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How to finalize your personal history for printing: Part 2- Layout and Design

Part 2 in a series of posts to help you finalize your personal history for printing

You have accomplished an amazing work—a legacy—in writing your personal history. Your children and grandchildren will be forever grateful for this priceless gift! So don’t leave it locked on your computer…

Let’s prepare your legacy tale to be shared with your posterity. Don’t rush these final steps; it will take some time to do it right! And if you want it professionally printed, be patient! Printer deadlines are very early for Christmas as well as other times. To be safe, allow three months from when your manuscript is completely finalized and sent to print, for it to arrive beautifully bound. It is absolutely worth the wait!

Follow these steps to prepare it yourself, or contact us (702/625-1466 or info@legacytale.com) for professional help with any or all of the editing, layout and printing. We’d love to assist you in creating a legacy tale you’ll be proud to share!

Part 2: Layout and Design

Now that you have finalized the written content of your tale, look at your manuscript for aesthetic qualities and visual appeal, as well as print quality. Adjust your document according to the following guidelines:

  1. Choose a single font for text that is highly readable (nothing fancy!) in size 11 or 12 point. Consider Times New Roman for a classic look or Calibri for a more modern look.
  2. Make margins 1 inch on all sides.
  3. Add section headings. Use the same or a similar font, bold and underlined. Identify section topics and break points that make sense given your life story. Feel free to move text around to improve the flow and readability of your tale. If you need ideas, consider using the module topics that prompted your writing:
    • Early Life
    • Family Roots
    • School Days
    • Working Life
    • Marriage and Family
    • Golden Years
    • Holidays and Traditions
    • Reflections
  4. If you plan to professionally print your tale, save each section as a separate file, including a number within the file name to preserve proper order (i.e. 01 Front Matter, 02 Early Life, 03 Family Roots).
  5. Insert your scanned/saved photos and documents into your manuscript. For best visual design, insert them adjacent to the matching text (baby pictures in early life, marriage certificate next to the story of your wedding day, etc.). Exact instructions will vary based on your software.
    • Include a caption for every photo. Be consistent in the format for captions, using the label information you prepared while writing your tale.
    • For print quality, do not increase the size of photos within your document; that should be done while scanning (refer back to photo instructions if needed).
    • If printing costs are a concern and you have a large number of color photos, consider placing them together at the back of the book or at the end of each section/chapter. This will result in fewer color pages to print than inserting them within the text may require.
  6. Prepare front matter
    • Cover page with the name of your tale (you can use a more intricate or different font here!)
    • Title page with the name of your tale and your complete name
    • Table of Contents that lists sections/chapters (if printing professionally, leave out the page numbers for now)
  7. Prepare back matter (optional)
    • Appendices of letters, others’ memories, or other additional material
    • Pedigree charts (sign up for a free account at familysearch.org to find yours)
    • Other material important to your life


I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below. Was this useful? If so, I’d really appreciate you sharing on Facebook.

Have you grabbed a copy of my free e-book of writing prompts? If not, you can get it here.

Don’t leave your tale untold…


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