Instructions for Creating Your Own
“My Family Book”
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
How to create you’re own “My Family Book”.
A Family Book is the perfect place to showcase and protect your precious family
photos, heirlooms, and memories, they are a wonderful way to document your family's
history and create a lasting gift for future generations.
Traditional scrap booking versus digital scrap booking, they are essentially the same
except traditionally you must have everything physically there to put together and
create your book. Digitally you can collect freebies online, turn your own items or
clipart images into digital scrap booking embellishments. The files you create can be
used with other programs to create slideshows, use as desktop images, or to print
multiple My Family Book scrapbooks to give as gifts. See my instructions for
Of course there is no right or wrong way to do this but having a checklist will help. It is
a good idea to get other family members involved to split the work and share the joy
especially with the family cookbook and memorial pages. Once you get your book the
way you want it you just make copies and share with your loved ones. I absolutely love
my family book; I use it often for recipes but find myself just browsing through the
family pages because I love them so much
Gather information if anyone in your family has done or even started a family tree,
scrapbook, or cookbook these are time savers and the perfect place to start. Talk to
others in your family to get as many old family recipes, and stories as possible. Start
with older relatives first, they will not be around forever, they know more about your
parents, aunts, and uncles as children and because they are a wonderful resource of
wisdom and knowledge. Some family information you can just copy and some of it you
might want to put into the template pages. Family mementos such as birth and
marriage certificates, report cards, old letters, family recipes, clothing items, and a lock
of hair can also add interest to a family history scrapbook. Smaller items can be
incorporated into a family heritage scrapbook by placing them in clear, self-adhesive,
acid-free memorabilia pockets. Larger heirlooms such as a pocket watch, wedding
dress, or family quilt can also be included by photocopying or scanning them, and
using the copies in your family heritage album.
Gather photographs as many as possible, from boxes, attics, old albums, and
relatives. Look for great old photos with or without people in them. Pictures of old
houses, automobiles, and towns are great for adding interest to a page. You also have
the option to have pictures made from slides and old home movies at a relatively low
cost at your local photo store
You can scan small objects like a favorite toy, or personal item and save as an image.
Just lay it on the scanner and leave the lid open the background will be black making it
easier to cut out with the gimp and save as a png file to use as an embellishment. You
could turn a child’s favorite toy or your grandma’s heirloom silver brush into a clipart
file to use on scrap book page. Again there is no right or wrong because what makes
you feel good inside will more than likely make your family members feel the same way.
Decide on the chapters of your book. Create a tentative “Table of Contents” to
use as your inspiration and your checklist. Don’t worry about specifics you will
probably have to change this as you go to accommodate your project. I basically split
mine into two parts the family pages and the cookbooks. These are the chapters I used
in my book are Family: Genealogy pages, memorials, words of wisdom. Cookbooks:
Idaho 2006, Texas 2005, Texas 2006.
This year I plan on adding family stories, memorials, and a page for each of my
grandchildren and I will add one every year.
Start creating pages. If you are a newcomer to word processing and writing in
general you may want to check out the Microsoft help files for the basics of opening
and saving files, adding pages, clicking edit and then undo to erase mistakes and that
sort of thing. Open your new document and name it for easy saving throughout the
process. Save often you will not regret it. Start creating family pages as far back as you
have information and add sections for memorials for family members passed, maybe a
section specifically for veterans. Special recipes from family members are a wonderful
thing to pass down to your children.
As you begin to accumulate photos and materials, work to organize and protect them
by sorting them in archival safe photo files and boxes. Use labeled file dividers to help
you divide the photos into groups - by person, family, time-period, life-stages, or other
theme. This will help make it easy to find a specific item as you work, while also
protecting the items which don't make it into the scrapbook. As you work, use a photo-
safe pen or pencil to write details of each photo on the back, including the people's
names, the event, the location and the date the photo was taken. Then, once your
photos are organized, store them in a dark, cool, dry location, keeping in mind that it's
best to store photos standing upright.
Assemble Your Supplies
Digital Scrap Booking
Gather everything you want to use in your book; personal documents can be scanned
and used in a page to share in all your books. There are beautiful papers, and digital
elements for scrap booking offered free online. You can sign up at one site and follow
links to 10 to 15 coordinating mini kits giving you plenty of background papers and
buttons, bows, and other assorted extras to put together with your personal documents,
pictures, or other items you want to scan and include in your pages. Scanning and
organizing on the computer in a word document will allow you to print your books as
you need them.
