Family History Books - Genealogy

48 Hour Books can help get your Family History into print faster than anybody. Here's how we're different from the rest when it comes to genealogy and family tree book printing:

  • 2-Day Turnaround! We print books in 48 Hours Guaranteed. Hard-cover books and Coil bound books are done in 5 days.
  • Great Customer Service! We actually answer our phones. Really! Give us a call ... 800-231-0521.
  • Easy Ordering! Simple, quick step-by-step ordering. But if you have any questions, just give us a call. We're here to help.
Instant Pricing


Are you writing a Family History? Here are some tips from 48 Hour Books on how to make a family tree book.

Compiling a family history can seem like a daunting task. The first decision you must make is deciding what the primary use for your Family History book will be. Will it be a keepsake for other family members? Or is it a family genealogy book that you are going to market and sell? Depending on the answer to this question, you may want to take a specific approach.

Are You Just Getting Started with Self Publishing?

We encourage all of our authors to do as much themselves as they can. From family history book layout and formatting to PDF conversion, we can help you to do it yourself, which will save lots of time and money. We're always available to answer any questions you may have, and if you'd rather just give us your raw Word files and have us do the formatting and PDF conversion for you, we're happy to do that, too. We can help you to design your book, from the size of your pages to what fonts to choose for your chapter heads. And we can help with the layout of your cover, too. Our Create-a-Cover is an inexpensive option that lets you select the basic look of your cover. Then you upload whatever photos or artwork you'd like included, and we'll put everything together to make a professional book cover at a fraction of the cost.

Thank you, 48 Hr Books

Are You Already a Self Publishing Expert?

Maybe you've already been through the process of design, layout, file preparation, final proofreading, and printing your book. If that's the case, you probably won't need most of the extra help that we've got to offer. But we're still the FASTEST book printers in the world. And with unique capabilities that many of our competitors can't offer (like case binding, coil binding, full-color printing and combo books - books with a combination of some black-and-white pages and some full-color pages), we've got a lot to offer the seasoned self publishing expert. You may not need our help most of the time, but it's nice to know we're still here for you if you run into trouble with something. We've got a great group of customer service people, so call us today, and we'll be happy to help you in any way we can.

Add LOTS of Photos ... As Many as You Can Find!

A great way to display your family history is through your use of photography. There's nothing quite like seeing priceless photos of your ancestors, historical documents, etc. They can really make a genealogy book come to life. At 48 Hour Books we can print black-and-white photos as well as full-color photos. We can even print combination of both, so if you have 30 black-and-white photos and 10 full-color photos, we can handle that. And if you've got color images that you want to be in black-and-white, we can convert them to grayscale for you. If you need an inexpensive way to add a number of full-color photos, consider grouping lots of photos into a color section in the middle or at the end of the book in a montage format with captions. If your book contains a lot of color photos, we recommend 80# matte text paper, rather than the standard 60# white offset.

Thank you, 48 Hr Books
Example of color photos printed on Cream paper.

If you are including photos, be sure to have them already placed on the inside pages of your book before you upload your PDF files to us. Many Family History books include photos that have been scanned from old scrapbooks. Make sure all of your photos are high resolution. If you're scanning old photos, be sure to set your scanner on the photograph setting and set it to at least 300 dpi (dot per inch). If you're taking more recent photos off of webpages (like Facebook, for instance), they may be low resolution. Zoom in to 200% to get an idea of how good or bad they'll look when printed. If they're not good enough, try contacting whoever took the photo and see if they have a high resolution version that they can send to you.

Use these Great Resources for Writing a Genealogy

Take advantage of the online resources that can help you to investigate the history of your family and compile information. Websites like and provide information on your family's history, simply by entering your name into a database. These sites also help to generate family trees, which are great additions to family history books, and depending on the site, do not require a subscription to create.

Other online resources to consider are genealogy software that help you organize your data and research. This software may cost money, so be sure to search for sites with free trials. When you are choosing different software to use, be sure that you are able to export any graphics or documents you want to use in your book, into PDF format.

Layout and Organization

It is important to have a clear vision of how you want your family history book to be set up. You should first determine the size and type of binding.

Choose the Best Page Size

48 Hour Books offers Free Book Templates that you can use to format your book. They'll open in Microsoft Word or just about any other word processing program, and they come in four standard sizes:

  • 4.25 x 7
  • 5.5 x 8.5
  • 6 x 9
  • 8.5 x 11

You can type your book directly into the family history book template and set it up any way you choose. Be sure to choose the right page size, and when you're done formatting, simply convert the file to PDF format, and the resulting PDF file will be ready to upload to us. You'll upload your files directly to your order, so you'll need to place an order first on our website. If you get stuck or have any questions, remember, we're just a phone call away ... 800-231-0521.

