Momento Musings

How to create a family history book

family-history-02This post is for family history buffs and genealogy enthusiasts who have a huge collection of photos and documents to prove it.  We’ve found lots of resources for researching your ancestors, generating a family tree and sourcing data but not many that allow you to combine everything into a single printed project, so we’d like to show you how you can do your ‘labour of love’ justice by publishing it in a premium Momento photo book for your family to enjoy for generations to come.

Plan in advance

Sequencing your story

Before you even open Momento’s software, decide how you’d like to organise and present all your information and sequence the topics in your book – chronologically? by family line? location? event? sibling?  – as this will guide your whole book preparation and design.

Filing your content

To make life easy, store all your digital files in a single folder with sub-folders to match the sequence of your book i.e. if you choose to present the information in chronological order, create sub folders for each decade or year. Be aware, if you move a file from its original location after you’ve started designing your book, the software will lose the link and it will ask you to direct you to the new folder before it can display the image again.


Preparing images

Compatible image formats

Photos or graphics must be in JPG, TIFF or PNG format for use with Momento’s software.

Scanning old photos and documents

If you want to include old photographs, negatives, slides or printed documents you’ll need to scan them first. For best quality results hire an expert to scan them as scanning is an art in itself.  The added bonus is that they generally remove dust and scratches and do some image optimisation as well. We recommend The Filing Fairies, Oscans or DVD Infinity. The Filing Fairies are our close friends and they offer 10% off to Momento customers.


Scanner settings

If you choose to scan them yourself, these scanner settings will give you the best results.

  • File size: 2000 x 1500 pixels minimum
  • Dots per inch: DPI determines how big you can print a scanned image.
    • Scan 300 dpi if you plan to print the image at its original size
    • Scan at 600 dpi if you plan to print the image at twice its original size
    • Scan at 900 dpi if you want to enlarge a photo to fill a whole A4 page
  • File format: Save as a JPG or TIFF with a minimum quality setting of 8 or 80%

Keep them clean

Before scanning any photo make sure you use a lint free cloth to wipe the scanner’s glass and the photo to remove excess dust.

Image optimisation

Don’t get bogged down recovering old photos, the wear and tear is a sign of authenticity and is part of the story but you’ll find Photoshop’s Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches and Despeckle options can assist.

Layout_Despeckle_Dust&Scratches settings


Preparing your Family Tree

With a Family Tree program

Momento’s software does not include tools to design a family tree diagram but you can use your preferred Family Tree software like Legacy Family Tree Maker or Microsoft Visio to export a JPEG, TIFF or PNG file to drag into your Momento project.


Using Ancestry Family Tree Maker

  1. Open your existing chart
  2. Click the Share button
  3. Select Export to Image as a JPG or PNG*
  4. Click Save
  5. More details here

* Choose PNG if you’d like to create a transparent image that allows you to place the chart on top of a background pattern or graphic

Ancestry Report export


Using Momento embellishments

If you’re a keen creative, you can have a go at creating a Family Tree style graphic using our Old Time embellishment pack.  View the tutorial here.


Preparing your text

Use a word processor

No family history is complete without text that confirms who and where the photos were taken, and what date or year the photos and documents were created.  It’s best you type out your text in a word processing program such as Microsoft Word. We suggest Notepad (for Windows) or Simple Text (for Mac) as, while they have limited formatting options, they create the cleanest text for copying and pasting into Momento’s software.

Spellcheck your text

Don’t forget to do a spellcheck in your word processing program before copying and pasting the text into Momento’s software.

Adding text to the pages

Momento’s software is powerful and easy-to-use but it wasn’t designed to deal with lots of full page text, rather it allows you to add words to give your images context.  To add text click the Text Tool at the top right of the software, click the mouse where you want the text to appear, then copy and paste from your source document into the text box.

Momento Software_Layout View

Set Styles

Rather than set the font Style, Size, Colour and Alignment every time, make life simple by using the Set Styles option for Headings, Paragraphs, Captions and Custom text.


Make it easy to read

Designers and publishers agree that white or light backgrounds with black or dark grey text are easiest to read, so limit white text on a black background to photo-only pages and choose 12 point text or larger for the best legibility. The older members of your family will be most grateful!

