Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lay Out a Book without Laying an Egg

Only one rule exists for laying out a book without laying an egg: consistency. If your readers are to navigate your book successfully, they will encounter no surprises. Preventing surprises requires that you make a number of decisions before you start writing your book.

Chapter Start
The type of book you are producing affects how and where a new chapter starts.

For multi-chapter book like an extensive family history, chapters start on an odd numbered page. This start isn't a hard and fast rule, but rather a custom...a custom your readers will have observed their whole reading life.

For a display book, like a coffee table book, which may also be multi-chapter, you might want to consider an even page start because you have both the even page chapter start plus the odd page to display a big splashly start for a chapter. For example, do you have a photograph or graphic to start each chapter? Do you want to start the chapter with a grapical family tree on the even page and actually strart writing on the odd number page?

For a smaller book--for example, a 20-page commerative book about one person or one family unit--you don't have to divide it into formal chapters. In this type of book you have only sections but no chapters.

Headers and Footers
Headers and footers are design elements that are intended to assist your reader with document navigation. When headers and footers are well done, a reader can pick up a book an thumb through it, and see chapter titles in the upper right of the page. They can literally thumb their way to Chapter 10: The Walter McKee Family because they can see it as the thumb through your book.

Even when a chapter starts on an even numbered page, you still want chapter divisions reflected in your headers.

For a smaller book, you may decided that you don't want the overhead of headers and footers...perhaps just a page number so that when you generate the table of contents and index.

Paper Size and Margins
With the development of PODs (print on demand) businesses, your ability to select paper sizes has expanded. If you would like to use a size other than the normal 8.5 x 11 inch paper, you can. Just be sure that the POD you are using can accommodate you.

Margins should be at least .5 inches. White space (any place where there is no text or graphics) makes a document look less crowded. I like one inch margins because they provide enough room for someone to make a notation in the margin (known as marginalia, aka notes, aka doodling).

Layout for this Exercise
For the purposes of this layout exercise, I'm going to produce a book with the following characteristics:
  • Margins = 1 inch with a .5 inch gutter (used for binding)
  • Orientation = Portrait (Landscape is used when you want a document that is wider than it it tall)
  • Pages = Mirrored Margins (I want my page numbers appearing on the outside edges of pages)
  • Paper = 8.5 x 11 inches (I want to be able to go to my local print shop and get it copied)
  • Chapter Start = Odd page (My chapters will always start on an odd page)
  • Header = I want an line at the bottom of my header with text above the line.
  • Footer = I want a line at the top of my footer with text below the line.
  • Chapter Start Header = No header because I want to use a chapter start graphic...decorative.
  • Chapter Start Footer = I want the same footer.
  • Page Number = I want them in footers on outside edges.
To set all of this up, we are going to use the Page Setup dialog on my next post.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


A template includes everything you need to produce a document except your personal text.

Stop and think about that definition for a moment. Every time you are in Word and you select FileNew, a dialog with Word's predefined templates appears. All you have to do is pick a template, replace the holder text with your personal text, and save the template as a document.

Oddles of Word templates exist. However, with all of those template, you still might not find one that suites your need. I frequently design my own templates to get exactly what I need. Designing a template is a skill, which means you can learn to design templates too.

Let's start with a template that many genealogists need--a book template. A book template includes:
  • a page layout
  • a set of defined styles that you plan to use
  • a set of working headers and footers
A template for a book is going to include all of the sections you will need to create your book:
  • a cover page
  • an inside cover page, which may or may not be blank
  • a title page
  • a publication page, which is the back side of the title page
  • a foreword, which is optional
  • a slip sheet for the back side of the foreword
  • a dedication page, which is optional
  • a slip sheet for the back side of the dedication
  • a table of contents, which is generated...add four pages (two fronts and two backs)
  • an introduction...add four pages (two fronts and two backs)
  • a chapter...add four pages (two fronts and two backs)
  • an appendix...add four pages (two fronts and two backs)
  • an index...add four pages (two front and two backs)
  • a back cover...add two pages (one front and one back)
If you include all of these sections, your template will be thirty pages long and you haven't written a word of your family history yet. You will also have working headers and footers with working page numbering (a big item). Your table of contents and index pages will be blank because you will not have generated them yet.