Free Book Templates

Type of Binding

Perfect Bound books are great for most orders because they keep the cost down, but still hold up very well over time. At 48 Hr Books, our STANDARD turnaround for Perfect Bound books is just 2 business days. Nobody else in the world offers that as their standard turn-around. And if that's still not quite fast enough for you, we even have Rush and SuperRush options available. You might also choose Coil Binding, especially if you have worksheets or activity pages that you want your readers to write on. And of course, Hard Cover (case binding) is also available. Both Coil and Hard Cover take 5 days to produce.

Perfect Binding Case Binding Coil Binding

Cover Design:

If you are creating a family keepsake, these can in some ways be less formal with more personal touches. When designing the cover, you might decide to make it more fun by showing a group family photo or by using a playful design. But many authors choose to put the best old photo of the family patriarch or matriarch on the cover, with the family name and the span of years that the book includes.

If you need help constructing your cover, 48 Hour Books has a Create-a-Cover option for $100. With this option, you can choose a general layout, a background color and texture, and any additional instructions and photos you want included. Email all the photos to us, and our prepress technicians take your options and assemble your cover using these elements. The $100 is a one-time fee, so if you receive your cover proof and decide you want to change an element on it such as the background color, this is no problem. If you have InDesign, you can use one of our Cover Templates to design your own cover.


When writing your Family History, there are different approaches you can take when it comes to organizing the material. You can take a strictly narrative approach, where you set up your book in chapters and chronologically narrate the history. You can incorporate photos in each chapter, or a montage of photos in the middle or at the end of the book. If you are writing a genealogy book that you plan to sell, you may want to take a more structural approach with different sections, based on significant periods in your history.


Family Histories can have a dense amount of material, so it may be useful to include an Index in your book. This way, if readers want to look up a specific name, they can use the Index to quickly find it. Creating an index can be a daunting task, but with a little effort, you can do it fairly painlessly. Be sure to look up the "how-to" guides on Microsoft Word to help you create your Index the proper way from the beginning. If you follow Microsoft Word's rules, you'll be able to update your index on the fly whenever you make changes to your book.


With the wealth of information in your genealogy, footnotes can be very valuable. Certain terms, people or events may require more explanation, but you don't want to break up the reader's flow. Simply include a footnote or endnote with the deeper explanation. Again, Microsoft Word has detailed instructions on setting up footnotes or endnotes.

How to Self Publish a Family History in 9 easy steps ...

A FREE Self-publishing guide!

We make it easy to self publish, with help from start to finish. We've helped thousands of self-publishers just like you. We've got lots of helpful information on our website, or just give us a call. We're happy to answer all of your questions over the phone. Whether you're new to self publishing, or you're an expert self publisher with several titles already in print, we can help get your books printed fast.

Once you're finished writing your family history, you may wonder, "What do I do now?" Not to worry! Below we've outlined some steps to take that will get you started in the self-publishing process!

Step 1: Edit/Proofread

Don't forget to proofread your book before you send it to us for printing! The best way to keep your costs low is to proofread carefully at every step. Your costs start to increase if we have to go back and forth with multiple revisions of your files. Try to give us trouble-free "ready-to-print" files from the beginning. We recommend reading and re-reading your book until you can't stand it any more ... and then reading it some more. Find family members or friends who are willing to look through your book for typos or grammatical errors. You can even hire someone to do the proofreading and editing for you if you'd like.

Editing your book is perhaps the most tedious part of the self-publishing process, but trust us, you'll be glad you did it! There's nothing worse than holding your finished book in your hands and realizing there's a misspelling on the first page.

Step 2: Apply for an ISBN and Copyright

You may be wondering: What exactly is an ISBN?

An ISBN is a unique number that identifies a book. Many books have the same or similar titles, so bookstores and book distributors use an ISBN to be sure they're ordering the correct book. If your book doesn't have an ISBN, bookstores (including online bookstores) won't carry it.

Sample ISBN
Here is an example of an ISBN. It's just a 13-digit number.

Each version of the book (paperback, hard cover, ePub, MOBI, PDF, audiobook, etc.) has it's own unique ISBN. So you might need 4 or 5 ISBNs just for one of your titles. That's why it's best to order your ISBNs in blocks of 10, 100, or even 1,000. Keep in mind that once these numbers are assigned, they cannot be re-used.

