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How To Use FamilySearch If You Really Prefer Paper To Electronics

How To Use FamilySearch If You Really Prefer Paper To Electronics

I'm mostly a paper person. I mean, don't get me wrong, the digital age is AMAZING, and the resources we have at our finger tips (specifically in reference to genealogy in this context) are truly amazing. But I have SUCH a hard time keeping everything straight in my head as I click back and forth between different records in FamilySearch (or Ancestry). What's the solution? Use paper too... but be smart about it.

I once tried to print our my entire family tree from FamilySearch in group sheets. I think it works for some people. I mean, I got the idea seeing ladies with gigantic binders of genealogy 4 generations at a time. But it didn't work for me... it wasn't visual enough to give me the full picture.

This time around committing to genealogy, I've done something a little different. First off, we have our custom family tree print hanging on the wall that I use to ground myself in the big picture.

custom family tree print for home

Then I use computer paper, or even better, a large piece of IKEA roll paper to map out the specific family whose genealogy I'm fleshing out, and work on that sheet of paper until it gets too crowded.  I make sure that I have all the information I've found recorded in both Ancestry and FamilySearch, take a picture of it and then stick it with my genealogy stuff. In theory, I'll keep it, but if anything happens to it, no harm, no foul.

For me, the big advantage of this paper system is I know where I'm at, and where I'm going, and I can easily track my progress and be thorough and methodical about it, without getting lost in the weeds. There are a million ways to do genealogy, but here's the paper outlining technique that works best for me:

  1. Decide what area of my genealogy I'd like to work on.
  2. Outline what I know (or think I know) in pencil on a sheet of paper. Normally I start from what's in my FamilySeach tree for this, and write names as well as birth, death and marriage dates. Make sure to leave plenty of room for adding new information!
  3. Start searching for sources using Ancestry and/or FamilySearch! When I source something I make note of it (I've got a color system using marker dots!) on the paper and then try to immediately add it to FamilySearch and link it on Ancestry. When I find new names or spouses, as long as they're sourced, I add them in pen, along with the appropriate marker dots.

Here's my current working sheet, hanging on the inside of our coat closet for safe keeping. I have it taped such that I can pull it off to work on it, and then mount it back up to keep it out of the way in our tiny student apartment!

family history paper outline

And here's a close up of the color system! I'm using purple to represent a marriage record, red to represent a death record and green for if I've entered the information I've found (in Ancestry) into FamilySearch!

close up of family history paper worksheet

What's your favorite system for organizing your genealogy work? I'm always looking to improve mine and would love your suggestions!

 

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Real Customer Question: Some charts have birth-death years and other don't. Do only certain templates display those dates?

Real Customer Question: Some charts have birth-death years and other don't. Do only certain templates display those dates?

We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when you ask us questions because we want to be sure you know exactly how to create a family tree that's perfect for your family. We figure if one person has a question, other's probably do too so we like to share our fleshed out answers with everyone in the hopes this may help someone in the future. Today's real customer question is:

Q: Some charts have birth-death years and others don't. Do only certain templates display those dates?

A: Nope! 

You can display dates for any generation on any chart you'd like. Here's a little tutorial on how to do that, but the short version is once you've chosen your template and are editing it in, you'll want to click Advanced > Generation > Choose an option "W/ Date" from the "Information Displayed" drop-down.

Do you have any other lingering questions? Feel free to browse our tutorials, or shoot us an email to support@familytreeprints.com, and we'd love to help you out!

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Real Customer Question: Is it possible to list more than one first name in the bottom circle of the fan chart? My mother has three brothers and I think it would be nice to list all of them.

Real Customer Question: Is it possible to list more than one first name in the bottom circle of the fan chart? My mother has three brothers and I think it would be nice to list all of them.

Here at Family Tree Prints, we want you to be able to create a gorgeous family tree chart, exactly to your taste, so we love answering your questions! Since we realize that if someone asks a question, that probably means other people have the same one, we like to publish answers to fantastic questions here on the blog, so that everyone can benefit from the answers. Have a question of your own? Email us at support@familytreeprints.com!

Today's real customer question is...

Q: Is it possible to list more than one first name in the bottom circle of the fan chart? My mother has three brothers and I think it would be nice to list all of them.

A: Short answer... yes! 

