken, where and what was the event? The stories in your book will be much more realistic, interesting, and meaningful if you identify each photo or document you use in your book using the names of the people in the picture, dates, where the picture was taken, the event and other meaningful information. Identifying the pictures and documents will make the reader (including you) feel they were there too and a part of the story especially if the reader is a family member who knows or knew the person the chapter is about or was there at the event. Ask friends and family members if they can help you identify the people in the photo and the date, if possible.

Below are some recommendations:

a)  The person, place, and date the picture was taken including month, day and year and any other significant information to identify it.


Mom playing baseball at the family picnic on the Fourth of July, 1997.


Don Smith, Jim Jones and Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.

b)  Consider adding some descriptions or comments either in the title or description in the picture or document image or in the story directly below.

Examples:  “My hair was much longer there then than it is now.”, “This picture was taken after the accident.” “This is our old house in the background.” OR  “This was my first car, a 1950, Chevy convertible. Boy I loved that car.”

c)  Name the people in the order they appear in the picture from left to right.

d)  If the picture has more than one row of people, identify them as: Back Row: John Smith and Jim Jones, Front row, Sally Jones and I.

e)  If all the people are in one row, identify them this way: Left to Right, John Smith, Jim Jones, Sally Jones and I.

f)  It helps to use last names because some people, including distant relatives or future relatives might not know the people or remember them in the future including you. People change and you might not recognize them later.


Left to Right: My first cousins Don and John Smith, Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.


Back Row:  My first cousins Don and John Smith

Bottom Row:  Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.

g)  You might even want to put ages in. Example: “This is a picture of me at grandma Smith’s house in Cleveland in 1965. I was only two years old then.”

h)  Place each picture in the book on the same page as you write about the event even if it’s just a short sentence. When you write about the event, reference the picture. Example: (See picture above or below).

i)  If you decide you want to use the same picture in several different sections of the book, make a note of that in the family member’s identification sheet.

Example after you have written the complete description, write: This picture to also be used in the section or sections (name) in the chapter or chapters for (name).

An alternative to placing the same picture in more than once section or chapter might be to make a reference on the page you’re writing to the page where the picture or document is located. Example:  See section (name), chapter (name), page (number).

7)  Next, go to one family member’s pile of pictures and documents. Find the page you created for that family member in Step #3 (or go to the page in your spreadsheet) with that family member’s name on it.

8)  Choose the first image or document you previously numbered in Step #5 (i.e. Item #1) that you want to include in this family member’s chapter and write the information recommended in Step 6 about that image on Line #1 of the page. This information is the information that will be typed below the image in the book. The information can either be typed in the picture or document image itself as a title or in the story under the image. This is especially important if you are going to add the information to the image itself as a title at the bottom of the image.

9)  Continue doing this with every picture and document you’ve gathered for that same family member. When done, put everything including the list in the envelope.

10)  Follow this same procedure for every family member.

11)  Sort all the envelopes containing pictures and documents by family surname, most likely two piles; one pile of envelopes for your father’s family section and one for your mother’s family section (her maiden name). For family members branching off under different surnames, we’re going to make sub-sections under the main sections, etc. If you had a step-mother or step-father, they would have their own sections. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Don’t worry about a family member needing to be listed in more than one section. I’ll cover that and make this clearer in the next part of this article. For now we’re going to just have two piles; one for your father’s side of the family and another for your mother’s side. We’ll break them down later.

An example would be:

Chapters about your father’s family to be included in your father’s section would be the following in this order:

First would be a chapter about your father’s mother and father (your grandparents)

Next, a chapter about your father.

Next, your father’s sisters and/or brothers (your aunts and uncles)

Your aunts and uncles children (your cousins)

Your cousin’s children etc.

Chapters about your mother’s family would go in her section under her maiden name in the same order. The same would apply to step-parents, brothers and sisters.

12)  Now write the surname (Section name) for each family member on each of the envelopes that belong to that family name above their name and number them in order by oldest family member first, youngest last. (See above.)

The next article in this article is Part 5 – The writing process; ideas to write about.

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found this series useful. I’m more than happy to help.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at:

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 3: Suggested List of Pictures and Documents

My 6th grade class picture, can you guess which one is me? I’m right behing the teacher.

Gather all the items you think you want to include in your book. All pictures and documents will be scanned and saved as images that will be inserted into your family history book in the article about that person.

Include all of the family members you have information about. If you don’t know much about a family member, ask other family members. Get them involved in helping you create something that everyone will treasure for years. If your parents and grandparents are still living, be sure to talk with them. I didn’t get interested in my ancestry until after my parents and grandparents had passed away. I regret every day that I didn’t learn as much as I could from them before it was too late. I’m sure there were many memorable pictures, stories, and valuable documents that are long gone. Future generations of my family will now have a documented record they will value. My hope is that one or more of them will pass it on and continue to add to it making it a living legacy.

If there is a particular person or persons in your life who have been a significant part of your life but they’re not family members, consider adding them to your book in a separate section. Example; there are two women I’ve known all my life. Their parents double-dated with my parents before they were married. Their parents were like an aunt and uncle to me and their daughters my cousins. We still keep in touch through Facebook and email. I have many pictures of them and their parents. A family history wouldn’t be the same without them in it.