In my next post, we're going to open a word document, start at the title page, and work our way through the thirty page template. After you've done this once, you'll be able to do it on demand...a marketable skill. So bear with me. We have several posts to get to a completed template.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Styles, Numbers, and Bullets...Global Changes

Continuing on with creating or altering a style, which is a global change, the next selection on the Format drop-down list is Frame. The dialog addresses how text wraps around a graphic. I’m going to skip this particular dialog because it’s difficult for just about any level of user to get a good result from trying to text wrap around a graphic. Far too many things can go wrong. I’ve already given you the workaround; that is, use a table, which should suffice in most instances. See Tables Aren’t Just for Lists. It is by the way what is actually used in professional settings. Even the pros don’t want to fiddle around with text wrapping, which should be your first hint that it is a pain in the butt.


Following Frame is Numbering; that is, the numbering and bullet dialogs. Word provides numbering and bullet styles as part of its default list of every style it thinks you should ever need or want. See A Style forEvery Season to see how you display all of Word’s predefined styles. The reason you might want to visit these dialogs is to make a global change to the type of numbering (Arabic vs. Roman) or bullet (a big dot vs. a checkmark). 

Numbering can be used extensively in a family history to list members of families in birth order. My suggestion is that you generate your family history from your genealogy program and then copy and paste the numbered generational lists into your working family history.

Here’s why. Genealogy programs usually generate the text as Rich Text Format (RTF)—making it cross-platform interchangable. That means you can use it almost anywhere and not have it change when you plaste the text. Ifyou try to enter generational numbering on your own, getting the numbering to work automatically (and right!) can be a challenge. If you copy and paste the RTF versions of the generational lists, you get numbering that is text based and not automatic so it shouldn’t change automatically to follow the auto numbering built into Word…a real advantage!

In addition, when you copy text from an RTF document, it most likely will have the Normal style applied to it. You can build a style that is for these generational lists only so that you can match the font, font size, indent, etc. of your working document. When you apply the generational list sytle, your numbering is still treated as if it was plain text. You can apply Name character styles to the surnames in the list. You can delete the bits of text you don’t want or add bits that you do want. The point is that you can do anything you want with the numbered generational list once you get it into your working family history sans auto numbering.
Bullets are rarely seen within a family history. However, because of my business writing backgroud, I do use them when I’m writing. Bulletted lists are a way to present an unordered list.
For example, when my family began to systematically buy land centered on one roadway in Randolph County, Illinois, I used a bulletted list to present the acuqisitions. Each bullet contained land releated info (legal description), the date it was purchased, and by which of the McKee brothers it was purchased. I did put the acquisitions in the order of the date on which it was accquired; however, this arrangement was simply a way for me to see how their holdings grew.  I could have accomplished the same task by using titles; however, bullets made each accquisition stand out in running text in a different way than a title would.
Also, I’m not a direct enough descendant to use the McKee family coat of arms. However, if I were, you can bet I would turn one of the three bears that appear on it into a bullet (picture) to decorate my family history.  I suppose I could throw caution to the wind and be a crass American and do it anyway…custom be damned! If you decide to create your own bullet and you get lost, post to this blog and I’ll write more instructions.

Next we're going to start talking about creating templates.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Surpressing the Spell Checker with a Style

Enough of the PDF's time to get back to styles. We're about half way through what you can do with a style.

Remember that we are making global changes. When you make global changes, you access the dialogs by right-clicking a style in the Styles (or Styles and Formatting) pane to display a pop-up. Select the Modify option to display the Modify Styles dialog. You can then click the Format button for a list options. Tonight, we're going to look at the Language option.

You've seen this dialog before in the post about suppressing the spell checker. In most instances, you're going to accept the default language. The item of interest on this dialog is the Do not check spelling or grammar option.

Making a choice here is tricky but make the right choice and you have a helpful style.

If you are modifying a paragraph style--a style that you apply to an entire paragraph, do not select the Do not check spelling or grammar option, because every place that you apply the style will get skipped by the spell checker. Not a good thing unless you have supreme confidence in your spelling.