This actually used to be a little trickier, but we recently pushed an update to make this easy peasy lemon squeezy. Just click on the center circle with your mouse and then make sure you're on the main "Chart" tab in the left sidebar. Under the "Name:" field, you should see a text box containing whatever information is currently displayed in the center circle. Now just type as many names as you'd like in the text box, uses space and returns as normal. Depending on how many names you're trying to include, you may need to adjust the size of your center generation, which you can also do from the main "Chart" tab, using the "Generation Width" slider bar.

tutorial image adding multiple names to circle center

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Beautiful Black Charts: How To Modify Three Family Tree Templates For The Ultimate Chart

Beautiful Black Charts: How To Modify Three Family Tree Templates For The Ultimate Chart

We've talked before about how gorgeous a little black chart can be, so we thought it only fitting today to showcase three charts that are riveting in black: a black circle chart, a black fan pedigree chart and a black bedazzled bug family tree template for kids! There's something about black and white that's just... classy and classic. And they're by far the most often used templates on our store, so we know you'll love them.

First off, the black fan chart. To make this variation, we started with the Clean Blackboard fan chart template and then performed just a few minor alterations.

black fan chart

Alteration #1: We hid the center circle (a.k.a. changed its background color to white via clicking on the center circle of the actual chart and then Advanced > Color>Background Color>Chose White)

Alteration #2: Added a text decal. For more specifics on how to do that, view our text decal tutorial here.

Next up... the black circle chart. This one started as our Clean Blackboard circle family tree template.

black circle template

Alteration #1: Modified the shape from a horizontal to a vertical circle (thus unhiding the first generation!) For a tutorial on how to change the shape, go here.

Last, but certainly not least is this adorable black bug chart. This one we started from our Lady Bug family tree template for kids and then went to town!

black bug family tree chart

Alteration #1: We changed the palette to black. There's a full tutorial on how to change colors here that you may want to reference, but the gist of it is once you're in the editor choose Advanced > Palette > Click the black swatch under the Solid Color heading > Click the thumbnail preview of the bug chart in black.

Alteration #2: We added color bands to the outside of each generation. To do this click on the individual cell you'd like to alter, then choose Advanced > Color > Click the color swatch under the heading Band Color > Choose what color you'd like your band to be. Then repeat for each individual cell. Once you've chosen a color once it will show up as a color swatch in your color picker to make it easier for you.

Alteration #3: We modified the line color to be a gorgeous purple tone. Again, you can reference this tutorial on color changes, but basically, you'll just want to stay in that same Color panel you've been working in and use the color picker under the heading Line Color to update it.

Alteration #4: We modified some of the text colors to give it a little extra pop. To do this, stay on that same Advanced > Color panel and just choose a color using the color picker under the Text Color heading. Again, this is cell by cell. To move to a new cell, just click on it in the chart.

Now you can make each and every one of these gorgeous black charts for yourself. If you're thinking about it, you should do it TODAY and take full advantage of our Black Friday Deal : 30% off your full order with code BLACKFRIDAY!

Coupon is valid through Saturday, November 25 at midnight PST.

 

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How To Make A Family Tree: DIY Rainbow Family Tree Chart

How To Make A Family Tree: DIY Rainbow Family Tree Chart

There are lots of DIYs these days, but did you know you can DIY within our family tree maker? That's right; the templates are just a starting point for the creative mind, although they also look fabulous without tweaking. So there's something for everyone.

A month or so ago, someone asked if we had a rainbow template since her daughter LOVES rainbows. While we don't have a template for that (yet!) for now you can DIY one and it looks absolutely fabulous! You can watch the making of the chart below in 5 minutes, but (full disclosure here) I did speed some parts up, so the entire process took me about 20 minutes, including some final tweaking I did before finalizing the chart as shown above. If you want a chart EXACTLY like this here are all the details.

BAND COLORS
Red: HEX FF6767
Orange: HEX FCB900
Yellow: HEX FCE770
Green: HEX 95D847
Blue: HEX 0693E3
Purple: HEX C371FF

CHART FONT: White

CENTER FONT: Black

LINE COLOR: White

LINE WIDTH: 10

To create the family tree print...

1) Start with any 7 generation fan chart.

2) Cell by cell go through and change the background color and the font color. To do that, just click on the Individual Tab in the left sidebar, and then click the color swatch under Background Color and Text Color respectively. Once you've selected those colors, click into the next cell in your chart you'd like to change and do the same thing again.

3) Once you've colored all 6 color bands, make sure the center circle has a white background, and you can play with the radius of that circle to broaden the rainbow arc on the Generation Tab (select First Generation from the drop down).

4) Final touches include changing the font size for each generation as desired to maximize readability (on the Generation Tab), changing to whatever font you'd like to use (on the Chart Tab--I used Montserrat!), and adjusting Line Width (on the Chart Tab)! Now your family tree print is complete!

This post is part of our Art With The Chart series. To view more creative ways to personalize your chart, click here or to view more tutorials, visit our Tutorial Help Center!

 

Let us know how your DIY Rainbow turned out in the comments below! Can you think of another clever DIY idea using a fan chart? 

