Everyone is always looking for a way to take their families information, from the trees to the documents, to the accounts and stories, and place it in book form. The question that always arises is how? How do I organize it? What do I put inside it? How do I cite my sources? And the more questions you start to ask yourself about this project the more you start to realize how big of a project it really is.

Below is one way to organize your families information, and place into book from. My original post that I had done about this used a 3 ring binder. You can still use that as an option but I have removed it, and replaced it with an actual bound book option, that is both cost effective and eye catching.

Materials Needed

  • You will need:
  • Picasa 3 – or what ever photo editing software you are comfortable with. Picasa is free program from Google. Picasa has been removed from the Google web site as a downloadable program because Google has decided to abandon it. You can still find the program on other sites for download.

Recommended link for Picasa download – click here

  • My Heritage Family Tree Builder
  • Microsoft Word or Open Office

Open Office is like an older free version of Microsoft Word

To download Open Office click here

My Heritage Family Tree Builder

  • This program is great for generating charts, reports, family group sheets, etc.
  • You will need to input all of your information into this program. Or you can do a GEDCOM file to transfer what you have on other site, like Ancestry.com

To do this you will need to locate the option in the program or on the web site you are using. If you are working from an Ancestry.com tree you would do the following – when viewing your tree click on the arrow next to the name of your tree to bring up the drop down menu. Next click on tree settings, this will bring up and new page, from there scroll down till you see Manage Your Tree, and here you will be able to export your tree and its information into a GEDCOM file. When opening Family Tree Builder, you will click on file in the top left hand corner to bring down a drop down menu. From there you would scroll down to import GEDCOM file.

  • You can choose to buy the newest version of My Heritage Family Tree Maker or you can download the last version below.

Link for My Heritage Family Tree Builder

Information On Men

This is the information that you should have pertaining to all men in your tree. This information should be entered into My Heritage Family Tree Maker, or should be in the GEDCOM file you plan to import. If you are importing a GEDCOM file, the following steps should be rechecked for accuracy of information. You want to make sure everything is as close to perfect as it can be for the printing of the book.

  • Once you have input the initial couple, yourself or a family member, you can begin to add other people. This is done through the add mother or father option. There is an add child option below them.


  • When you want to enter in information on men, click on the add father option, you will then see a box like this pop up.


  • Enter in all the information you have on him; DOB, places of residence, marriage, divorce if it applies, and any other information you would like, extra information will be added in the next box when you click on the more details button. Also make sure to check the deceased box, and enter in their death info, if it applies.

Information On Women

  • You will see a similar box pop up for women, enter in the same information for them as well.

Add M


  • This one will be a bit different, as the section for marriage information is in the box for the women. This section of the box will only appear if there is a known husband, and his info has already been entered. Make sure to enter men first, if you can.
  • Just as with the men add everything you can; DOB, places of residence, marriage, divorce if it applies, and any other information you would like, extra information will be added in the next box when you click on the more details button. Also make sure to check the deceased box, and enter in their death info, if it applies.

Additional Details:

  • Make sure to add the marriage information when you are doing the woman’s information. If you forget and try and go back and add it, it will not show up in your reports or charts that you generate. This is a glitch in the system.
  • Always remember to hit the save button periodically, it is near the top left of the screen.  If you are using a newer version of Family Tree Maker clicking on the apply or accept button will save any new information you have added. This program does have a recovery feature, but it is not the best.



  • When adding pictures, click on the gray silhouette for the person you want to add a picture to. When it is saved properly it will appear as their main photo.
  • Once you click on the gray silhouette, the box you see to the left will appear.
  • Click the browse button and select the desired photo.
  • After you have selected the photo the you want for this person you would click next. This will bring up another box that gives you further options for the picture. Make sure that the photo you pick is what you want to represent the person in the book, as these photos become their thumbnail pictures in the book.

Generating Your Reports

  • Once you have everything entered that you desire, you can generate any type of report or chart you would like.
  • At the top of the family tree builder program you will see an icon and a tab labeled reports, for this project we will be clicking on the book report option. We will but cutting and pasting the information generated in this report to a Microsoft Word document or to an Open Office document.
  • I started my books with my grandparents, and generated reports on them for the book. I also have my grandparents trees separated. If you combine the sides, you will generate a combination report.