If someone else is going to edit and format your book for printing or publishing along with scanning your pictures and/or documents, do NOT make copies of pictures and/or documents to give to them. Copies of pictures and documents do NOT scan well. Use originals for scanning. Don’t discard or rule out old pictures or documents that may be cracked or faded. Originals of old pictures or documents can be enhanced and restored through the scanning process and use of a photograph/ document enhancement program. I’ve had old pictures that, after they were enhanced, looked almost as good as I’m sure the original did. If you have some pictures that need enhancing or resizing and don’t know how to do it, you may have to hire a professional to do this for you.

If you know how to scan pictures and plan to have someone else format the final book for publication including inserting the pictures with titles etc., scan the pictures and save them in JPG format. You can then copy them to a CD or DVD and give them to the person formatting your book for the final production.

If the pictures need resizing and/or enhancing and you don’t know how to do that, the person who will be doing the final formatting can probably help you with that as well. By the way, be sure to ask about that before you hire someone. You don’t want to have to hire two different people. That could get costly.

All of the items you gather will serve as “memory joggers” as well as illustrations as you write. As you read through this list many of these items will have significant meaning for you and help you to remember events that happened or topics you want to write about. There are many examples to assist you in Part 4 of this 7-part series.

Suggestion: Print and keep this list handy as a “memory jogger” as you begin the writing process. You may even want to print one copy for each family member and highlight the item on the list you want to write about. I’ve added a line to write in the family member’s name in case you would like to print a copy for a particular family member.

Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 3: Suggested List of Pictures and Documents”

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 2: Getting Started

My Junior Prom – 1952. I’m the second one from the right. I made my prom dress is sewing class.

Part 2 of this 7-part article assumes that you’ve read the Introduction and that you have an interest in writing a family history book or journal.

Your family history book is going to contain a chapter about every one of your family members going back as many generations as you can even if it is just one short paragraph or two. It should contain stories and as much information about them as you know and/or can locate. Note: you may wish to confine your book to current immediate family members only and not include and ancestors. That’s okay too.

Your family history book should include pictures and documents as part of your stories. Each chapter will serve as a short biography of this person including your connection and experiences involving the members you knew personally. You can make the chapters as short or as long as you want. Note: some of your immediate family members may be deceased. I suggest you write a short chapter about them with pictures anyway.

Your family history book is going to have sections containing the chapters. The minimum number would be two sections; one section for your mother’s side of the family (her maiden name) and one section for your father’s side of the family. You may want to add another section for special friends if you like or a step-parent or in-laws.

I go into more detail with many ideas of what you can do to make your book more interesting, colorful, real and “alive” in Part 4. If you have some ideas and suggestions you would like to share, please leave me a comment below and I’ll add them to Part 7 with recognition of your contribution using a first name or initials only.

If you want to get into genealogy researching to find out as much as you can about all of your ancestors as far back as possible, there are many sites on the internet to help you; some are free, others are by subscription. There are several very good computer programs that are reasonably priced that you can purchase and install on your computer, then enter your information and the program will organize lineage, your family tree and many other features including the ability to imbed images of documents and photographs, stories, etc. There may be classes offered on this subject online, through your local community center, school or an organization you belong to.

There are now DNA services where you send away a sample of your DNA and find out information about your heritage. More on this later.

Okay! Are you ready? Let’s get started. Below are the first steps.

In order to organize everything prior to writing and gathering pictures, documents and other items, you’re going to need the following:


  1. A package or box of 8 ½” x 11” mailing envelopes. (Very inexpensive.)The number of envelopes you need will depend upon how many people you’re going to write about. You’re going to use one envelope for each person to store all the pictures, documents and other mementos related to that person.
  2. You’ll need a package of sticky notes. I suggest you get the medium to larger size with plenty of room to write on.
  3. A pad of legal paper or lined notebook paper.
  4. Several colored Highlighter pens.

Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 2: Getting Started”

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 1: Introduction

The woman standing up is my grandmother with her sister – 1912

Welcome to Part 1 – The Introduction of the 7-part series on How to Create a Family History Journal for Publication.

Have you ever thought about or wanted to create a journal or book about your family containing stories, pictures, and information about your current family and your ancestors; something permanent you can share with your family now and pass along to future generations? A journal about your family member that can continue to be added onto as time goes on?

If so, be sure to read this 6-part article with instructions about what to do to create and document your family history as well as ideas of what to include. Creating your family history may be a little time consuming at first but the rewards are well worth it. You can start with some of the items you probably already have in your possession. Maybe you have already begun making notes about events and meaningful experiences.

It’s not as difficult or costly as you might think. Part 6 of this article contains information regarding copying, printing, publication options, and approximate cost.

Your book would not only serve as a valuable piece of family history for you and your family to enjoy, it would be something you will have fun creating. Your book would be something you will enjoy going back through from time to time to bring back memorable events you can relive in your mind over and over again.

Creating a book about your family and ancestors is an important way of converting and preserving memories forever with the printed word, pictures, video clips, and recorded narrations. You could use the book to create a PowerPoint presentation, home movie or an e-book.

History of how I came to write this series: I transcribed and put together a family history book for one of my customers. It contained 500 pages and 350 photographs and images of important documents. The final printed copy was one inch thick. Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 1: Introduction”