Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 1 of 4: Introduction and Jobs 1 through 14

When people find out I work at home doing secretarial work, I’m often asked exactly what kind of secretarial jobs I do. The usual misconception is that all I do is type correspondence for customers.

I’ll admit that when I started my business in 1998, that’s what I too expected I would be doing. Boy was I wrong. This four-part article will enlighten you as to the actual types of secretarial work you too can do at home.

In these four articles, I list 43 types of jobs that can be done at home with a computer, a printer/scanner, computer software programs, and at least a basic knowledge of how to use a computer, computer software programs, and the internet.

There are brief descriptions of the various jobs I have actually done at home. In my two future books titled How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts (expected publication in 2018), I go into more detail regarding required equipment, computer software programs, experience, training, billing, how to price the jobs, how to deal with customers, hiring and paying sub-contractors to help you with overflow, advertising, marketing and other important topics all based upon my 20 years of personal experience running my own home-based secretarial service.

If you plan to do much transcription, and you probably will, consider investing in two cassette tape transcribers; one for regular size cassette tapes and one for mini-cassette tapes. Even though we are now in the age of digital recordings, many people still have and use cassette tapes recorders. Investment in transcribers with foot pedals is well worth the cost and will pay for themselves in just one or two jobs.

Regarding the references below to call-in dictation, in one of the chapters of both of my books I go into detail regarding what is required and how to set up a call-in dictation line using your phone, your computer and an inexpensive computer program that answers the phone and records the call up to five hours in various sound file formats that can be transcribed using a free computer transcription program. I also cover internet voice mail services.

Please note that as you read through the job descriptions, some of the jobs are easy while others require more knowledge in specific areas. My advice is to keep up with the latest technology. In your spare time learn all you can in the areas you would like to become more proficient in so you can attract more lucrative jobs.

To learn more about the content of my books and publication progress, click on the URL’s to the book pages in this blog.

The first three parts of this series list a total of 43 secretarial service jobs you can do at home.

Part 1 lists jobs 1 through 14.

Part 2 lists jobs 15 through 29

Part 3 lists jobs 30 through 43

Part 4 lists the types of customers you may receive work from.

1.  Bible Scripture: Typing verses of Bible Scripture. I’ve worked for 17 years for a man who writes Christian books and Bible teachings. He calls-in and dictates to an answering program on my computer or mails me standard cassette tapes to transcribe. (My business line is connected to my computer.)

Typing verses of scripture requires special punctuation and formatting. In order to facilitate copying verses of Scripture correctly, I downloaded from the internet a free version of The Amplified Bible (which my customer preferred) in PDF format.

As I transcribed his dictation and he mentioned a verse of Scripture (the name, book, and verse number), I looked up the verse of Scripture in the PDF file, highlighted it and copied/pasted it into the document I was transcribing. All I had to do then was change the font to match the document’s font.

You will need to learn how to type/format a partial verse of Scripture. There are other special steps you should learn as well before tackling this type of work.

2.  Blogs: You may get a request from a customer who doesn’t have time to keep up with their blog. They may dictate what they want you to enter into the blog site on a regular basis. They may also ask you to download email responses and forward them to them to respond to. There are many ways to assist a customer with their blog. If you have your own blog and web site, this experience will be invaluable.

3.  Book Cover Design: This type of work is usually done by professional designers. But if you’re proficient in graphics design using programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Paint and other design and desktop publishing programs, you can do it too. All it takes is a good imagination for designing and knowledge of graphic design. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the covers and instructions as to their requirements.

4.  Book Formatting: As the years went by and digital self-publishing became more and more prevalent with authors, I realized I had to educate myself on book formatting for both ebooks and print versions. By the time I wound down the business in 2017, I had transcribed, typed, formatted, and uploaded to online publishers 24 books for customers now on sale in Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and many other major bookseller sites worldwide.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn how to do book formatting. It’s not as difficult as you may think IF you are proficient in Word. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the various size books and instructions as to their requirements

5.  Brochures and Business Cards: Many small businesses don’t have the funds to pay a large advertising firm to create Brochures and/or Business Cards for their business. This kind of work does require that you know how to work with columns, and text boxes. Word has many templates with layouts for brochures, flyers, and business cards. I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) brochures. The layout can also be used for catalogs and may include the insertion of images and photographs. This kind of work lends itself well to building a regular relationship with the customer when it comes time to updating their brochure.

