Saturday, 22 October 2011

Putting Your Family History Together Using Publisher

A couple of years ago, I had the honour of putting together a family history for my friend. My friend's mom was getting on in years. My friend's grandad was a war hero. He fought in both world wars. The family had boxes and albums full of pictures. Enough to make any genealogist envious. But more importantly, grandpa's story was a story to be known by future generations. So, we put the story together. And we included photos.

When the book was finally finished and presented to my friend's mother, she was delighted. She read and re-read the book. She showed all of her friends, my friend's friends and anyone else who happened to stop by. We made copies for my friend's uncle, my friend and her brother. My friend's mom left strict instructions about whose copy was to get left to which grandchild! She said to me, "I can go anytime now. Not that I want to go, but when I do go, I can go in peace, knowing my mum and dad won't be forgotten" To this point she was the only person who really knew the story. She told the story when asked, but of course wasn't asked as often as she would have liked. Now the story was recorded for all time and was in a format that could be passed down through future generations.

Many of us who are Boomers and Zoomers have the same wish - to be remembered. For our family stories and traditions to be known by future generations. We no longer live with extended family, so younger generations don't hear the oral histories. Often we live in different cities, or even on different continents. But we want to feel that connectedness and we want our offspring and their offspring to feel that they are a part of us. Putting together a family history is a great way to share these stories and to preserve them for future generations.

While it all may seem daunting, it really is easier than you think. This afternoon at our fall workshop, we looked at "how-to" put your family history together using Publisher. Publisher is part of the Microsoft Office series. In the older series, it is included in the package. In 2007, it needs to be purchased separately. This can be expensive but worthwhile. It really is very easy to use.

To start:
Open Publisher

On the left, there is a column. Choose "Blank Publication" A blank publication will appear and on the left will be another column with options for decorating the page. Click out of that (the X at the top).

Add extra pages:

From the "Insert" box, choose "Page" You will then get another pop up box. You can add as many pages as you want. You can add them before or after the current page. You can always add more pages later. If you need to delete pages, you can do so by going to the "Edit" button and then selecting "delete page" from the drop down box.

To add a text box:

You can either use the drop down box under "Insert" or you can use the icon on the left side of the screen. The icon has an A in the corner with lines inside the rest of the box to simulate writing. Once this is clicked (either from the drop down box or from the icon) move your mouse to the top left corner of the page. A + will appear. Hold down the mouse and drag to make the text box the size that you want.

The cursor will be blinking back at the top of your text box and from there you just start to type.

To choose your font:

Choose from the toolbar at the top of the page. Both the font box and the size box are drop down boxes and you can choose from the lists. Most older eyes prefer rounded type like Arial or Verdana while Editors prefer Times New Roman (the standard default) or Courier. The normal size to read is 12.
To add pictures to your story:

Again, you can choose from the Insert drop down box or from the icon on the side toolbar. The icon has a mountain and sun and looks like a photograph. Choose "from file" to open up "My Pictures" or "My Documents" or, as we saw in the workshop, from a jump drive. Double click on the photo you want to add. To resize,

take your mouse to the corner of the photo and squeeze the picture diagonally to the other side. Hold your mouse down throughout this process. You may need to do this more than once, depending on the size of the picture. When you insert a photo into the text, the text will adjust to wrap around the photo.
You can crop photos so that you only get the part you want. When you click on the picture, another toolbar will appear:

This is an odd looking icon. Two Right angles interlocked. On this toolbar, you can also add a border to your photo by using the icon that looks like a paint jug spilled over with a paint brush beside it:

Then on the pop up box that appears, choose "Colors & Lines"

Next choose the colour and thickness that you want the border to be:
Once you use each of these tasks a couple of times, it will soon become second nature. Don't forget to save your story. You can move pages around if you think the story will flow better:

Simply hold your mouse over the page you want to move, then "lift" and move it by placing in on top of the position you want it to be in. Then release the mouse and the page will be seen in the new position.

As you go along, your favourite button will become the "Undo" button:

It is an arrow that is going counter clockwise. It undoes whatever it is you just did. So, if you add a picture you then change your mind, simply click on the undo button and the picture will disappear. If you move a picture or text box or trade one page for another, and want to move it back again, click the undo button and you will be back to where you were before your mistake.

Once you have your story written, print it out and edit from the hard copy. Make the changes you want until you are satisfied, then print a clean copy and take it to a printer (Staples, UPS or a local printer) and have copies run on a professional grade copier. The print centre can also bind the pages into a book for you. Staples can use a coil bind, add a dust cover front and back and make your book look very polished for less than $3 per book. If you want a more professional looking book with special binding, find yourself a top quality printer or self-publisher to have the book formatted. For the most part, the cerlox or coil bind from Staples will be all you really need.

Happy writing and publishing!!

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