If you are modifying a character style--a style that you apply to a few characters like a family name or place name, you may want to consider selecting the Do not check spelling or grammar option. When you apply the style to an oddly spelled family name or place name, not only do you get the spiffy formatting built into the character style but you also automatically suppress the spell checker. If you're careful about the spelling of the family or place name, using this option as part of a character style is another way to avoid being annoyed by the spell checker getting hung up on these types of names.

We're almost through all of the global changes via Modify Style/Format selections. After we've gone through all of the global changes, we'll start looking at the local changes, which are frequently used to tweak text on a page mostly to make it fit on the page better.

So bear with me. We don't have far to go. After we look at local changes, we'll talk about building templates.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Toys...Save page as PDF

If you look down the right side of the page, you'll notice a new button:

Click it and you'll get a PDF of this blog page.

After you click the button, a secondary window pops up, your system whirs and spins for about a minute while it ponders your request, and then your PDF is available. Because of security on my system, I have to click a security bar to allow the display of the PDF dialog. After I click the bar, I have the option of opening or saving the PDF.

If you have a blog or website to which you'd like to add this button, visit Web2PDF at You sign up for free, enter the address for your blog or website, click a generate button, and Web2PDF generates the JavaScript you need. Copy the script into HTML/JavaScript gadget at your site and the button appears.

I don't plan on deleting anything I've posted to this blog. However, if you find something that I've posted that you want to save, this button should help you do that easily.

Joliprint...another PDF toy
If you visit the site, you can install their free add-on, which allows you to turn many of the pages you visit online into PDFs. I've been playing with this toy, and depending on the type of page I'm visiting, I'm frequently getting a lovely PDF that I can store or print.

If you get a message telling you that Joliprint can't be used on the current webpage, try displaying a subpage. For example, if you wanted a PDF of a post on this page, go into Labels area and pick the link for the topic you want; for example, pick Color to get a PDF of the post that explains the color dialogs. A smaller subpage appears with a post or a few posts. Picking a label gets you to the smaller subpages and it appears that Joliprint likes these smaller pages better because it works for me.

So have some fun trying these PDF toys.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Everyday Genealogy - Top 10 Posts of the Year

Everyday Genealogy: Everyday Genealogy - Top 10 Posts of the Year: "July 24th is the one year anniversary of the Everyday Genealogy Blog!!! This is the 116th blog posting - what was the most popular posting..."

Frame Up Part Three…Adding Color

One of the things I breezed by in my last post was the instruction to pick a color.  If you click the drop-down arrow beside almost any field that is labeled Color or that is used to select a color, the same color dialog appears.

Click the graphic to see your options. Note that if you are using Word 2003, you will not have the Theme Colors options. Your final option, More Colors..., shows additional dialogs with more color options.

Standard Tab

The standard colors on this tab are web safe colors that will show well online. If you plan to convert your document to a PDF and post it on the web, you might want to consider using one of these colors so that you get expected results. As for matching colors, you're on your own.
  1. Click a color.
  2. Click the OK button. The dialog closes, and the color appears in the Color field.
  3. Click the OK button to save the changes.
Custom Tab

If picking colors is your thing, this dialog is for you. You can create exact shades by adjusting the Red, Green, and Blue entries.
  1. Click in an area that is closest to the color you want to define. The system adds a cross hair to mark the area you clicked, updates the color slide bar with shades of that color, and adds numbers in the Red, Green, and Blue fields to define the color.
  2. Use the color slide bar to adjust the color you are defining. Click the left-facing arrow and pull down or just click anywhere on the slider to move the arrow.
  3. Enter specific numbers in the Red, Green, or Blue fields to fine tune your color.
  4. Write down your color definition. You won't remember it later.
  5. Click OK to save your color selection. The dialog closes, and the color appears in the Color field.
  6. Click the OK button to save the changes.
You also have the option of changing the Color model. I normally don't do so; however, you might want to investigate this option.

In almost every instance when I have had to choose colors for a Microsoft product, the dialogs shown here are the dialogs I've used. Therefore, if you are interested in color, it's worth your time to learn to use the dialogs. You'll see and use them again and again.