6.  Cassette Tape, CD and DVD Labels: One my customers sells cassette tapes, CD’s, and DVD’s of his lectures. I designed and printed labels for the tapes. I also designed my own CD and DVD labels for my personal material and for customers. Avery and Roxio have excellent label design programs for CD and/or DVD labels.

7.  Catalogs: Some small businesses need their catalog typed listing everything from parts to video tapes to books. Typing catalogs may require that you know how to work in columns, and the use of text boxes. Word has templates. Check them out or download the free templates from Microsoft Word online.

I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) documents. This layout can also be used for brochures and may include the insertion of images and photographs.

8.  Correspondence, Emails: You could establish a regular repeat customer business transcribing daily or weekly customer correspondence and or their invoicing. This type of work will most likely be call-in dictation that you can transcribe using a computer transcription program. Once you’ve established yourself with a customer doing this type of work, you could be asked to do internet research and other secretarial work.

I had two regular customers for over 18 years. They became the mainstay of my business.

9.  Conversion of VHS and Mini-DV video tapes to PC Files and burn to DVD’s: I have received work from several customers requesting that I convert the videos they recorded using their camcorder on Mini-DV video tapes to a computer file to be saved on a DVD or CD. I’ve also been asked to convert videos on VHS tapes to a computer file that can then be saved on a DVD or CD. I cover in detail how this can be done and the necessary equipment and computer programs in my books; How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts.

10.  Data Input: This type of work requires that you know how to do data input into either a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or a database program like Microsoft Access. Examples of this kind of work: requests for data input of names and addresses for mail merging to create letters, envelopes, labels, reports, lists, etc. I’ve had customers send me templates already laid out and the source material to be input. This kind of work can come from real estate agents, insurance agents, financial and investment services people

11.  Desktop Publishing: Desktop publishing is a very specialized type of work. Desktop publishing is used to create newspapers and books, flyers, brochures and business cards because of the program’s ability to create movable sections, columns, images and many special effects you can’t do in a word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. To do this type of work correctly you need a desktop publishing program such as Adobe InDesign. If you have a creative “nature” and think you would like to get into this type of work, check out the Adobe InDesign internet site for additional information.

If you do decide to purchase one of these programs, be aware they are expensive, but well worth the price IF you have a demand for this type of work. You may be able to purchase an older version for less on the internet just to get you started. Currently, Adobe requires an annual subscription for their programs. Be sure to check out their site and others.

To be honest, I’ve never had much call for this type of work. Most customers looking for this kind of work go to professional publishers.

12.  Dissertations for college students: This type of work will require that you understand the various styles and formats required of the college the customer will be submitting their dissertation to. Most colleges require the APA style of writing.

You can download helpful articles from the internet on the various styles. I have URL’s of these sites in Appendix A of my book How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service. If you plan to go into this kind of work, I highly recommend you purchase the latest versions of The Chicago Manual of Style and the Turabian Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

13.  Flyers: Flyers are pretty straight forward. A variety of templates to create two, three, and four-fold flyers are included with Microsoft Word, Excel and other software programs.

14.  Forms Fill-in and/or Design: This is not the type of job you will get many requests for. However, it helps if you know how to do this kind of work so you can offer it to a customer or if the job you’re doing is one that might require a form to be completed. You might receive a job where the customer has a form that needs to be filled in.

If you have a program like PaperPort, OmniPage Pro, or Adobe Acrobat, you can easily scan the form, create fill-in text boxes in the document then type in the required information. Once the form is complete, save it in PDF format and print it for the customer. Acrobat also has a function whereby if you have the form typed and laid out in a Word document, It will automatically complete a fill-in form for you. (More on this in my book.)


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 or how to run your own secretarial service from home, let me know.

Send me your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the Leave a Reply section below or use the form to send me an email. Be sure to include your name, email address, and clearly state the issue.

Be sure to drop by again. Next week I’ll be posting Part 2 – Jobs 15 through 29.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle)

Medical Information Cards – Part 2: List of Information to Include

Below is a list of suggested Item Headings and Information to include in your Medical Emergency Information Cards and Information Documents:

*  Your name, address, phone number, status: Living alone, single, married, working, retired, living with a roommate, etc. Be sure to give the names of the people you live with and their contact information.

