Salt Lake Mailing & Printing Blog

Taking your Family History from Boxes to Book

Black and white family photos lying on each other.Many people, especially in Utah, enjoy delving into and discovering their family histories.  Some people devote years of their lives to creating these works of history, only to end up with boxes and binders full of fascinating information that you can only share with family members when they come to your home.

Once you’ve put so much time and effort into a project, it’s unfortunate that it can’t be fully enjoyed by your friends and family members.  An easy way to compile this information in a way that can be shared is to print books to distribute to your family members to have and read in their own homes.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

Contact a printer.  Knowing how your book will need to be formatted in the end will help you at the beginning.  Ask about required page sizes margins, file formats, and anything else they will need to take your project from file to print.

Decide on the scope of your history.  Compiling a general family history can be unorganized and overwhelming.  Sticking with a particular line in your ancestry will be a far less daunting task.  You may want to pick just one of your ancestors about whom you have a lot of information and talk about that person, their life, and a few of their influential ancestors and progenitors.

Digitize as you go.  When you find new information, write it immediately in the file you are using for your book.  If you aren’t ready for it, write the account or information and save a separate, well-named file so that you can easily access it when it’s time to add it to your project.  The same rule applies to photographs and journals.  Scan, save, and accurately name anything you will want to enter into your book as an image.

Stay organized.  It’s much easier to work in an organized, linear manner than to work on a piece here and a piece there, particularly if you labeling and saving each item in an inconsistent manner.

Have someone else proofread.  We often have a hard time catching our own mistakes in our work.  Having another person, or several people, proofread will help you correct errors and ensure you are telling the story in a straightforward, understandable way.

Decide how many books to print.  Books generally cost less when you have them all printed at one time.  Reprints can be quite costly and have higher minimums than you want.  Talk with your family members and ask them to be realistic about how many copies they would like.  If budget permits, you may want to print a couple of extras to have on hand just in case.

Finalize your format and print.  Talk with the printer again and make sure you have done everything you need to have your book ready to print.  Once everything’s ready, give the go ahead and get them printed.

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