Publishing Your Genealogy


The first step is to decide how you want to publish your data. Start by deciding whether you’ll publish a formatted genealogy or just make your data available to others. In the former case, you decide on the format and content; in the second case you select what data to publish and let others select what they want.

Publishing your GEDCOM

The second case was covered in our meeting of January 17, 2002 and please see that page on our Home Page for specific details but will be discussed here in the hopes some will publish their data for others. We all use the Internet to get data; it’s time to share what we have with others. Also consider that this is a great way to store your data in case your computer takes a nose-dive.

(See Cyndi’s list for a comprehensive tutorial on creating your Genealogical Web Page).

We can exclude all living people for privacy reasons and most places where you can publish your data will delete all personal data for living people. Check their policy if you are concerned. In FamilyTreeMaker you can also go to File, Preferences, Privatize to temporarily delete information on living people. This is also a good time to check into all of the other items under Preferences to make your book data have the look that you want.

Start by selecting the prime individual and the type of data. As an example, you can select yourself as the prime and select Ancestor Tree as the source of individuals to export; you can select one of your children and thus include your spouse’s family or select one of your parents or grandparents to insure no living people are included. You could submit a separate file for each of your grandparents. Or you can choose a family ancestor and submit the members of his/her Descendent Tree. That method, however provides a very limited database excluding most of your other ancestors. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is create a GEDCOM file. In FamilyTreeMaker, with the proper person and data type selected, go to File, Copy/Export Individuals...... and select GEDCOM in the box below and provide a name and select a location for the GEDCOM file.

Then you have to choose where you want to publish your GEDCOM file. There are several choices; the most obvious should be where you normally go on the Internet to get family data. But you can also take advantage of the free space offered by your Internet Service Provider and create your own home page as a repository for your data. You can also request free space from Rootsweb. Or you can take advantage of the World Connect data base used by Rootsweb and Ancestry. Choose one and locate the instructions for uploading your GEDCOM. You can choose how much of it you want others to be able to download.. Other places include sites dedicated to that surname such as “The Dill Family Reunion” or sites dedicated to the location where the family was prevalent. In some cases, such sites may request only a link to a site where your file resides; others may accept the GEDCOM and publish it.

Perhaps the easiest way to get a home page is to use either FTW or PAF to create a Home Page. Both allow you to select the individuals. PAF creates a Home Page on your hard drive that you have to export to an ISP. FTW creates a Home Page at so all of the heavy lifting is done for you. You can add pictures and even add your book to the FTW Home Page.

If you choose the “Do it yourself” route and want to publish your data on your own home page you’ll need a program that will create a searchable, indexed file from your GEDCOM and you’ll have to create a start or index page on which to introduce your family file. If there’s enough interest we’ll cover this next meeting. Note that AOL has a comprehensive publishing guide and most ISPs also provide detailed instructions on getting started. Also see Cyndi’s list for references.

 Publishing a Book

Again, you have to decide the focus of your book.. Will it be a person’s ancestors or a person’s descendants? Or all of the data you have on a given family including unrelated progenitors. If you’re going to self publish, follow the following steps. If you are having it published by others, you’ll need to know how they want their input but some or all of the following steps may also be appropriate.

In FamilyTreeMaker, select the subject individual and choose Genealogy Report. It will create a report in the last format that was selected. Click on Format and then Genealogy Report Format and then choose the report format that you want. For descendants you have two choices; Register or NGS Quarterly. It’s easy enough to format it both ways and choose what you like best. For an ancestor report there is only one format.

Once you have the format, click on Contents and then each of the three items listed. Under Title and Footnote choose the Title and how you want page numbers to show. Then choose Number of Generations to Show and choose a number high enough to include everyone. 20 will usually be enough but going too high won’t hurt. Then choose Options. I would opt for including all possible notes. It’s your choice whether you want sources listed in line or as endnotes or not at all (not recommended). For descendant reports you get to choose how to select the first generation.

The next step is to select Books, choose a title for your book and then choose any other material to include and also choose whether an index is desired. Find an item in the left pane that you want to include and click the Add button. Select them in the order you want them to appear but you can re-arrange them here or when you edit it later. Note that some of the items such as the trees may be very long. Whether you do all of this here or choose to do it in an editing process later is your choice. You can add the ultimate here and just cut it later if you find you don’t want it. You may find, for instance, that the Title Page generated here does not meet your needs and you can replace it later in the editing process. But the title page is the one page that can’t be removed at this point.

In PAF the process is similar. Go to File, Print Reports, and select the Books tab at the top right. Choose from among the options and select Preferences to set the output to your satisfaction.

If you’re happy with what you’ve done you have only to print it and bind it. Go to File and then Print Book. Note that neither FamilyTreeMaker nor PAF offers the option of back to back printing or of printing only odd or even pages but that option may exist with your printer. Further, FamilyTreeMaker uses the default printer and doesn’t give you a choice of printers. A better choice than just printing it “as is” is to select “Generic Text Printer” as your default printer and then click in the box “Print to File”. (If you don’t have the Generic Printer, go to Start, Control Panel and select Printers and then Add Printer. Select Generic Text Only as the printer to add. Win XP allows you to set “Print to File as a printer port and then you select Generic for the printer manufacturer and Generic Text Printer for the printer.) Select a location and name for the file and press Print. Now you have a file that you can edit in any wordprocessor. Step one when you bring the file into a wordprocessor is to change the font from Courier (ugly) to whatever you want. Then edit it to improve on the appearance. Blend the notes and facts in such a manner that they don’t just say “Fact 1 about John Smith”. Consider that you’ve used FamilyTreeMaker or PAF as a data source and now you’re going to make it flowing and elegant. If you’ll have this published by others, now is the time to consider their requirements and include them in the editing process. Also consider what type of introductory material that you want to add; an introduction, a preface, acknowledgments or any other material not contained in the body. You may also want to include an appendix or appendices to include pertinent material.

But you may find it more convenient to take the Genealogy Report that you’ve prepared in FamilyTreeMaker and Export it as an RTF file and use the book printing only to print a Table of Contents, Index or charts that you want to include. Be careful in editing not to change the location of items or you’ll need a new Table of Contents and Index. As an example, create a descendants book and include the Genealogy Report, Outline Descendant Tree, and Index. Since you’ll be using your edited Genealogy Report you don’t want to print that when you print the Outline descendant tree, the Title Page or the Index. When you go to FILE, PRINT BOOK, you can select one item to print. If that item extends over more than one page, you cannot print back to back but you can print these items to your Generic Text Only Printer and print to file. Print the whole book to file, open it in your word processor and save it as an RTF file. Then delete the Genealogy report and paste in your edited report. Edit it where necessary and then print all odd pages in reverse order and then the even pages on the back of the odds in normal order. BE CAREFUL!! One paper jam and page 6 goes on the back of page 3.

Here are a few places you can go on the Internet to get information on getting your book published.

Since Jim Peacock has published his genealogy, he volunteered to come and tell us what the real world of genealogical publishing is like.

(Details Later)