*  Emergency Contacts: Include the relationship i.e. daughter, son, husband, wife, friend, significant other, fiancé, roommate, etc. List all phone number for these people i.e. cell, home, work, etc.

*  Insurance Information: Be sure to type in ONLY the last few digits of your insurance policy number, the name and address of the insurance company and their claims phone number. NEVER include your full social security number, policy numbers, or passwords to your insurance information. If you give that information and your emergency information card is lost or stolen, it could be used by others to use your insurance.

*  Physicians: Include their specialty i.e. primary care, gynecologist, dermatologist, optometrist, surgeon, etc. Give their phone and fax numbers as well as their addresses.

*  Current Medical Issues: Cancer, diabetes, high BP, asthma, psoriasis, MS, thyroid condition, lupus, leukemia, strokes, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Aids, Hep C, etc.

*  Surgeries: Include the reason for the surgery, date, where it was performed, and the physician. Also list any complications that may have occurred either before or after the surgery.

*  Current Medications AND Supplements: Over-the-counter vitamins and supplements CAN interact with other medications. IF you end up in the ER or with a doctor NOT familiar with your history and leave this out, it could mean the difference between life and death.

*  Allergies: Airborne, food, animals, latex, medications, vitamins, lotions and any other items that you are have allergic reactions to. If you know it, put down the date when you had your first reaction and/or were diagnosed with this allergy. They may also ask you what your reaction is i.e. a rash (describe), short of breath, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Implants: Replacement lenses from cataract surgery, hip, knee, heart or other replacement, pins or screws from bone fractures, heart monitor or pacemaker. If you have any type of implant and the doctor gave you the information as to the model number, manufacturer, etc., be sure to add that.

*  Immunizations: Flu, tetanus shot, pneumonia, measles, etc. Be sure to mark down the dates and keep this information up to date.

*  Tests: Blood tests, MRI, CAT Scans, PAP, colonoscopy, dates, doctor, hospital and the reason for the tests.

If you know your blood type, be sure to add it. If you’ve given blood and you have credit for the blood given, be sure to include this in case you ever need blood yourself.

Are you an organ donor?

*  Do you wear glasses or contact lenses or have glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye, or other eye issues?

*  Do you have a hearing loss or wear a hearing aid?

*  Do you wear dentures?

*  Special Diet Considerations: In case you’re in the hospital be sure to note if you have any food allergies, are diabetic or have digestive issues i.e. Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

*  Family History: Any information a doctor or paramedic should know about i.e. your family has a history of heart disease, diabetes, high BP, asthma, cancer (type), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Aids, etc.

* Other considerations: Be sure to list all other important considerations i.e. prone to seizures, depression, and any and all other issues that can periodically occur.

Keep one set of cards in your wallet, every purse, the glove compartment in your car, on your refrigerator with a magnet in plain sight and in every suitcase when you travel.

Give copies to your family, a neighbor, a close friend, the office of the complex where you live, a coworker and/or your employer. Ask your family to create Emergency Medical Information Cards as well and carry them with them at all times.

I keep a copy of this information printed out and placed in a manila folder on the top of my refrigerator plainly marked in large red letters: MEDICAL INFORMATION FOR ….. (YOUR NAME).

On the refrigerator door I have an 8/12” x 11” page with my picture on it marked, “FOR MEDICAL INFORMATION ON (NAME), PLEASE TAKE THE ENVELOPE ON TOP OF THE REFRIGERATOR.

On that same page, print any other CRITICAL information a paramedic should know immediately

 * Do you live alone?

 * Do you live with husband, wife, son, daughter, caregiver, roommate?

 * Are you living in an assisted living facility? If Yes, give the name of the facility, address, phone numbers and name of people or person to contact.

Last but not least, if you have a relative or are caring for someone with dementia, strokes, Alzheimer’s or other illnesses that have severely impaired them, suggest they have a family member complete this information for them or do it for them yourself.

Not only do these cards come in handy in an emergency, but as a reference for you should you find yourself in the hospital, a doctor’s office or even in an ambulance and need this information. If it’s an emergency situation and you are conscious, you can hand it to the paramedic, doctor, or nurse or tell them where to find it. They can serve as a reminder of things you probably would not have thought of or remembered.

If you’re unable to communicate, chances are an ER doctor or paramedic will check your purse or wallet for identification information and find the card. It’s accurate and contains everything they need to know about you in order to properly treat you.

