Friday, October 12, 2007

Create the Perfect Holiday Gift with Ancestry Press

Pretty soon, Christmas tree lights and candy canes will be showing up in every store window.

And while it can be a little annoying to see all that red and green before I’ve even put my cornucopia away, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting to plan the presents I’ll be giving.

This year, I think I’ve already found the perfect gift.

At the end of September, Ancestry finally launched Ancestry Press—it’s new book-making feature. I’ve been playing with the new product and I think it’s one of the most exciting things to come out of Ancestry in a long time. Finally, a way to show off—and share—all your hard work.

Ancestry Press allows you to pull a tree you’ve created online at Ancestry into book format. It automatically generates pedigree charts, family group sheets, historical records pages, and timelines. And, of course, you can insert blank pages for photos, stories, recipes, or whatever creative display you can invent.

I started my book with one of the family history book templates available (more will come out as the product progresses) and was very pleased. Right away there were beautiful pedigrees with family photos I had uploaded to my online tree, as well as records—census records, draft cards, and more.

All the pages in the book were viewable as thumbnails at the bottom of the page and it was easy to delete pages I didn’t like and add blank pages for more pictures and stories.

The photos were easily cropped, resized, and rotated. I could change fonts and sizes and add borders to text. And an embellishment feature allowed me to add flourishes and attractive text boxes. I could even add “journaling strips” to include brief notes or stories beside pictures.

Right now, there is only one book size—8.5 x 11”. It is professionally bound and the introductory price for printing a book of twenty-four pages is $39.95. Each additional page costs thirty-nine cents.

Over the next several years the options will expand quite a bit. There will be more page layouts, backgrounds, book sizes, and more.

The best way to get into Ancestry Press is just to jump right in and start experimenting. A brief demo on the site gives you an overview of the product, and I recommend watching it. View Demo by Clicking Here.

I would also make sure to have all the names and dates you want in your book added to your online tree before you import it into Ancestry Press. Even though you can import facts later from any of your trees, it’s easier to import it just one time. Otherwise, you have to rearrange the automatically generated charts to include the new information.

Don’t worry about having all the pictures you want in your book attached to your online tree, though. It’s easy to upload photos straight to Ancestry Press.

The hardest thing about Ancestry Press is knowing when to stop. Plan what you will and won’t include and set a reasonable goal—like having one or two pages per ancestor. If you don’t, you’ll be tempted to keep adding new pages and you might never finish.

A coworker of mine has already created a book in Ancestry Press, and when her mother saw it she was so excited she asked her to print one for each member of the family for Christmas.

So get started. Even if you only have fifteen minutes today, or even if your tree isn’t complete, import it and start playing around with the features. It will give you a good idea of what the product is like and what you need to do to get your tree ready to import.

It takes three to four weeks for an order to be processed and shipped, so make sure to factor that in if you’re planning on using your books as holiday gifts. These are presents turned heirlooms that your family will never forget.

Click Here for more information.

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