Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter File Names

The file size of your book can get very large when you have a lot of pictures in it. And when the file is huge it can slow down your computer a lot and make editing drag on and on. If you are struggling with this then consider splitting the book into chapter files where each chapter (or two) are individual files. While you are editing them you can call them whatever you want, but I have a suggestion for when you are ready to take the book to the publisher. By putting numbers at the beginning of the name of each file they will be sorted into the order of how they appear in the book.  Use two digits for the numbers (i.e.: 01Titlepage, 02Preface, 03 Chapter one, etc.) to keep the first nine chapters in order on the top of the list.

Chris Stevenson

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Person

When writing your personal history, I would suggest that you write it in first person. It will have the feel that you are telling your life stories to your children or grandchildren while they are sitting on your lap. It will help connect the reader to you in a very personal way. If fact, you can just grab a recorder and record some of your stories as you tell them to your children or grandchildren. Then listen to the recording to get a feel of how to write it like a captivating story (instead of dry facts). Give it a try!

Chris Stevenson

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Blogs have become so common and easy to use that about 50,000 are started each day. One great use of a blog is to share family stories and pictures. You can make a blog for each of your different family lines and then post information about each ancestor that has that last name or that belongs to that ancestral line. Wordpress and Blogspot are the two blog sites that are used the most, plus they are free. They have some great tutorials to help you get started and design your blog.

Here are a couple of blogs that I have made for two of my family lines. They are just an example of what you can do. I also have a private blog that just my immediate family can see where we share pictures and memories about when our children were growing up. (You can have your blog public so anyone can see it or private so only invited guests can see it.)

Go ahead and start a blog and see how it works. Experiment until you have it just the way you want and then you can make it public and tell your family about it. When it is public, other relatives can find it by searching for certain family names and will see what you have and could contact you and share information. It is a great way to share pictures and stories from your family.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Write the Whole Picture

It is easy for us to write the good things about our relatives when writing a family history. It is much more difficult to write about the bad things and the mistakes that they made. It is appropriate to be very careful when writing about someone’s flaws so we don’t go too far and become distasteful to our readers.

I think that Dawn Thurston explains it best, “When writing family history, it’s difficult to create a realistic picture of people long gone. Genealogy data reveals little about how people looked, moved, or talked, or what strengths and weaknesses shaped their lives. Then there’s family pride. Absent any evidence to the contrary, we tend to idealize our forebears. We want them to be exemplary rather than human. I suspect the image that exists in our mind’s eye bears little resemblance to how they actually were.”

I think that we do our readers a disservice by only telling the good. A brief mention of the mistakes and bad qualities of our ancestors makes them more real. So, be brave and write the whole picture of your ancestors, then before you have it published have someone else read it over and make sure that you have handled it tastefully. You will be glad that you did.

Chris Stevenson