Using Ancestry Press, by Juliana Smith

Muriel Dyer APress--Pass. Arr. 1928-resize.bmpUnfortunately, I have to start this week by apologizing to those of you who did not receive last week’s newsletter. There was a problem with the mailing list. If you still haven’t seen it, it is available online in the Ancestry Library.  If you still haven’t received a newsletter via email, and are reading this online, please check your account preferences to make sure you’re still on our mailing list. (To do this, log in to using your membership or free registered user I.D. and password, and click on My Account. In the top right box, select Update your newsletter and marketing email preferences, then make sure the box for Weekly Journal is checked. If not, check it and scroll down to Update Preferences.) I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.

One last little piece of housekeeping. I’ve included some samples here on the blog from a book I created from one of my trees. It’s in the experimental stages, but I’m including a variety of examples of what you can do, and so you can see some of the tools and icons I am describing. I realize the images aren’t optimum size for reading, but if you click on the images it will enlarge them a bit. Now, let’s get started!

In last week’s column, I discussed how I have been working on tidying up my online tree at Ancestry, attaching records and photographs. This week we’re going to take a look at what we can do with the new Ancestry Press tool that was launched this week, using all those images that we loaded to our tree.

Getting Started
Beginning your book is easy. Go to the new Publish tab at Ancestry and click on the orange Get Started button. (You’ll want to disable any pop-up blockers you have enabled.) Next you can choose to either create a new book using templates, or to create one from scratch. Let’s walk through the steps of creating a new book using the templates. This will bring in all the records and images you’ve attached to your tree.

On the next screen, you’ll see a list of the trees you have posted at Ancestry. Select the tree you want, then the format of the pedigree chart, and finally the starting person for your book. Then click Continue. Ancestry will gather all the information from your tree and create pages based on what you have attached. When it finishes loading you’ll find pedigree charts, family group sheets, timelines, and pages for the records you have loaded. You can also create blank pages.

Let the Fun Begin
With your tree loaded, now the fun part begins–customizing your book. You’ll notice on the left side of the first page there is a menu bar with three buttons. The bottom button will be opened at first and through this button you can choose to view records and photos that you attached to anyone in that tree. It will default to your start person, but you can change views by typing in the name of someone else in the tree.

Dyer Family Group Sheet-AncestryPress

The button above it contains Embellishments that you can use in your book, and above that you’ll find Photos. Click on any button to open that selection, and then you can just click and drag whatever image or text you’ve selected to the page you’re working on.

Once you’ve started, you can add more images at any time by selecting Photos and then clicking the green button at the bottom of that section to Upload Images. Here you’ll select images from your hard drive and it will add them to the collection for that person.

Once you drag an image onto the page, you’ll see a menu bar appear above it with several icons surrounding the image. Just hover your cursor over an icon in the menu bar or on the image and a text box will appear that tells you what that icon does. Some of the icons are obvious, but I had to learn what some of them were with the hover. Let’s take a quick tour through them and see what we can do.

Dyer pedigree

The yellow squares on the top, bottom, and either side of the image are crop buttons. Move one towards the center to remove rough edges or unwanted borders. The lower right double-square resizes the image; drag and click the circle in the upper right corner to rotate the image.

Tools on the menu bar allow you to zoom in on an image, move the image, change the color from normal to black and white or sepia tone, add a border, invert the image, move the selected item to the front or back (for layering images), duplicate the selected item, or delete the selected item. When you make a change, Undo and Redo buttons also appear.

Above the page that is open is another menu bar and from here you can add, copy, or remove pages; choose a background; or add a text box to your page. You can also choose no background. If you are printing your own book, this would be an ink-saver, and you could choose to print it on paper with a background you like.

Tips and Ideas

Record enlargement. When you’re putting an entire census record on the page, it may be tough to read an ancestor’s entry because of the size of the image. You can duplicate the image, crop it so only an important part of the image shows and then enlarge it. Layer it over the original record and you’ll see the entire image in the background with the readable portion in the foreground. I also changed the tone of the background image to sepia, which makes the enlarged entry jump out at you more. Click through to the blog to see an image that uses this technique.

Custom timelines. A timeline is one of the pages automatically created for each ancestor. The timelines come pre-formatted with events chosen for around the era in which your ancestor lived. I wanted more relevant events, and more in keeping with important dates in that ancestor’s life. With a little tweaking, you can customize those events.

Muriel Dyer timeline

Each of the vertical lines corresponding to an event can be clicked on and then extended or shortened, and moved. Click on the line and you’ll see a yellow box appear at the bottom. Click and drag on the box to extend or shorten the line vertically. Or, while the box is showing, click on the line itself and move it to wherever you’d like it on the page.