Personal Note
I'm sorry I disappeared for the better part of the week. The man in my life had a health issue and we were dealing with it. I was fretting far too much to be able to post anything that was coherent. He's much better am I!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Frame Up Part Two

For the most part, you can ignore the Setting options. As you learn to use this dialog more, you can come back and decide if the Setting options help you.

Pick a line style. Use the scroll bar to see additional line styles to select.

If you're going to print the document, stick to black or shades of gray. If you're going to PDF and post, pick a color.

Pick a line width. Click the drop-down arrow to see what your options are.

To add a line, click the above, below, or beside line icon. Look at the preview to see the where the line was added.

To remove a line, click the icon so that it disappears from the preview.

For example, if you are altering a Header style, you might want to put a line under heading text. Click the below line icon and the Preview updates to show the line below the text. Or, you can click the above line icon and have your heading text appear below the line. Check the preview to see what the results are.

Apply to
In the case of altering a style, your only choice will most likely be Paragraph.
  • Accept the default of Paragraph.
  • Click OK.
The Borders and Shading dialog appears in a number of other instances, which means that the Apply to field can have a number of additional options appearing on it. Pay attention to this field whenever you use dialog.

After you've picked one or more of the line icons, the tendency of the software is to keep it. If you decide to alter the style, the Preview might not update. If that happens, click the line icons to remove all of the lines. Save the changes. Display the dialog again and pick the lines you want to use.

More to come later.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Frame Up Part One

Global Tab Changes
Since we are talking about styles and making global changes, remember that how you make the change is important. To make global changes, display the Borders and Shading dialog via the Modify Style dialog.

Before I talk about actually using this dialog, I'm going to talk about why you'd want to use it.

Frame Your Text

In a Word document, you'll use the Borders dialog to create styles that include a line above or below text. The lines frame your text into sections. Using lines is optional but a nice to know skill. Knowing how and when to use them can add polish to your documents.

Heading 1 or 2: You might want to add a line to a heading style to create a visual break for your reader. When you add a line above or below Heading 1 text, you tell your reader at a glance that they are starting a major section.

Headers: Add a line below to a header style and the system draws a line across the top of your page...the top edge of a page frame. Your header text appears above the line.

Footers: Add a line above to a footer style and the system draws a line across the bottom of your page...the bottom edge of a page frame. Your footer text appears below the line.

Click this sample page to display it in a new window.
Click the Back button to return to this blog.

In my next post, I'll explain how you use the dialog to get these results.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

To Tab or Not to Tab

Global Tab Changes
Since we are talking about styles and making global changes, remember that how you make the change is important. To make global changes, display the Tabs dialog via the Modify Style dialog.

The first decision you have to make is about Alignment.
  • Left: The normal left tab stop that you've used for as long as you've typed.
  • Center: Text is centered to the right and left of the tab stop.
  • Right: Text feeds to the left of the right tab stop as you type.
  • Decimal: Text fees to the left until you type a period, and then text starts feeding to the right.
  • Bar: Never used it...don't know. If you have a suggestion, please add a comment.
When you consider a large document--for example, a family history, for the most part, you'll be using pre-defined styles that already have tab stops defined. I rarely have occassion to use this dialog but that's me. I feel a need to explain it to you so that you know where the info is because you may be producing different kinds of documents.

The one place where I do use tab stops (left, center, and right) is in headers and footers. When you use mirrored margins with running headers and footers, the text elements (like page numbers) need to be set up with margins that feed text in the right directions so that the page numbers stay with the margins.

Another place where tab stops are used is in the table of contents (TOC). When you generate a TOC, you make many of the layout including tab stops and leader dots on the dialog you use to generate the TOC. However, you should know the source dialog.

Leader Dots
Leader dots are used in TOCs. They are the dots that appear between the end of the section title in the TOC and the page number. The dots give your eye something to follow so that you can pick the correct page number.

Using the Dialog
In the Tab stop postion field, you enter a tab stop position in inches, select an alignment and leader dots (if necessary), and then click Set.

When you want to remove one tab stop, highlight the tab stop in the list below Tab stop possition, and then click Clear.