  • Once you click on the report tab, and then the book report option, you will see the following box.
  • You can then type in the name of the person in your tree that you want to generate this report on. You can skip this by clicking on the person before going and generating a report.
  • The next box that will open is for options, if you want this to be detailed, then you would check every box as I have.
  • You can pick and choose from here what you want included, and then hit the next button. The more buttons you uncheck the shorter your report will be, and in some cases will lack information that should be included.
  • It will then take a few seconds for the file to be generated. You will see a box that looks like this when it is done.


  • You need to press the open folder button first, so that you can access the file, and know where it has been placed.
  • When you press the open folder button a window like this should pop up, the look may vary depending on your operating system. The file in the blue strip, is the file you are looking for. You want to right click on this and scroll down to open with, and open it with Adobe.


  • Adobe will then open the report for you, and it will appear similar to the image below.
  • To the left it shows you the breakdown of the information.


Break Down of Report

  • The report is broken down into several pieces. I personally, did not like the order of some of it, and had additional information to add, but a vast majority of the information that it generates is gold.
  • The first section lists the descendants of the person that you generated the report on.
  • The next section will give a breakdown of relations. It will even break down how the person is related to you. This can be for anyone in the tree that you have input information for. Because my lines are so long, I have only done the pedigree for my trees, after my grandparent’s generation.


  • Family tree charts are broken up and labeled, and there is an opening page that explains how the charts are numbered.
  • After this you have an index of places. This will list the place of every person born in your tree.
  • After this is an index of dates, that begins at the earliest ancestor in your tree.
  • Last is an index of every person in your tree.
  • Family Tree Maker will cite your sources for you as you go, and will list them for each person in their section of the book.

Building and Compiling Your Book

In this area you have two options, and it’s important to decide what you want to do, so that you do not violate copyright law. In the sections on direct relations, descendant and ancestors, etc., you will cut and paste this information into Microsoft Word or Open Office. Now you can choose to leave the information as is, or you can go through sentence by sentence to edit it and put it in your own words. If you leave the information as is you cannot sell your book at any time. This is because Family Tree maker copyrights the book reports. If you choose to edit it all and put it in your own words, you have every right to sell your book. You can use the report that Family Tree maker generates for you as a base line. The same rule applies to the family tree charts that are generated. You can use them as a base to develop your own to use in the book.

When you cut and paste the end notes may not covert properly, and so you may have to go in and fix these manually. The end note option is in the top tool bar of both Microsoft Office and Open Office. Sometimes the end note function doesn’t want to work at all, in this case I bold the end note numbers so you can tell what they are.


Just a quick reminder on research:

  • Things like Wikipedia and people’s personal trees that you find on places like ancestry, are not acceptable sources in the academic/genealogical world. They can be used as jumping off points for ideas as where to research and who to research.
  • You must do additional research to confirm the information you find and to confirm your sources. Here are some great places that will help:


  • This site gives a 5 page list of places to research. Most of them are acceptable as sources.

101 Ways to Research Your Family

  • Another great place is Google, of course, and Google books.
  • Simply typing in a name, the year of birth and the year of death can yield some surprising results.
  • Switching to the books option can also give you much more then what searching in normal Google can give. This doesn’t work for every person, many names in my tree bring nothing back in Google searches. But others do, and it can be well worth it. It can also give you clues to related family members, as you can see in the example below. Mary is the daughter of Nimrod, who was a son of William. Doing a simple Google book search of this name came back with additional results on this family.


Now you can being building your book.

Compiling The Inside of Your Book


  • a screenshot of one of my books, it is hard to tell what is there, but we will go over it all.
  • I have broken up the book as follows: (A table of contents page can be made as well.)
  • Descendants, paternal ancestry chart(s), maternal ancestry chart(s), family tree chart information, family tree charts, direct relations (ancestors and descendants), section for notes, information on people or places, section for notes, information on people or places, section for notes, relationship to ancestors, index of places, index of dates, index of people, bibliography/works cited.
  • For your bibliography works cited page you can used citation machine. This is not the genealogical standard, but it will do citations in the MLA, APA, Chicago style format, and more.
  • If you want to cite your sources to the genealogical standard I recommend getting the book Evidence Explained. This very large book goes into detail about how to cite your sources, and how to cite each one.