I simply removed the lower vertical lines and then extended lines by dragging them (by the yellow box) down from key events in my ancestor’s life (e.g., birth, marriage, and death dates). Then I searched for historical events for those years that may have impacted their lives. For example, I realized my grandparents were married about a month after the 1929 stock market crash. I moved the old text boxes to the right of each line, then edited the text, removing the old item and typing in the date and the new event or factoid.

Realize you forgot to attach a record from Ancestry? If you find out after you’ve created the book that you are missing a record from Ancestry, you can save that image to your hard drive from the advanced viewer and then just add it like you would a photo.

Embellishments. There is some neat clip art under the embellishment button on the left of the Ancestry Press interface. There are quotes, labels, and page headers, as well as journaling strips and tags that can be used in conjunction with text boxes to create customized passages and tags. For the journaling strips and tags, just drag the embellishment to your page and then add a text box over it. You can even change the font and color of the text to complement the embellishment.

What Are Your Ideas?
This is really just the tip of the iceberg, and there are more improvements to come. Have you had a chance to experiment with Ancestry Press? If so, share some of your tips and ideas in the comments section here on the blog.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

    Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry newsletters for more than nine years and is author of The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book. She has written for Ancestry Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at [email protected], but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.

13 thoughts on “Using Ancestry Press, by Juliana Smith

  1. So … everything has to be uploaded to Ancestry to use this feature? Are trees, etc. disabled if there is a lapse in subscription or is this available for general use? Can one use other backgrounds and embelishments such as those from ScrapbookFlair? I’d “play” a little, but it looks pretty time-consuming for a dialup connection. Maybe later …

  2. If and when I upload my family tree to Ancestry Press, will it be “out there” for anyone to access? I feel my tree is not ready to put online at this time.

  3. You can choose whether you want your Ancestry Tree to remain private or whether you want to make it public. Once loaded to AncestryPress, the book/pages you create are private, although according to the AncestryPress FAQ,

    Part of the ongoing development plan for Ancestry Press includes the ability to both share and collaborate on a project. With the share feature you will be able to invite family and friends to view and purchase your book or even allow them to make a copy of your project that they can edit and purchase. Using collaboration, you will be able to assign family members or other researchers the right to view or edit the project.

    We’ll let you know when this feature becomes available. Check out the AncestryPress blog to learn more about this fun new tool.

    Hope this is helpful!

  4. It sounds wonderful, but in reading the information, it says it is not recommended for dial-up, which is what I have.

  5. I am most impressed by this website and lookforward each time I find it in the inbox of my computer. Keep up the good work. It is quite informative for beginners like me.

  6. I am also wondering what happens to a Ancestry family tree or Ancestry Press book that one has kept private, when the member’s subscription is not renewed? Will the data remain private indefinitely? Or does one have to remove the tree before leaving ancestry membership?

  7. I have tried to “Publish” my family tree. I get as far as naming the start person. When I try to click “continue”, nothing happens. I have turned off my pop-up blocker. What now?

  8. I just received an email by a Scott Sorensen who claims to be from ancestry- I was just wondering if he really works at ancestry or not- I was offered a free copy of the book that I created in ancestry press. thanks

  9. I am intrigued by this possibility of printing a book through the publish feature on I just wondered how much the final book would be to purchase?

  10. I have four trees on and am trying to make one tree using “Publish”.

    I have a tree for my Grandparent, a tree for my Mom & Dad, a tree for my husband & I, and a tree for my son & his wife.

    Is the program designed to do either ascendency or decendency? Should I start my tree with the youngest person or the oldest known person? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of both types?

    I am having problems naming my large tree because I don’t know who to start the tree with. Please help. Thanks

  11. I have trouble with the text box. Can anyone give tips on how
    tomove the text to be beneath pictures, to be paragraph size
    alongside of a picture, to position text beneath two pictures on one page. Thanks. JIm

  12. I am enjoying I’m not sure if anybody on this site can help, but I’m running into a problem. I accepted an ancestor and later realized this entry was incorrect. I want to delete this individual from my tree, but I don’t see a “delete this person” button anywhere. I’ve tried clicking on the individual and deleting, but still nothing. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

  13. I was visiting some family in Arkansas and looked through a book made by a distant cousin that I don not know personally. I was wanting to get a copy of the book she had created and I copied down the numbers on the back and this website. Is there a way to receive a copy of the book she put together?

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