If you want to remove all tab stops, click Clear All.

Changing the Default Tab Stop
Every Word document has default tab settings defined for you. If you open a blank document and start pressing the tab, you'll find that the tab stops are .25 or .5 inches across the page. In later versions of Word, you can change this default for the style you are modifying.

Local Tab Changes
You can display the Paragraph dialog to make local tab changes in a number of ways. We've already discussted one...using the ruler.

In addition, you can select text, right-click, pick Paragraph from the pop-up menu, display the Paragraph and then the Tabs dialogs, and set tabs. Again, because of the way you are making the change, you are making a local change that applies only to selected text.

Or, you can select Paragraph from a menu (Word 2003: Format, Paragraph) (Word 2007/2010: Home tab, Paragraph group; click the arrow in the lower right of the group box), and then select the Tabs button.

Again, I'm not convinced that in long historical documents that you are going to find a lot of use for tab stops. However, because you are going to need to construct mirrored headers and footers, you should know your options for making the changes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Add Paint to Your Genealogy Toolbox

Everyday Genealogy: Add Paint to Your Genealogy Toolbox: "Pam Treme, my genealogy partner, and I speak at societies in the Tampa area under the name 'The Technology Tamers' . Our presentations show ..."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How many ways can you break a page?

Method 1: Enter a section break.
Word 2003: On the menu, select Insert and then Break to display a Page Breaks pop-up.
Word 2007/2010: On the menu, select Page Layout tab, and then Breaks in the Page Setup group.  A Page Breaks pop-up appears.

Select a section break: Next Page, Even Page, or Odd Page. The Continuous section break has a special use.

When you set up your page layout, you select a section break option to start a new page.

In a long document, use this method to start a new chapter. This type of break affects what happens with your headers and footers. See Page Breakin' Ain't Hard to Do for a detailed explanation.

Method 2: Enter a manual page break.
On the Break pop-up you just displayed, you have an additional option in the to section of the pop-up: Page. Click this option and Word breaks the page and presents you with a new page.

You can get the same result by holding down the Crtl key and pressing Enter once (Ctrl + Enter).

In a long document, try to avoid using this method unless you are at the end of a chapter and you need to add a blank page so that your new chapter starts on a right side page. See Slip Sheeting for a detailed explanation.

Using this type of break in a long document means that you have to add and remove the break every time you add or remove text appearing before the break. Also, this type of break doesn't always give you the automatic spacing before text that is built into a style. I use this type of break sparingly.

Method 3: Enter a paragraph (local) page break.
Right-click in any string of text to dislay a pop-up menu. Select Paragraph to display the Paragraph dialog. On the Line and Page Breaks tab, select Page break before.

I try to set up long documents so that I'm only dealing with page breaking at the end/beginning of a chapter. If I must enter a page break mid-chapter, a local break is the type of page break I like to use. Here's why.
  • Embedding your page break in the paragraph prevents document bloat. You don't have an emply line for the page break. Lots of empty lines in a long document cause the size of the document to pump up dramatically.
  • Using this type of page break ensures that the space before the paragraph that you defined for the style is used. If you decide you don't want this space; that is, you want the text to start as close to the top of the page as possible, click the Indents and Spacing tab, locate the Spacing group, in the Before field, enter zero points before.
Method 4: Build a style that has a page break in it...the global approach.
And so we are back to the Achy Breaky Page Breakin' post; that is, building styles with automatic page breaks includes...the global approach.

You can carry this idea forward if you are willing to take the time the build the style. For example, say you want to take a Body Text style that is used for running text and build a secondary body text style that has the automatic page break in it and the space before the paragraph removed so that the text bumps right up against the top margin of the new page.

Using the regular Body Text style, you build a new style with a new name (Body Text PgBrk). When you have text in a paragragh that you want to have start on a new page, you apply the Body Text PgBrk style. If you add or remove text before this page breaked paragraph, you simply apply the regular Body Text style and the page break goes away. Taking this idea to this point is hyper automation but can be worth your time if you have a very long document and a limited number of styles that you are using.

Next Post
I'll continue talking about modifying a style. Be there or be square...