Posted by Ancestry Team on October 12, 2007 in Website

Angela, I just figured out how to highlight Census records myself, and it was pretty easy. The page below shows a 1920 Census record that includes my great-grandparents and their children. I selected the Census record, which made the image editing toolbar appear, and then clicked the copy icon to create a copy of the record. I used the zoom icon (the little white cross) to zoom in on my relatives’ names until they were large enough to read, and then I used the drag icon (the pointy cross next to the zoom icon) to drag that section of the page up to the top of the window. Then I cropped out the rest of the names and changed the color of the new record to sepia (using the color menu on the toolbar). Finally, I put an embellishment right next to my grandpa’s name.

Click to enlarge image

To access the historical maps, select Photos & Maps on the Ancestry Search. You might also want to check out the Maps tab on the Ancestry Store. Many of the maps in this collection are also available through the Ancestry Search, but they’re a little easier to browse in the store. (The maps are in the store because we sell high-quality framed prints, but if you just need a small version, you can download the image from the store website for free — the resolution should be good enough to use in your book.) We recently added a collection of historical land ownership maps, which are available through the Ancestry Search.

In response to Jocelyn Miller’s comment, you can’t wrap text from page to page in AncestryPress, but you can create individual pages that include large blocks of text as well as images. The example below is a page from my family history book. It includes three separate text boxes: the text on the right side of the photo, the caption below the photo and the text on the bottom part of the page. AncestryPress isn’t really designed to accommodate lengthy narratives, but if you have the patience to build the pages one at a time, you can use it to publish a very professional looking memoir.

text page
Click to enlarge image

Regarding cost, you can build and edit your book and print pages at home for free. You can currently order a printed and bound copy of your book for a special introductory price of $29.95 (that’s the base price for a 24-page book — each additional page costs 39 cents).

I like Laurie Gilliard’s idea of making books dedicated to specific people in your family tree. You can actually do this already by designating your granddaughter — or anyone else in your tree — as the home person for the book. The timeline page automatically uses third person language (“Jane Doe was born on…”), but you can use the text editing tool to change it to first person and tweak the wording however you want. And you can create pages from scratch, so don’t limit yourself to the templates that are currently available. We don’t have a dedication page template yet, but you can easily create your own, as I did in the example below:

Click to enlarge image

We’ll cover many more tips and tricks in the webinar on November 1. In the meantime, please continue to post your questions and ideas. I plan to post a new column to this blog about once a week, and I’ll try to respond to as many comments as I can.

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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas

In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.


  1. Dianne Fleenor

    I was wondering if anyone has been able to figure out how to “center” an embelishment or photo on the page? It seems rather irritating to me that the tool bar floats with whatever is highlighted because it won’t allow me to see what I am doing or if it is centered. Can anyone help me on this?

  2. Pat Blanchard

    I’ve published two volumes now, with a lot of photos (embellishments), and I just eyeballed it as best I could. The end results were wonderful, so don’t be scared off. You can tweak as much as you like by holding down your left mouse button on the object and using your arrow keys to shift little bits at a time. Someone else posted that tip on an earlier site. Hope this helps you out.

  3. Pat Blanchard


    Thanks for the wonderful tips, including giving visual examples. I have one wish for the future. Although the professionally published books are really beautiful, financially they will be out of reach for a number of us; and although you can print the pages on your own computer, I found the results to be pretty poor in comparison to even the screen version. It was explained to me by technical support that it was because of the Flash Adobe interface. It would be nice to be able to actually download the file/book to our hard drives, so we can possibly print at home with better clarity. I don’t know if this is even possible or practical, but I thought I’d throw the idea out there. Don’t count this as any complaint … just a thought. Can hardly wait to sign up for the webinar!

  4. Ryan

    Help! I was working on my book and a pop up appeared saying “couldn’t save page. Try again later” so I clicked out and tried to save about five minutes later, and it froze up and I had to close the window.

    Now whenever I try to open up my book it just stops on “loading page” and doesn’t do anything else. I’ve tried opening it on different computers and have found the same result.

    Please help!

  5. Jack

    I’m having similar trouble as Ryan. First, I couldn’t view an individual page. Now, I can’t get the entire project to load. What gives? Is Ancestry working on this, becouse it’s highly frustrating to loose all that work. BTW, I can’t start a new project either. The press seems to be down.

  6. Ryan

    I’ve found a way to somewhat help things. If you go to “manage projects” and copy your book into a new file, you should be able to at least open it to page one.

    I right cliked my troublesome page, ironicly page 13, at the bottom of the screen and deleted it, but cannot save my work. So I’ve just left it open for now.

    Good luck, people who (hopefully) will try and fix it!

  7. I have a book with 56 pages, lots of photos and source records. At some point, on several pages, the source records dissapeared from the drag down bar and from the page itself even though the source records are still available in the family tree that the book is sourced from. I tried closing the book without saving it first and reopening it but the missing information was still gone.
    I have put many, many hours into building and tweaking this book and hope not to have to start over. I hope someone can help.

  8. Angela Gilmour

    Thank You so much for all the answers to my questions! I’m having so much fun doing this. Looking forward to learning more.

  9. Pat Blanchard

    Like a number of folks making comments here, I have also had problems with “freeze ups” and not being able to save on occasion. I guess it has to do with the Adobe Flash interface thing. I made sure I had the latest update (free) of Adobe Flash on my computer, and then I save my project after every page or after I have done something major to a page. That seems to help a lot and keeps me from losing finished work when things go wrong with the connection. Hopefully this problem can be fixed before lots of people jump on at the same time in the future to create their projects.

  10. Joycelyn Miller

    Oops. I put my question on the wrong one. Thanks for the help on the text. I am now trying to add events to my timelines. I have many events on the tree that are not translated to the timeline. How can I add lines to the timeline to add these events?

  11. Jeff Jahn

    In reply to Pat Blanchard

    Yes they maybe financially out of reach for some but right now they really have a create price when you compare with other photo type books out their. I started a project to see what it looks like and although its not based on family history per say it is based on the family. Basicly I am trying to create like a Year in Review for My family that I can give as gifts next year. I am sure some of my family would love a picture bound book as a gift inplace of other gifts.

  12. Jeff Jahn

    Just to add it would be nice to have a blog or website where people could add page examples of what their doing in AncestryPress.

  13. In response to Joycelyn’s question, you can just copy one of the existing lines and drag the new line wherever you want it on the page. The copy icon is the one with two little squares stacked on top of each other.

  14. Ryan

    I have a question. I have a family photo of my g.g. grandpa and his family on my page, and it looks fine on the computer and I test printed the page and it showed up with tons of lines on the picture, but the other pictures had none.

    If I order my book will the final product have those same lines?

  15. steve

    I have around 400 people in my family tree. every time i try to make a book it wont allow me. am i doing something wrong?


  16. Deanna

    Is there a possibility of getting any native american type embellishments or possibly templates?

    Deanna Ramirez

  17. Gin

    Seeing other people’s projects really inspires creativity. Will there be a special site where people can submit a sample of their favorite page or project?

  18. Chuck

    I have about 50 pages of material, including photos, already composed in Family Tree Maker. Can this be transported to Ancestry Press? How?

  19. Grace Nugent used to have a simple descendent print out. Is it still available? I’m not ready to print a book, I just want to check my records for duplicates and “orphans” caused during the learning curve of using the hints and then correcting for my mistakes. Is there a way to print a working copy of descendents and family group sheets?

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