On The Charts
9/27/2009
Now that you've found part of your family tree, put it on paper for posterity. These chart-creation secrets and book-printing basics will let you share your family history findings in style.

Use a chart-printing service

If you don't plan to print many large charts, it might be more economical to use an outside service. Your local copy shop can print on large paper, but first you'll need to save your chart in a compatible file format. Using Generations' built-in EasyChart software, for example, create a chart, select Save Graphic File from the File menu and save the chart as either a bitmap file or enhanced metafile. Using Visual Chartform in either The Master Genealogist or Family Tree SuperTools, create a chart and select Export from the File menu to save as a bitmap or JPG file. Or in PAF Companion, display either a family, ancestry or descendant view on the screen, select Save Screen Image from the File menu and save the chart as a bitmap file.

If you're using a program that can't save a chart as a graphic file, you may be able to copy the chart and use another program to save it as a graphic file. In Family Tree Maker, display your chart on the screen and select Copy Tree from the Edit menu (or press Ctrl-C). Or in Genelines, select Copy Chart from the Edit menu. Then open Windows Paint (Start/Programs/Accessories/Paint), graphics software such as Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop Elements, or a page-layout program such as Microsoft Publisher 2002. Finally, paste the image in a new document (press Ctrl-V) and save it in a format such as JPG, TIFF or EPS.

A chart created with genealogy software can also be saved directly as an Encapsulated PostScript file (EPS). If you don't already have a PostScript laser printer, you can download a PostScript printer driver from www.adobe.com/products/postscript/main.html. Then create a chart and "print" it by selecting the new print driver and a custom paper size large enough for the chart. You'll be prompted for a file name and your chart will be saved as a file, but not actually printed. See Wholly Genes Software's helpful instructions for saving a chart as a PostScript file at store.yahoo.com/whollygenes/faq.html.

Once you've saved a copy of your chart, transfer the file to a diskette, CD-R or Zip disk for delivery to the copy shop. Some can even receive the file from you by e-mail.

Check with copy services in your area to see what file formats they can accept, the paper sizes they can print on and their prices. Kinko's, for example, can accept many formats, including EPS and most graphic files. All Kinko's can print in black and white on 3-foot-wide paper for 42 cents per square foot; larger stores can print in color on 3-foot-wide heavyweight photo paper for $8.50 per square foot. A 3x4 black-and-white chart costs just $5, while the same size in color would cost $102.

Several services, such as those described below, specialize in printing large family trees, and their prices are competitive with copy shops. Prices are usually lower if you design the chart yourself with your genealogy software, but higher if you submit a GEDCOM file or written information and have the service design the chart for you. Most of these services give substantial discounts on multiple copies of the same chart:

  • Chartform Delivery: This remarkably inexpensive service lets you design your own wall chart and have it printed on heavyweight glossy paper with a high-resolution color printer. Create your wall chart with almost any genealogy software, then e-mail your chart file to have it printed and shipped to you in a protective tube. Prices for charts with color images range from $19.95 for a 3-square-foot chart and $29.95 for 5x6 feet to $69.95 for a huge 3x30-foot version. Wholly Genes www.chartform.com, (877) 864-3264.
  • Family Tree Illustration: Just send in your handwritten or printed pedigree chart, along with scanned photos in JPG format, and this service will design your chart for you. You can select from Victorian, Art Deco and Celtic styles and even include your family tartan as a background image. Charts are printed on 11x17-inch parchment or glossy paper. Prices start at around $40 for three generations, $50 for four generations and $60 for five generations. genealogyillustration.com.
  • FamilyTrees.cc: Choose from standard charts such as the six-generation ancestor fan chart (16x16 inches, $45), the four-generation photo family tree (16x24 inches, $30 and up) or the exclusive six-generation "Family Immigrant Tree" (24x30 inches, $85). Or have one custom-designed up to 3x10 feet. Border options include Old Wood, Blue Floral, Rose and Ivy. You can submit a PAF or GEDCOM file or have data entered for $50 an hour. Photos cost $5 each, or $8 each if they need to be scanned. Olsongraphics www.familytrees.cc, (303) 759-4228.
  • Gen-Chart: Here you have three options for submitting your data: 1) Design your chart with genealogy software and submit the chart file. 2) Supply a GEDCOM file and they'll design the chart for you for an extra $25. 3) Submit written information on five generations and they'll enter the data for $50. Choose a 20x26-inch chart for $19.95 or a 26x36-inch chart for $29.95. CAD Integration www.genchart.com/company3g.htm, (800) 432-0724.
  • GeneagraphX: First, customize your chart by choosing a type, size and lettering, as well as box and border styles and line colors. Then send in your disk with a PAF backup file or GEDCOM file created with almost any other genealogy software. You can also include digital photos or have your pictures scanned for an extra fee. A 2x3-foot ancestor or descendant chart with pictures costs $65 and a 3-foot-wide descendant banner costs $8.50 per linear foot. Charts are printed on 24-lb. paper and banners on 20-lb. paper. www.geneagraphx.com.
  • Heirloom Family Tree: Once you've entered your family data in Ancestry.com's Online Family Tree, you're ready to design your family tree. Choose from 10 background designs, four forms of ancestral charts, three sizes up to 2x3 feet and four frame styles. $19.99. Ancestry.com shops.ancestry.com.
  • PrintMyFamily.com: Design your own chart with Generations, Family Tree Maker or The Master Genealogist or send in a GEDCOM file and photos for a standard chart (six-generation ancestor chart, six- or 10-generation fan chart or three-, four- or five-generation photo tree). Charts can be up to 52 inches on one side and as long as you want in the other direction. Your chart can be printed on satin photo paper or laminated. A 3x4-foot color chart with pictures costs $54. www.printmyfamily.com.

Contributing editor Rick Crume is the creator of the Genealogical Library Master Catalog www.onelibrary.com.

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