Citation Machine

Capturing an Image For Your Book

  • To capture an image you want, you need to use the screenshot option, or the snipping tool.
  • Below you can see what the screenshot button looks like, and what the snipping tool looks like. The screen shot option is labeled print screen.

You can use this option to make screen shots of the family tree charts. Once you have taken the screen shot you will save it. Make sure you save it to a file you know. Once you have saved it you can edit the image. Opening it in Picasa allows you to crop the image if needed. After you have edited the image to your liking you would insert it into your Microsoft word or Open Office document. This can be done by clicking on the insert tab at the top of either program. The insert tab is in the same bar as the file tab at the top. Remember that Family Tree Maker copyrights its charts and so you cannot use images of their charts in a book if you are going to sell it.

If you are inserting things like newspaper clippings, make sure to cite where the clipping came from.

When you input the information you have found through research, things like historical accounts, news paper clippings, etc., you have three options as to how to do this.

  • 1) If you have a line like mine, that is Mennonite, there is very little information on any one individual person, even men. So this section of my book on my Mennonite line is about where the people in my family came from, where they migrated to, and about the Mennonite culture. This is the only way to get some idea of who these people were.
  • 2) If you have tons of information, on tons of different people, you can choose to make this section about all the notables in your line. I have done this for one of my lines, that just seems to be a goldmine for historical figures, even obscure ones.
  • 3) If you have a combination of information, you can do both. Splitting this section into two parts. The first being a short summary of the area and history, and the peoples that inhabited it at the time, and the second being on each person who you have found that has information on them.

My best example for this is one of my husbands lines that goes back into Spain, and into the Basque region. I have the first part of this section about the Basque region, the next section talks about the notables in his tree. The break I place in between the sections is an area for notes. You can dedicate a few blank pages to notes, if you would like, as research is ever on going.

You can make these sections as long as you would like. Here is an example of different ways I have done my sections.

The first example is a synopsis on Groningen, Netherlands, and the Mennonites that lived there. Since information on individual people is limited among the Mennonites, the best way for me to get a sense of their lives was to research where they lived. The second is a synopsis on an individual person on the non-Mennonite side of my tree, who had large amounts of his life documented historically.

Always remember any synopsis or summary about a person, place or event needs to be in your own words if you intend to sell your book. Copying someone or another work directly is plagiarism and violates copyright laws.

If you are not selling your book, and just compiling the information you have collected, the inside cover page should make that clear, and that you, and anyone else that helped, compiled what is contained within and that you are not the author.

Printing Your Book

There are many steps to this, so please read to the end. I figured this part out through trial and error, and put this together to make the book printing process easier for you.

When you set up your accounts, both Create Space and Lulu will ask for information to pay you out for your book sales as well as to file the appropriate tax forms for you about how many books you sold. Each year they will send you a form to use on your taxes that recorded your book sales.

  • When you have everything cut, pasted, inserted, and it is in the order that you want you can then print off your word document. To save your self the paper, print double sided.
  • If you want this in a 3 ring binder then make sure to get the printer paper that has the holes already punched in it.
  • If you want it nicely bound you can print it off and take it to Fedex Office or Office Depot and have them bind it for you. It costs about $6.00 to bind 200 pages. (You want to print it off yourself, it is much cheaper. If you have one of these place it do it, printing the book is upwards of $75.00


  • You also have the option of having your book printed in a professional manner. These books can then be sold on Amazon. If you decide to sell your book, keep in mind the copyright rules we went over earlier.
  • There are two companies that offer the best printing options. The first is Amazon, through a company called Create Space, the next is Lulu. Amazon owns create space, but limits your books page number depending on the size (below is a chart of their sizes and maximum page numbers). Lulu limits your book to 740 pages, some of specific sizes do allow for more pages. I recommend Create Space for anyone with smaller family trees.

Create Space Book Chart:


Lulu book printing

Create Space book printing

For both sites you will need to create a free account.

Create Space

Once logged into create space, click on add new title on the left side of the screen in the small box of options. This will bring up a new screen and being the process of printing your book. You will be lead through the process step by step. Start by naming your project, click the paper back option and then click on guided option at the bottom. All you need to do is follow the prompts from here.