After gathering the photos and memorabilia for your family heritage scrapbook, its
finally time for the fun part - to sit down and create the pages. The basic steps for
creating a scrapbook page include:
Select Your Photos - Begin your page by choosing a number of photos for your page
which relate to a single theme - e.g. Great-grandma's wedding. For a single album page
layout, select 3-5 photos. For a two page spread, select between 5-7 photos. When you
have the option, use only the best photos for your family heritage album - photos which
are clear, focused, and best help to tell the "story." If a photo that you wish to use in
your album is torn, scratched, or faded, consider scanning in the photo and using a
graphic editing program to repair the cracks and clean up the image. The restored
image can then be printed and used for your family heritage album.
Choose You’re Colors - Select 2 or 3 colors to complement your photos. One of
these may serve as a background or base page, and the others for matting photos. A
variety of papers, including patterns and textures, are available which can serve as
beautiful backgrounds and mats for family heritage scrapbooks. You can create your
own background papers by photocopying precious family heirlooms (such as a bit of
lace from your grandmother's wedding dress). If using patterned paper or a
photocopied image for the background, then it is usually best to mat photos with plain
papers to help them stand out from the busy background.
Crop Photos – Scan family originals to use in a photo editing program to crop your
photos. I would never use an original to crop. You may want to keep background
images in some photos for historical reference, in some crop a specific person or item
in others. Cropping templates and cutters are available to help you crop your photos in
a variety of shapes. Decorative-edged scissors can also be used to trim printed photos
Mat Photos - A bit different than the traditional picture mat, matting means to glue a
photograph on a piece of paper (the mat) and then trim the paper close to the edges of
the photograph. This creates a decorative "frame" around the photo. Different
combinations of decorative-edged scissors and straight scissors can help provide
interest and help your photos "pop" from the pages. When including original
photographs in your scrapbook, it is always a good idea to attach them to your page
with photo corners rather than glue or other adhesive options in case you need to
remove them or make additional copies.
Arrange the Page - Begin by experimenting with possible layouts for your photos
and memorabilia. Arrange and rearrange until the layout satisfies you. Be sure to leave
room for titles, journaling, and embellishments. When you are happy with the layout
attach to the page using acid free adhesive or tape. Alternatively, use photo corners or a
corner slot punch. Always assume that memorabilia is acidic, rather than finding out
the hard way. Use a deacidification spray to deacidify book pages, newspaper clippings
and other papers, and enclose other memorabilia in acid-free sleeves.
Add Journaling - Personalize your page by writing down names, date, and place of
event, as well as memories or quotes from some of the people involved. Called
journaling, this is probably the most important step when creating a family heritage
scrapbook. For each photo or set of related photos, you should include who, when,
where, why, and what. When journaling, be sure to use a waterproof, fade resistant,
permanent, quick drying pen - preferably black as research has shown that black ink
best stands the test of time. Other colors can be used for adding decoration, or other
Add Embellishments - To complete your scrapbook layout and complement your
photos or documents, consider adding some stickers, die cuts, punch art, or stamped
images. Stickers add interest with very little work on your part, and help give your page
a polished look. Die Cuts are pre-cut shapes cut from cardstock, available in many sizes
and colors. Solid die-cuts also make great spots for journaling. Be sure to select die-cuts
made from acid-free and lignin-free paper. Punch Art, the process of using shaped craft
punches to cut various shapes from cardstock and them combining those shapes to
create completed works of art, is another easy way to add interest to your family
I use sheet protectors and a sturdy binder to put together my books. Kids love these
books and I wanted my grandchildren to know their family. I also included family
recipes and this is also kitchen friendly, I am going to have to split my book into a
family book and a family cook book because after this year it will continue to grow. I
plan on adding a few pages per family member per year so my children get into the
habit and hopefully carry it on for their children. I already have 4 children and 7
grandchildren so I foresee making quite a few pages every year.
Get creative and have some fun.
Helpful Free Programs:
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITING PROGRAMS
I use these programs to get photos ready to use in print projects and to create digital
scrapbook pages which I use as desktop pictures, slideshows, and in emails to loved
The Gimp is the best free photo editing program I have found. It is comparable to
Photoshop and has all the tools to challenge even advanced users but simple enough
that with a few short tutorials you can have a lot of fun editing and layering photos, add
some text and an embellishment or two and produce some beautiful digital scrap book
pages to use in your family heritage book. There are a few extra files you might want to
install including the tutorials and others for animation. You will see the options on the
install page. I am reasonably new to this program but have fallen love with it and find
new ways to use this program every day.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE GIMP
1. GO HERE TO GET THE GIMP FOR WINDOWS:
2. Read a few tutorials and learn how to “open as a layer” the images you will use to
create your page. I read the first two before starting and go back occasionally to
learn new things. There is a lot of helpful information on this page
http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/. There is a lot of help on this page. I
bookmarked it for quick reference.
