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February 23, 2013

Creating a Family Story Book Using Flip-Pal and Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
Yesterday Volume 2 of my McGinnis Family Story Books arrived from Shutterfly. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

First I used my amazing Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner to scan the family photos I wanted to use in my book. I like using the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner because I can sit on my sofa and watch television while I"m scanning the photographs!

After transferring the scanned photos to my computer (easy with the memory card and USB adaptor that comes with the scanner!) I organized them into a directory on my laptop Then I uploaded them to Shutterfly. I created a different size book this time.  Usually I go with the 8x8 books because they are small, easy to pick up and glance through and I just like the look of them. But this time I went with the 8 1/2 x 11 and I'm really glad I chose that size.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
The 8 1/2 x 11 allowed me to insert a census image that was legible but had room around the edges for the page background. I could have added a border around those images or embellished the page with a "sticker" but I like the larger images to be simple and plain.

You can read how I organized my book at Creating Memory Books on Shutterfly  It's important to plan the layout of your book before starting. Decide on how you want to organize the pages and photos - by person? Chronologically? You can always switch pages around once you've created pages in Shutterfly but you need a plan to begin.

Think about how many pages you want. I create mine to be between 20 and 25 pages. If it is going to be bigger, I break the book into separate volumes. As an example, my Story Books on my McGinnis family are in 4 volumes, one for each generation starting with my father. The smaller the book, the more manageable to create and the more likely your recipients will be to pick it up and skim through it. Anything larger than 25 pages is, for me, overwhelming to create and I believe would be too much for most people to want to glance through.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
Shutterfly allows me to create photo pages, or text pages or a combination of both. It's easy to quickly pick a layout for each page using their layout options. So if you want to place two photos and one text box on a page, for example, you choose from their options for 2 photos plus text.

Then by using the "customize" feature found on each page you can resize and rearrange the photo and text boxes. You can add more text boxes if you want. Then you can change the background by choosing from their options for whatever theme you are using.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
In this volume of the McGinnis family story, I added scans of newspaper clippings from a family double wedding. I am lucky enough to have the actual wedding invitation so I added that to the page along with photos of the church and of the happy couples. Using my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner this section took less than 10 minutes to scan and upload.

In the end the book is a lovely coffee table book resembling a scrapbook. But it has enough genealogical information and documents to give family members a taste of what I have found on the family. It also allows me to share the wonderful family photos, documents and newspaper clippings in my possession.

I can hardly wait to start on my next family story book project! 


Louise said...

What a great idea. I have made family history scrapbooks and hard backed files full of my findings. But this idea is lovely to make a more simple but eye catching complication of the family history.
I will be having a go now myself :-)
Thanks for sharing.
Echoes Of Our Past

Unknown said...

I love the book!


Diane Miller said...


What a beautiful book! Your article gives me inspiration to try creating some books of my own family.


Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Louise - glad you like it! You it it on the head - I wanted a simple eye-catching book to grab my family's attention!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Thanks Betty, it gets easier with every one you create

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Diane - thank you. It is super easy with my beloved Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and I'm getting used to Shutterfly interface so each book goes faster

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Great tips Lorine. I've used Blurb and Snapfish but it seems Shutterfly might offer more varied options within one book.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Hi Pauleen - I've used Blurb but I prefer Shutterfly themes and backgrounds for photos and documents.

I've never tried Snapfish. Might have to check it out :-)

Joan Thomas Holloway said...

You have inspired me. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is a wonderful post. I have a photobook template that I downloaded from Photoworks before Shutterfly bought them. I like the clean and simple pages that you have created! I like the clean, minimalist look and you've given me some additional inspiration.

Thank you so much for sharing.


Donna said...

Lorine, do you remember what background for the pages that you selected on Shutterfly? I want a neutral, 'old' look and the samples of yours that you showed is perfect but I can't find that in the Shutterfly collection. Thanks for the inspiration, Donna

Unknown said...

Can you share which template and colors you used? Did you do the lay flat, glossy or regular pages? Thanks so much for sharing!!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Jackie & Donna, I don't use a specific template. Sometimes I start with a neutral one and add backgrounds as I wish.

You can pick any theme and then in the BACKGROUNDS tab, choose to add MORE - you can choose from every single colour/design available that way

I do regular pages, not lay flat, not glossy.

Have you viewed my YouTube Videos on creating a Shutterfly book?

Please click on my Videos tab on the front page of my blog for a direct link

Shasta Matova said...

I recently created an 8x8 family history book too, and just loved it. I kept it focused on one family line. I like the idea of having a larger one with census images, etc., and might have to have a go at it. I found Snapfish and Shutterfly to be pretty comparable. I usually just choose the one with the better price!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Thank you for that tip Shasta. I've never created a book on Snapfish, will have to give it a try


Stitches said...

Thank you so much for this post, it gave me the encouragement to actually make a photo book or two from my genealogy information. And I like that you made a little larger one to use actual census forms, letter's and etc. Great Job!!!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Kevin Check out Shutterfly's SHARE SITES section. That might be what you want

Bre said...

Hi there! I just found your site, as I want to create a book with all of the info that I have collected about my ancestors.. I noticed that we both have the same maiden name (and that your book is about the McGinnis family line)! I wonder if we are related?! Would love to chat and see if we are:)

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Bre, your best bet is to take a look at my brief outline of my McGinnis family at Have a look to see if locations and first names ring any bells.