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3 Reasons to Use a Pedigree Chart Maker

3 Reasons to Use a Pedigree Chart Maker

Why bother using an online family tree maker? Mostly because it's no bother at all, only a lot of fun, but here are our top three reasons why!

1. It's faster than hand-writing on a paper chart (and easier to correct mistakes).

This is the way it used to be done. It's how my mom created her gorgeous genealogy wall chart 15 years ago (as well as one for her mother-in-law!) By hand. The final product? A wonderful heirloom. The process? Painstaking. And if you make a mistake there's very little you can do about it. By using a family tree maker online (like Family Tree Prints!) you can pull in up to 10 generations of genealogy in just a few minutes using one of our integrations, format to perfection and then click order. Want to make one for your mother-in-law? Just change who's at the center of your chart, click order again, and voila. It only took you 3 minutes to create a gorgeous and meaningful gift they'll appreciate forever. #timesavingwin

personalized whale family tree template for kids

2. You can personalize to your heart's content.

There are lots of family tree templates online you can buy and either print off and handwrite; add the names yourself manually using Adobe Photoshop or an equivalent tool; or pay the vendor to add the names for you after you fill out an Excel sheet with all your genealogy. But what if you like the idea of this template a lot, but you wish they had it in blue?

Note: If you'd prefer to fill out an Excel sheet and have us add the names for you, we'll do that too! Just visit our Etsy store.

Using Family Tree Prints you can start from any of our templates but they're just a starting point. From there you can change the shape of the chart, the color palette, the line thickness, the font, etc until you have something that perfectly matches your personality, family history, and home decor. What if your style changes in 5 years and the chart you picked no longer matches? Either move it to another room or just create a new one--you can do it in just a few minutes!

3. It makes creating your own genealogy wall chart completely unintimidating.

Anything you can do in under 3 minutes can't be that intimidating, right? Creating a genealogy wall chart used to require either copious amounts of time (to do it yourself) or copious amounts of money (to pay someone else to do it for you). Now, you can do it yourself, saving time and money, and still end up with a beautifully professional product? Get stuck with the process? Check out our tutorial help center!

 

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How To Use Our Family Tree Maker Online: 101

How To Use Our Family Tree Maker Online: 101

You're probably familiar with the concept of a pedigree chart and how it works--if not, read this post on how to fill in a family tree. What you may be more unfamiliar with, however, is how our family tree maker works online. The good news is, it's easy, and we're here to help!

The first question to ask yourself is what you'd like your chart to look like aesthetically. We've got A BUNCH of templates to choose as your starting point, including more classic black and white family tree templates, bold and colorful family tree templates, some soft neutral templates and, of course, animal family tree templates designed specifically with children in mind! View all templates here.

family tree template

The second question to ask yourself is how you'd like to get your personal genealogy names into our family tree maker. You have a couple options:

  1. Importing the names directly from FamilySearch. We HIGHLY recommend this avenue if you have a FamilySearch account. If you want yourself, your spouse, or your children to be at the center of your family tree you can simply choose who'd you'd like from a drop-down menu or you can choose ANYONE to be the center of your chart using their FamilySearch ID. Easy peasy. View a tutorial here.
  2. Importing the names from a GEDCOM file. Just as easy as #1, although not quite as common. You'll be able to choose ANYONE in the entire GEDCOM file to be the center of your chart. View a tutorial here.
  3. Typing in the names manually. This is more time consuming that #1 and #2, but definitely doable--after only creating a couple charts manually I can do a six generation chart in about 30 minutes. View a tutorial here.

Note: You don't have to be a member of the LDS church to have a FamilySearch account--they're available free to anyone who would like one. You'll want to select that you're not a member when that option comes up in the sign-up flow so that you don't have to put in a membership number (which you won't have!) and you'll have access to all the same data except for information relating to LDS temple ordinances.

tutorial help center

The third thing you'll want to know is how to make minor edits to your chart. For that, we'd recommend heading on over to our Tutorial Help Center where you can learn how to do things like edit an individual cell, choose whether to display dates or not, make really long names fit, or add a text decal.

Once you've got your chart looking picture perfect using our family tree maker, it's time to order your chart and then you can print it anywhere you'd like.

 

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Breaking It Down: How To Fill In A Blank Family Tree

Breaking It Down: How To Fill In A Blank Family Tree

"Let's start at the very beginning, the very best place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C, when you sing you begin with Do, Re, Mi." - The Sound of Music

What is "the very beginning" when talking about how to make a family tree? It's your ancestors, and where they fit within the chart! So who goes where?! You can see an example of a generic family tree filled in above with you at the center. There are some basic guiding principles that make it easy to fill in a pedigree chart regardless of who you'd like to put at the center

Note: This is all taken care of for you automatically if you import via FamilySearch or GEDCOM file.