At 48 Hour Books, we offer packages that include:

  • setting up your account with Books In Print, where all bookstores and book distributors go to find your book
  • purchasing ISBNs in singles, or in blocks of 10, 100 or 1,000
  • generating unique barcodes for each of your ISBNs purchased
  • providing you with detailed instructions for updating your listings at

To make it simple? An ISBN is like a serial number that identifies the publisher, author, and title of a book (as well as other information). More than likely, you'll need an ISBN if you plan on selling your book (and you'll definitely need one if you plan on selling it in bookstores).

An ISBN is not the same as a bar code, although the ISBN is used to create a bar code. You must have an ISBN if you want a bar code on your book. (A bar code is like a price tag; it's the graphic with vertical lines that gets scanned whenever an item is purchased).

If you'd like to add ISBNs and Barcodes to your order, simply download our ISBN Application Form (USA), fill it out, and email it back to us. (This is only for the United States and its territories. Canadian customers should get their ISBN through CollectionsCanada).

Sample Barcode
Here is an example of a Barcode, which we generate from the ISBN.

Be sure to tell us in the "Comments" section of your order form, so we know to put the barcode on your book cover. And don't approve your book cover if it doesn't have your barcode. If you do, we'll print your books without a barcode. If that happens, the best we can do is to print barcode labels that you can affix to each book.

If you already have your ISBN, we can provide you with a bar code for $20 if you tell us your ISBN.

What exactly is a copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

According to the Library of Congress, your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Basically, once you've written your book, you are automatically the copyright holder.

However, you will have to register with the Library of Congress if you want to be able to file a lawsuit based on the infringement of your work (if you want your copyright to hold up in a court).

It can take several months for a copyright application to be approved, so we recommend researching this as early as possible! Many authors do choose to get their book printed while they are waiting to hear back from the copyright office.

All of this information and more can be found on

Step 3: Format Your Book

Next you'll need to decide how you want your book to look. What size do you want it to be? You may want to visit libraries or bookstores to get an idea of what size books similar to yours usually are. We have four standard sizes available (4.25 x 7 inches, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, 6 x 9 inches, and 8.5 x 11 inches) but we are able to trim to almost any custom size (we can even print books as large as 12 x 12 inches)!

Once you decide on a book size, you'll need to format your document to that size. If you're not sure where to start, check out our Free Book Templates. We've also written a blog post that describes in great detail how to layout your book in Microsoft Word. Click here to read it. (It will open in a new window, so you won't lose your place here.)

Step 4: Design Your Book Cover

Every book has a front cover and a back cover, no matter how simple you want your book to look. When you submit your files for printing, you'll need to send us files for both the inside pages and for the cover. When it comes to designing a book cover, you have a few options:

  • Design the cover yourself: You can create your cover in three separate pieces (front, back, and spine) or in one piece that will wrap around the entire book. Choose whichever method is easiest for you! We have some helpful information about what size you'll need to make your cover in the "Before I Place My Order" section of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Of course, if you have questions or need some guidance, you can always give us a call and one of our techs can help!
  • Choose our Create-a-Cover service: Our Create-a-Cover is an inexpensive option that lets you select the basic look of your cover. Then you upload whatever photos or artwork you'd like included, and we'll put everything together to make a professional book cover at a fraction of the cost. Check out more information about our $100 Create-a-Cover service.
  • Hire a graphic designer: This is the best option if you're not able to design the cover on your own but have something complex in mind for your cover. A local graphic designer can work with you one on one to make your book cover look exactly how you want.
Book Layout Blog Post
Here is an example of a Barcode, which we generate from the ISBN.

Step 5: Make Sure Your Files Are Print-ready! (Proofread AGAIN)

Once the design work is done, and you're sure that your pages are the proper size, make sure all of your files are print-ready. We require PDF files for printing, so you'll want to convert your document into that format. You can convert your files to PDF by choosing "File > Save as PDF" if your computer offers that option. If you don't see that option, you can try downloading our free PDF converter). Or, if you're a new self-publisher and don't want to mess with it, just send us your Word files and we'll convert them for you for $50.

After you save your file as a PDF, be sure to check the PDF file CAREFULLY before sending it to us for printing. Any errors on your PDF will show up on all of your books.

Your book cover can be in PDF format or can be saved as a .jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .gif, .png, .tif, .tiff, .bmp, or .eps file.