Heathers 60th by Jade Ingleby

Design your pages

Adding embellishments

Momento’s software includes hundreds of graphics to decorate your pages plus readymade full page templates that you can drop photos into. To access more Embellishments, go the Updater Panel on the right of the software and download a new pack. Old Times and Elegance are particularly appropriate. See our dedicated post on Momento embellishments for family history books for more inspiration.


Inspiring examples

The best inspiration we can offer is to view some fabulous examples from our customers.


Order your book

Proof your file

After designing your book in Layout View go to Finish View to check for Warnings. When everything’s perfect, click the Export button. The software generates a Preview PDF for you to check for font, alignment and image issues. You can also print a copy on your home printer or email a copy to others who might spot grammatical or factual errors you don’t.

Upload your MBF

Only when you’re happy that your file is 100% perfect, upload the Master File (MBF) to your Momento account.  To set up your account click here. Once the upload is complete you’ll find your book appears in your My Projects list.


Digital preview

A favourite feature for many of our customers is the ability to share a digital version of their project by using the ‘Share This Project’ icons allowing you to publish your project in an email, on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or your website.

Place your order

Click the Order button to select your preferred size, quantity, paper, cover material, and for extra protection and longevity, consider a dust jacket or matching Clamshell box. For portrait format books we always recommend Lay-flat Lustre paper.

Dad's Story by Anne McPhee with Lay-flat Paper

Production time

Once your order is placed we will handcraft it with care in our Sydney production facility, checking every page of every book before we pack and sent it to you within 14 days.

Copies for family

Volume discounts

Discounts are available when you order more than one copy, which is perfect if you plan to give a keepsake to the whole family. See our Prices page for details.

More than 25 copies

If you’re preparing for a family reunion and need more than 25 copies please contact us for a custom quote with significantly reduced pricing and softcover options.

Sell your book

You can also sell copies on-demand to family and friends by clicking the Sell button and copying the code to your personal web page or email.  Your sale price is determined by the cost for us to print the book with your preferred margin on top.



Futureproof your photos

Our last piece of advice … heed the words of Vint Cerf, Google Vice President, “If there are photos you really care about, print them out … or they could disappear into a digital black hole.” We can still look at a 150 year old daguerreotype print but many digital files created less than 20 years can no longer be viewed because technology has become defunct or corrupted. Remember the floppy disc? So make a personal today to back up your files regularly, in multiple locations and print them out so they’re safe for future enjoyment.

More family history advice



Image credits

  • Peter Stone
  • Libby Jeffery
  • Mim Davies
  • Anne McPhee
  • Jade Ingelby
  • Miranda Welch






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  3. Barbara Clarkson

    What are the best fonts for older photos and newer photos, headings on the pages. Is it best to use the same throughout or vary it.

    • Morning Barbara. I suggest using a serif font with the extra strokes on the tops and bottoms of the letters. They are considered more ‘traditional’ and would therefore be suitable for a history book

  4. Common serif fonts include Arial and Times. You’ll also find more available in the latest version of Momento’s software, including a classic and contemporary Playfair Display. I would use a single font, making headings slightly larger and bold. If you are including a lot of text, I suggest using columns, as it makes the text easier to read (as in a newspaper or magazine). 2 columns for a square or portrait format book, 3 for a landscape book. White space around the text also makes it easier to read, so don’t place text too close to the edges or photos. Enjoy designing 😊

  5. Karl Passehl

    Can I use my own font and have it installed in the pdf?
    I have used a particular font for several years now and would like to continue using it if possible.

  6. Mike Swain

    Hi, I have been trying to select a program to create a FH book and I do like the look of your product.
    I use Legacy Family Tree for my genealogy, but I am not sure if that is sufficiently compatible with Momento.
    If I understand it correctly, the only way data can be input to Momento is in a graphic format. I think Legacy can only export charts and text etc. is either in a Bitmap format or as a PDF file.

    • Hi Mike, you are correct that you can add JPG, PNG and TIFF graphic files to a Momento project, and you can copy and paste text into a text box. Converting a BMP to JPG or PNG is quite easy on Mac and Windows. If the image content is not photographic, then PNG is a better option:

      On Windows, open the BMP in the Paint program and then do a Save As
      On Mac, open the BMP in Preview app and use Export in the file menu

      You can of course use more powerful apps such as Photoshop, which can batch process to make it faster. And there are websites like this one which will convert a batch of files – some of them only do a limited number for free – If you are offered a quality setting, set it to maximum.

      I hope that helps. If you have any other queries, please contact our service team directly via or 1300 799 764.


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