  • Title Screen: here you will name your book, use the subtitle box if you want to add the date range on the cover of the book
  • You also have the option of doing volumes if you want to break it up further.
  • After you have completed the title screen, and have clicked save and continue the ISBN screen will come up next. This is where you pick to have a free ISBN assigned to your book. This is important to have if you want to sell your book. Even if you are not going to sell your book, Create Space requires you to have an ISBN.
  • Click on the free ISBN option and click the option to continue. Next you will be shown the ISBN that has been assigned to our book. Click continue again.
  • Here you have the options for the inside of your book, as well as the size. If you want to save money you can have the book printed in black and white. This will also cause any photographs you have to be printed in black and white. I tend to choose full color because I like to see the family reunion other pictures in color. The white paper is the best for this, if you would like more of a vintage look the cream colored paper is a great option. The best size I have found for these books is 7″ x 10″. Click on the choose a different size option and find your desired dimensions.
  • After this, below these options is where you will upload your book. Now remember we have picked a different size, so we need to format our book in Microsoft Word or Open Office. This is easy to do and can be done in the layout option found in the tool bar at the top. In the layout option you will go to paper size options, found near margin options, and pick the desired dimensions. This will automatically convert the document to the desired size for printing. Save the document, and go back to Create Space.
  • Now you will click on the option to upload your book file. Click on browse and find your file name. Usually most files of this nature are saved under documents. Once you have selected your file, scroll down and click on the save button.
  • This will now start the automated print check, which will take a few minutes.
  • The automated print check is looking for any issues it might see digitally inside your book. Many times these errors are negligible, and are hardly noticeable to the naked eye.
  • To make sure you want to launch the interior review of the book. That button can be found at the bottom of print check screen when it has finished reloading. Review the inside of your book. If you see any changes that need to be made you will have to go back into Microsoft Word or Open Office to fix them. Remember to save any changes you make. If you make changes you will need to upload the new file.
  • After you have review the interior of your book you will close the print check screen. You can find the close option on the top right of the screen in tiny white letters.
  • If you have made changes now is when you would upload a new file. The option can be found to the left of the interior review button.
  • If you did not make changes because you did not see an issue, you can press the ignore and continue option.
  • This will bring you to the cover design screen. You can pick glossy or matte. I prefer glossy. Next, if you want to design your cover yourself, you would click the build your cover online option and click launch cover creator.
  • Here you will pick through one of five pages of cover options. Trying to fully format your own cover is hard, and something I do not recommend. There are many variables that the program looks at, and even the smallest of things can make the program reject your cover.
  • Once you pick the cover design you like, the cover creator will finish generating.
  • One the left side is the tool bar, and it is the easiest way to navigate the editing of your cover.
  • The first option is Themes, which is what we just picked, so you would just click on next.
  • That brings you to Title. Here you can edit the title of your book, and see how it would appear. Once it is to your liking click next.
  • After the Title option we have the Subtitle option. This is where you can list the dates the book covers. Such as 1721 – present, or 1522-1912. Once you have selected your subtitle click next. If you do not have a subtitle, you can skip this option by clicking next.
  • Now you can edit the author name. It is generally best to use your first and last name, or your first initial and last name. Once you have decided on how you want your name to appear click next.
  • After author name we have image options for the front cover. Here you can use a photo of yours, or you can use a stock photo off of google. If you are looking for a stock photo some easy search terms are: stock photos pioneers, stock photos civil war, etc. These search terms will bring up images that are not owned or under any type of copyright.
  • After picking your cover photo and clicking next, the program will bring you to the back cover, and give you the option of having the authors photo on the book. If you do not want to have your photo on the book simple uncheck the visible book at the top left corner.
  • Clicking next will bring you to the back cover text. You have the option of writing something or leaving the back cover blank.
  • There will also be options for a back cover quote, and sometimes there are options to move or remove some embellishments on the covers. There is also an option for a publisher logo on the back cover, to remove this you would do the same thing you did to remove the author photo on the back cover, uncheck the visible box on the left side.
  • Towards the end of all this we get to the option of cover color. Here you can customize your cover even further by picking your color, along with this there maybe options for “accent” colors after this, as well as an option for font colors.
  • When you are completely done designing your cover you will click on the submit cover button on the right side of the screen near the bottom.
  • If there are any issues with the cover the program will force you to go back and fix the issue. It make take a few tries, sometimes the program is very picky. But after 2 or 3 tries, if it is still having issues, the program may skip this step. The biggest reason why there can be a cover issue is because of the image you picked to use. There is an option to over ride the image standards, but remember this may result in a blurry image on the cover of your book. This doesn’t always happen, and have found that sometimes the program is overly picky.
  • Now follow the final steps to finish your cover and hit save at the end to finish your book. Now you will continue to the setup page. Here you will submit your book for review and receive an email, usually around 24 hours later, about what to do next. After you receive the email you can fix an issues the review has pointed out, or skip them, and leave the book as is. Now you can order a printed copy of your book as a proof, as well as any additional copies you would like for others. As the author is costs me $3.25 to order one of my books that reaches the max of 200 pages. The shipping starts at $3.59 and goes up from there.
  • You now have the option of also placing your book up for sale on amazon. If you choose this option Create Space will walk you through the process, your options and what price point you would like to set your book at.
  • You do also have the option of publishing your book digitally, and Create Space will walk you through how to do that.