I hope you never need the Emergency Medical Information Card and Information Documents but I guarantee it, if you put these together, it will give you peace of mind just knowing you have it. If you do need it, it could help save your life.

Once again, thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. 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 cover, let me know in the Leave a Reply section below.

If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books.

Bookmark this site and check back regularly for more valuable tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts as well as articles on specific topics regarding transcription work and working at home as well as updates on my novels. The Schedule of Future Postings page will be periodically updated.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” (Confucius)

Medical Emergency Information Cards – Part 1: Instructions

How many times have you been sitting in a new doctor’s office, an emergency room, or a walk-in clinic and had to remember very important information for the endless forms like the one above you have to fill out?

The form asks you for the dates you had your last tetanus or flu shot, PAP test, colonoscopy, mammogram or physical.

They’ll ask you about surgeries you’ve had i.e. date, the name of the doctor, hospital you were in, what the surgery was, where it was performed, any complications, and other details.

Another important question will be about any allergies you may have; food, airborne, or medications of any kind including prescriptions and/or over-the-counter drugs like aspirin. This is especially important if you are allergic to any medications i.e. penicillin.

Could you give the answers ASAP especially if you’re hurt or sick? Chances are your answer is No.

Have you ever been in an emergency situation and been asked for vital information by a doctor or a paramedic?

Have you ever thought about how important certain information concerning your medical history or current medications would be to a paramedic or an ER doctor in an emergency situation especially if you’re unconscious and can’t communicate?

Do you have emergency contact information on you at all times in case you’re unconscious? Even if the paramedics were able to find information and contact your family, would your family member know or could they give all of the information a doctor or paramedic should have to properly treat you i.e. your current medical conditions i.e. diabetes, thyroid condition, high BP, etc.?

Would they know the exact medications AND supplements you currently take, the reason for the medication, the dosage and when you last took it? This information is vital to the doctor, nurse, and/or medic taking care of you. Not having this information could mean the difference between life and death… yours!!!

Instructions for creating the cards

If you have a computer and a printer and I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this post, you can easily create a set of Medical Emergency Information Cards containing this information using reasonably priced business card stock available in most office supply stores. The cards are small yet can contain vital information about you that could save your life in an emergency.

Using Microsoft Word, open the Avery business card layout template. Type in the information suggested below and print the cards. It may take from three to six cards to type in all of the information. Use a size 9 or 10 font. On the first card, you can insert a small headshot picture of yourself to serve as additional identification.

You can type some of information on the first page of ten cards (or more if you need them) then create a second page to add the rest. Print the cards front and back printing page one on the front and page two on the back. Staple them together at the left end. If you need help or have questions setting this up, use the Leave a Reply section below.

Stop back next week. I’ll be posting Part 2 of this article, “List of items to be sure to add to your medical emergency cards”.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. 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 cover, let me know in the Leave a Reply section below.

If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books.

Bookmark this site and check back regularly. The Schedule of Future Post page will be updated weekly.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

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Timing your work for billing and/or personal purposes with a computer program.


Have you ever had a need to time a job or have your employee(s) or sub-contractor(s) time their work for billing purposes? Have you ever wanted to keep track of the time it takes you to perform a task, type a manuscript or other task? If so, then this tip is for you.

When I started my home-based secretarial services business in January, 1998, I was faced with the dilemma of how to charge for my services. I quickly found that charging everything by the hour was not practical especially when you sub-contract typing and transcription work to others. Some sub-contractors type faster (and more accurately) than others so charging customers and paying sub-contractors using an hourly rate didn’t work.

I knew I had to charge either by-the-typed line or by-the-typed page. But how could I come up with a charge that would result in the hourly rate I wanted for both myself and my sub-contractors. I decided on a per-typed-line rate based on a 12 point Arial font with 1” margins, single spaced.

When you charge the customer by the typed line rate instead of by the page, the customer doesn’t pay for a partial page or for more pages because the document is double-spaced. The customer would pay the same rate whether the page was the standard letter size (8 ½” x 11”), legal size (8 ½” x 14”) or any other size. This is fair to the customer and to the sub-contractors.

The only way I could determine the time it takes to complete each of the different types of jobs I do, typing and transcription work in particular, was to keep track of my time and keep records. But how could I do that efficiently, accurately and fairly?

Searching the internet, I found a small, easy to download and install utility timing program called Time Stamp. Time Stamp has many great features I list at the end of this article.