3. When starting a new page I usually choose the 2550x3300 PPI that is an 8 ½ x 11
page I like it because it is big enough to use for my desktop picture and because
they fit into sheet protectors and into a regular binder.
4. Saving your images in the correct way is important, in the right format for the use
intended and in easy to find folders. I created a folder to save my unfinished
scrapbook pages in, I call it “in the works” and I save these in gimp’s xcf format to
be able to edit them later, single images I save in png to use as embellishments or
layers these are kept in a folder called “scraps” inside that they are sorted into
folders using the web site or the artist’s name they came from for easy reference,
and finished images in jpg format in a folder called “my scrapbook pages” to use
on my desktop, in slideshows, to print for family scrapbook pages, or email. To
save as a jpg image you must first flatten the image. Click on image at top of page
then scroll down to flatten image. Then save in whatever format and location you
5. To put text on your page go to filters at the top of the page, then select text at the
bottom of the list, then click on the pop out selection free type renderer. I had a
hard time finding this; you will have the choice of any font (style of text) you have
in your C:\WINDOWS\Fonts folder. If you haven’t added extra fonts to this
folder you might want to go to the sites that offer free fonts and choose some
decorative looking fonts for free and unzip them to this folder I keep my free font
zip files in a folder that I back up often in case I have to reformat my hard drive I
don’t have to find them again. I spent an entire rainy day browsing through and
choosing the ones I liked I reap the benefit every time I need some really pretty
text for a headline or cover page.
If you have a hard time learning “The Gimp” you might want to try FxFoto. Click below
to download a FREE copy of Triscape FxFoto photography software. The free
Standard Edition has an impressive array of features, including complete support for
importing, organizing, fixing, annotating, e-mailing and printing all of your digital
photos, all without charge. This is the complete application, though deluxe collage
features must be unlocked with an upgrade and creating movies in the Creative Media
Edition upgrade requires a small additional download. I do the advanced stuff with the
gimp program for free. I use this free version and it is great. It is the quickest and
easiest way to do basic editing of photos like cropping, cloning, and saving your image
in the png format. Saving in this format allows you to use your image with “The Gimp”
Picasa2 works just as well as FxFoto for basic cropping and will allow saving of the
black and white or sepia filters that FxFoto will not but it does not have the filters that
allow you to posterize, or turn your photo into a hand drawn looking graphic. Try them
both they are free! http://picasa.google.com/
*Here is a great tip!
Anything you can view you can on your screen you can make into an image
file to use or print as needed.
This is helpful if you use a trial version and it won’t let you print some
thing (like the filter effects in fxfoto) but it will allow you to view it on
screen. You can save it as an image file and print anyway.
1. While you are on that particular page or screen you press ctrl and
then print screen you will capture the screen. Move the cursor away
from the part you intend to crop for your image because when you
capture the screen you capture all of it and will need to crop the part
you want to keep such as the image or text in word.
2. Pull up your paint program from windows accessories and click on
edit and then paste at the top of the page this will pull the window in
as an image name and save it.
3. Open that image up in a photo editing program like fxfoto and crop
the image as needed to make it look good and remove the other parts
of the screen you captured. Saving in jpg or png format works well for
layering in the gimp program.
I use windows XP I hope it works for you if you have a different version of
Go here to get help and start your family cookbook.
DesktopCookbook enables you to:
- Add & modify your recipes
- Email recipe recommendations - share with friends and family
- Add our featured recipes with just a click
- Add a recipe sent you to by another member with just a click
- Search recipes based on Keyword, Category, Subcategory, or Equipment
- Rate & Review your recipes and featured public recipes
- Create, Save, & Email full menus w/ your favorites
- Keep your recipes private or feature some publicly
- Print your DesktopCookbook including custom cover, spine, and tabs
Ancestral Quest™ is an exciting Windows program that makes it possible for anyone
to do genealogy! It is easy-to-learn, fun to use and packed with powerful features. The
trial version works fine and does not expire you just cannot do some of the advanced
things but I used it to create and print personalized family trees for each member of my
family. If you click on a name from the name list it shows the family tree starting from
that person this is very cool.