The process for Lulu is a bit different, and is as follows.

  • At the Lulu website you will click on the sell option on the top.
  • This will bring you to your options page. Here you want to pick the type of cover you want for your book. Lulu gives you the option of paperback or hardcover. After you have picked your cover, scroll down and click on make book.
  • The next page the comes up will again have your cover options, as well as size options, and now shows you the price associated with each. The closest size option we have to the format we have covered the book to is going to be 6″x 9″. Be sure to pick a size option that has a green check on it if you intend to sell your book, as these sizes are allowed to be sold across online market places, including Amazon.
  • After you have picked your desired size you will scroll down and enter in how many pages you want your book to be. If you don’t know how many pages your Microsoft Office or Open Office document are you can quickly got back into Word or Open office and check the page count at the bottom of the screen.
  • On Lulu a black and white 6″ x 9″ – 100 page book is $3.25, a 500 page book is $11.25, and their max is 740 pages for $16.05. For color, a 100 page book is $5.75, a 500 page book is $23.75, and their max, 740 pages is $34.55.
  • After you have entered in the amount of pages need, click on make this book.
  • This will bring you to a page to set up an account or log in, sometimes the Lulu site times out. Once you log in or register you will be brought to the first screen in creating your book. Here you will name your book, as well as pick how you want your name to appear as the author. Once you have completed this step, click on save and continue.
  • Just like with Create Space, with Lulu you can get a free ISBN, the steps for this are very similar to Create Space. Click on the free ISBN option and hit save and continue. The next screen will show you your ISBN as well as your bar code and give you the option to download it.
  • Now you will upload your book file just as you did on Create Space. Once it’s uploaded at the bottom on the right you will click on make print-ready file.
  • Now it will upload your files and review them. If there are any modifications that were made the program will tell you. You have the option of downloading the modified file and reviewing the changes. If you don’t like the modifications you can make changes in Word or Open Office and re-upload the file. You will have to use the back button on the bottom to go back to the upload screen to upload your new file.
  • If you are fine with what you see, hit save and continue.
  • This will bring you to Lulu’s cover designer. At the top is your tool bar which helps you to pick your themes and format. This cover designer is far less involved and in some ways easier to navigate. Once you have the cover designed how you like, on the bottom right press the preview and make print ready cover option. If the program see’s an issues with the cover it will alert you. You can fix the issues, or ignore and move on. If you are fine with what you see click make print ready cover on the bottom right of the screen.
  • Now you will be brought to a screen that allows you to download and see your cover and interior. I recommended viewing it, and making any changes as needed. If no changes are needed hit save and continue.
  • Now Lulu makes you describe your project. When filling out this form skip the second box on the copyright line, for license pick the first option, the standard license. After you have this filled out click on save and continue.
  • The last two steps are to set your price, set up any additional account info, preview and order copies.

In the end you should have something similar to this.


Happy Book Making!!