You can see an example of a generic family tree filled in above with you at the center. Here's an example for you if you're married (with or without children--without children, you can just put an & or "The Smiths" at the center, or hide it completely). There are some basic guiding principles that make it easy to fill in a pedigree chart regardless of who you'd like to put at the center.

example of family tree

example of family tree

It turns out, that you don't actually need a precise how-to guide for each and every scenario, however, if you follow these three basic guiding principles:

  1. Start from the center. It gets REALLY confusing if you start with the great-grandpa and try to work inward. (We do not support descendancy charts, only ancestry charts!) To start with, choose who you'd like to be the center of your pedigree chart and put their name there.
  2. By convention, men are on the left (or the top in a circular chart!) This doesn't matter for the center of your chart, but it will for every other generation, so keep it in mind as we move to guiding principle #3.
  3. The next step out is always the previous generations' parents. Work out from the center, putting the father of the previous cell in the left spot, and the mother of the previous cell in the right spot.

Want it broken down a little further? Our Etsy listings offer the option of filling out your genealogy in this step-by-step Excel sheet and having us move your names to the actual chart for you. The Excel sheet also includes these great reference charts to show you where you are on the chart itself.

fill in the blank family history chart fan

fill in the blank family history chart circle

Ready to get started? The next step is to choose your starting family tree template!

 

 

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Real Customer Question: Do you somehow transfer the info of the family tree that has already been done to your prints or do you type in the names?

Real Customer Question: Do you somehow transfer the info of the family tree that has already been done to your prints or do you type in the names?

We figure if one person has a question, others probably do too, and we want to help you know how to make a family tree, exactly how you'd like! Today's real customer question is:

Q: "Do you somehow transfer the info of the family tree that has already been done to your prints or do you type in the names?"

A: The short answer is Yes.

If you have a FamilySearch account and your genealogy is stored there, you can use our FamilySearch import function to pull in up to 10 generations of genealogy within a couple of minutes. As a note, this will pull in your information EXACTLY as it is in FamilySearch (typos and multiple name options and all!) so you'll want to do a quick spot check to make sure everything is as you'd like it to be displayed in your final printed chart. We have yet to see a chart that didn't need at least one quick manual fix.

Note: The most common manual fix you'll need it making a long name fit. Here are some tips to fix it!

If you don't have a FamilySearch account, but you do have a GEDCOM file, you can also use that to create your family tree print without having to type each and every name by using our GEDCOM import function. Again, you'll probably still need to do a few manual fixes!

It's also an option to type the names in yourself (we call this "Manual Entry"), and as long as you have all the information gathered beforehand, it's not too slow. A five generation chart takes us about half an hour to enter all in manually (including dates!) and then goes up from there.

....

Want to check out some more tutorials? Visit our tutorial help center!

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How To Make a Family Tree In 3 Easy Steps

How To Make a Family Tree In 3 Easy Steps

Create a custom family tree used to be time-consuming. And intimidating. And... Well, it doesn't matter how it used to be. Now, using our family tree maker app creating a custom family tree chart is fun, easy, and fast. To borrow a common expression, it's a simple as 1-2-3. Here's how to make a family tree in 3 easy steps.

Step 1. Choose a template you'd like to start from.

You can browse all the available templates here. Templates vary by shape (fan charts, circle charts, animal shaped charts designed with kids in mind, etc.), color palatte (classic black and white, subtle nature hues, bright and bold, etc.) and number of generations displayed (anywhere from 3-10, just select this once you've chosen a template shape+color combo!)

Step 2. Import your names in minutes

If you have a FamilySearch account or GEDCOM file with your genealogy, this is where the MAJOR time savings comes in, since you can import up to 10 generations of genealogy from either source in just minutes. (That's way faster than manually entering 2047 names... not that you'd do that anyway.) For more in-depth instructions on how to import your names from FamilySearch of a GEDCOM file see below. If you want manually enter your names, that works too, and it's honestly not too bad either. Entering 5 generations typically takes one of us about 30 minutes.

import from FamilySearch import from GEDCOM

 

Step 3. Check and download

Once you have all of your names entered, all that's left is a quick check to make sure everything is picture perfect and then download your chart!

The biggest thing to watch out for is names that are too long for the size cell they are in. Here are some tips for making extra long names fit and look great. If you want to make any other adjustments (color, font, etc.) and need a little guidance, visit our tutorial help center!

tutorial help center

And there you have it--how to make a family tree in three easy steps. Ready to try it for yourself? Start browsing our templates here.

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