Free graphics to enhance your pages:
I can not give or sell these; you must go to the sites and get your free copy
for your own noncommercial use. I recommend you make a new folder in my
pictures for the free borders, backgrounds, and graphic embellishments you will find to
use in your projects. Most sites give you permission to use for your own projects take
advantage and collect lots of graphics you can be more creative if you have lots of fun
things to include in your pages.
I have fallen in love with digital scrap booking and recommend these pages for finding
wonderful freebies to collect and use in your new projects.
The best mega kit for free comes from www.rakscraps.com sign up for their monthly
free kit. It is amazing!!!
This is a top rank page meaning they list all the best sites. A good starting page and
where I found some of my favorite spots including my top two favorites. Bookmark
your favorites because the list changes. http://www.digiscrapboutique.com/topsite/
My favorite digital scrap booking site is http://www.freedigitalscrapbooking.com/
there are wonderful freebies here digital elements, tutorials, and beautiful samples. I
have this bookmarked and visit frequently! A+++
Another really good one is Scrappy Pony Design. They have a long list of freebies lower
right hand of the page. Really cool stuff. I downloaded most of them and check back
often for new stuff. www.scrappyponyfreebies
Scrap Girls has a beautiful newsletter that has tons of wonderful information and a
freebie in every issue. See them at http://www.scrapgirls.com/
You can use any graphic and make the background transparent in the gimp. Open the
picture in the gimp, click on the choice at the top of the page “layer” choose
“transparency” then “add alpha channel” click to choose the select by color option, click
on the background color, click edit, click clear and the color will become transparent,
save it in the right format and to a folder you can find later to save new image.
I absolutely love this website for graphics; I use them on my own webpage and for
personal printing, they are one of the few sites that ok limited commercial use as long
as you give them the credit they so richly deserve. They also have adorable desktop
backgrounds I use them all the time. A+++ www.graphicgarden.com
Cute country clipart of small children and bears. http://www.cutecolors.com
For scrapbook pages or maybe recipe pages. See the food section.
The border I used on my bible inspired family genealogy pages was a free sample from
this page: http://www.diyawardcertificates.com/site_examples.asp .
The best memorial page frames I found were here, the page did not work but the
borders did. I tried to create the page on the website and email them to myself, but it
did not work so I copied the borders to my folder and used them my way. The webpage
author said items on page where not to be copied for commercial use but my book was
definitely personal use just like yours will be. http://www.last-
HOW TO USE THE FREE GRAPHICS
To use these just right click and save them to the folder you made for them or wherever
you can find them again. Pull up the document you want to add it to. Place your cursor
where you want to insert the graphic on the page or at the top of the page for borders.
Click on insert at the top of the screen, from the pop up menu choose picture, then
from the next pop up choose from file. Find the border or clipart of choice and click
on it to insert. Don’t panic if it doesn’t look like you expect, just right click on the
graphic and choose format picture. Set the size as desired, layout should be set at
behind text and centered this makes it easier to move or resize your picture. If you
have any problems or questions email me at
Custom Text or Word Art
You will find that you may want to create custom text or word art for your projects and
I have shared my tip for using Microsoft word and fxfoto to accomplish this so now I
want to share a great place to go to find the best fonts for free.
Another Good Tip!
Just like you did for your pictures and other elements create a folder in your
documents for the zip files you will download to get your free fonts. Go through the
pages and save whatever you like to this folder I saved a few hundred. Concentrate on
the fancy or themed ones because they will look good for large text and you already
have easy to read ones in word. After you collect all the ones you like close the browser
window and open up the folder you saved the free font zip files in. You should see all
the files on the right and on the left side an “extract all files” icon, click it and then click
next, you will see “extract the files to” and a place to type. Type in the bar
C:\WINDOWS\Fonts and then click next. This should unzip all the files into the
correct folder to use in Microsoft Word. I didn’t do this the first time and wasted a lot
of time. Plus this is a great folder to back up because if you crash your hard drive and
have to reformat this will save you doing this all over again to get them on your next
Free fonts at http://www.1001freefonts.com/index.html
Sheet protectors (Best deal OfficeMax $11.99 box of 200)
Plastic Binders, look for “Slant D” binders they are the best!!!
Paper (The cheapest place I know is Wal-Mart $2.97 for 500 sheets.)
I live Pocatello Idaho; I hope the supplies are comparably priced at your local stores.
What is a Slant D binder? See picture below.
This type of binder allows pages to stay flat and the cover folds over them.