To find the program, click on this link: (URL) Syntap.

Using Time Stamp to time the typing and/or transcription jobs I was able to determine the time it took to do the job. I timed typing and/or transcription work from handwritten material, documents that contained many strikeouts and handwritten notes, documents that contained tables, financial information, technical terms, etc. I timed transcription from cassette tapes, videos, and digital content based upon the quality of the recording and the quality of the person dictating. I timed transcription from meetings where many people were involved and meetings with questions and answers and many interruptions.

I then counted the number of words typed in the timed job and divided the total minutes by the total number of words. Using this formula I was able to determine a fair rate to charge the customer according to the type of source documentation provided by the customer to be typed or transcribed. I paid my sub-contractors sixty percent of what I charged the customer. This worked out perfectly thanks to Time Stamp.

Many of the jobs I’ve done i.e scanning and converting to text jobs, special formatting, etc. can’t be charged by-the-typed line so I use this program for accurate invoicing of those jobs as well.

I used Time Stamp to estimate how long other types of work took to do so I could determine an estimate when a prospective customer called. I made a chart in Excel with all of this information and kept it handy to give customers a quote either over the phone or by email.

If you decide to try the program, go to the web site listed above. Click on Downloads and follow the instructions from there. This program is FREE… well actually, it’s “Donationware” which means it’s free but the author would appreciate a contribution to continue enhancements and support, which I gladly sent because this program is well worth it. If you decide to use the program, I’m sure you will agree.

To use the program after you install it:

1) Type in the hourly rate you wish to charge and click on Timing.

2) If you are interrupted before you finish the job, click on Slacking.

The timer will divide the time into Work (billable) Time and Slack Time listed at the top listing the total time and cost for each.

You can time different phases of a job by stopping the timer then starting it again.

3) To stop timing the job, simply click on Timing a second time.

Each phase of the job you time will be listed on a different line containing the work time, slack time and total of that phase of the job.

At the end of each line under the Notes column, you can type a short explanation of what you did during that time.

The file can be saved using a file (job) name in any folder you wish. When you’re finished with the job, you can print out the entire page showing all of this information.


Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. 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 cover, let me know.

If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books. I hope to publish my first novel, Road Rage Dolls: Someone is Murdering Road Rage Drivers in January or February of 2018.

My second novel to be published in 2018 is titled Susan’s Stalkers – Double The Fear.

I’ll be updated publication information and excerpts from my novels in this site.

You can leave your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the Leave a Reply section below.

Bookmark this site and check back regularly for more valuable tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts as well as articles on specific topics regarding transcription work and working at home. The Schedule of Future Postings page will be periodically updated.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” (Ralph Marston )

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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 make your decision.


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.

In 2018 I plan to put all seven parts together into one book that can be downloaded in many formats from Check back with me to find out when it will be published.

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 Leave a Reply section.

Bookmark this site and drop by again. I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

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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. Next week I’ll post Part 6 – Putting everything for your book together.


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.

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 Leave a Reply section below.

Bookmark this site and drop by again.

Gail S. Kibby White

To receive emails regarding publications and new posts, use 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.)

Next week I’ll post 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 series this useful. I’m more than happy to help.

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.

Gail S. Kibby White

To receive emails regarding publications and new posts, use 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”

Take the time to proof your work properly; what to look for.


I cannot stress enough the importance of carefully proofing your work when you are done. Even the very best typist/transcriptionist will make mistakes. It’s very easy when you’ve finally finished a long, time consuming and arduous job to give in to the temptation to not go back, read it over and check for problems.

I mean let’s be honest here. By the time you’ve finally finished the job, you’re sooooo tired of this document you just want to be DONE with it and move on. DON’T give in to this temptation. I’ve done this more than once and been sorry and very embarrassed later when my customer returned the document for corrections. This does not give the customer or your boss a very good impression of you as a professional. Most likely, you will not have a repeat customer or a good reference when that happens.

In addition, it is NOT a good idea to go back over and proof your work right after you’ve finished it especially if it was a long and tedious job. You’ll most likely have a tendency to rush through it and increase the chances that you won’t catch some of the mistakes you made. If you can, wait a day. If that’s not possible wait a few hours, get away from the computer and do something else to clear your mind. Then come back to it.

Things to look for: Continue reading “Take the time to proof your work properly; what to look for.”