Step 6: Place an Order and Submit Your Files

Finally, a simple step! Our Cost Calculator makes it easy to determine how much printing and binding your book will cost. Fill out the cost calculator, and if you're ready to place an order, simply click the big red button. Our online ordering is fast and easy ... of course, if you have any problems you can give our customer service reps a call and they'll be happy to walk you through the process!

After your order is placed you'll be prompted to upload your files directly to your order.

Step 7: Review Your Proofs (Proofread AGAIN!)

We will send you PDF proofs of your files to review before we print your books. This is your absolute last chance to catch anything that you want to change before we print your books. Remember, we are book printers; all of your proofreading and editing should already be done long before you send us your files. However, we know the editing process is never truly over, so we like to give you a chance to triple-check your work.

We'll send you proofreading instructions along with your proof files. Be sure to review them before signing off. They'll give you some help in proofreading your files, but they can summed up in two simple rules:

  • Rule #1: Never sign off on a proof if it is not correct.
  • Rule #2: Never assume anything.

Open your family history book printing files and proofread them CAREFULLY. They should open in Adobe Acrobat or the free Acrobat Reader. Please pay special attention to make sure everything is exactly the way you want it. If something doesn't look right, contact us.

  • ZOOM IN to see fine detail and to make sure the layout and fonts are correct.
  • PHOTOS and ARTWORK: If you're not sure if your photos are high resolution, we recommend viewing them at 200%. If your photos look rough at 200% on your screen, they'll probably be rough when they're printed in your book.
  • PAGE SIZE: Make sure the page size is correct.
  • COLOR MATCHING: Don't trust a PDF proof for color matching. There are big differences between a computer monitor and a printed piece. If you've got colors that you want to match, either send us a printed sample and we'll try to match it, or get a Printed Proof of your book and make sure the color is right. Make sure the book is EXACTLY the way you want it. When you sign-off, you're telling us to print EXACTLY like the PDF proof.

READY TO SIGN-OFF? When you are finished proofreading, log into your 48HrBooks account, click on the "Signoff" link, and either "Approve" or "Reject" your proofs. But please remember, once you sign off, your books go into print. You won't be able to make any more changes.

Step 8: We Print Your Books!

Once you sign off on your proofs, we'll start printing and binding your books! Now all you'll need to do is wait (this may be the toughest part of all)!

Here is where the "48HrBooks" clock starts ticking. Keep in mind, we don't count Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays, and each day's cut-off is 5:00 pm EST for Standard Production, 3pm EST for Rush, and noon EST for SuperRush. Any approvals after these cut-off times will be counted as the following day.

Example: If you OK your proof Monday at 4:45 pm EST, your books will ship Wednesday. But if you wait 20 minutes longer and don't OK your proof until 5:05 pm EST on Monday, the approval will be counted as Tuesday, so your books won't ship until Thursday.

Perfect bound books will ship in 2 days, coil and casebound books will ship in 5 days. Don't forget to add shipping time! Our standard shipping method is UPS Ground from Akron, Ohio so keep in mind that it may take several days for your books to ship. Be sure to contact us if you have a specific need-by date and our customer service reps will work with you to find the most cost-effective way to get you your books on time!

Step 9: Market and Distribute

While we don't offer marketing or distribution services at 48 Hour Books, we do know this is one of the most important steps in self-publishing. How you market yourself and your book will determine how well your book will sell ... and how much of a profit you'll make! Below are some tips and tricks for marketing and distributing your book:

  • Make use of social media. It may seem like a no-brainer, but promoting your book on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest will be your most inexpensive and possibly your most effective method of getting the word out about your book. Be sure to share the info with friends, family members, and other acquaintances. Who knows? You may know someone who knows someone who will want to help sell your book!
  • Contact bookstores. You may have better luck with smaller, local bookstores, but it never hurts to ask every store possible. See if stores in your area will sell your book and research what needs to be done to get your book into larger chain bookstores. Don't forget college bookstores!
  • Set up book signings and release parties to get the word out! Nothing gets people more excited than a party (HINT: especially if there is food involved). Set up flyers advertising your book signing or release party around town and make sure you'll have plenty of copies ready to sell the day of your event!
  • Sell your book online. 48 Hour Books can ship books directly to Amazon if you provide us with shipping labels (you will need to coordinate this with Amazon ahead of time). See if other online booksellers will put your book up for sale as well! It also never hurts to have a website dedicated to your book. On your website, post information about you and about the book ... including how to contact you to purchase a copy. That way, if someone is searching for your book online, they'll have a resource available with all of the information they'll need to know.
  • Hire a marketing or distribution team. While we don't have any recommendations at this time for specific companies, we know there are a lot of highly qualified marketing consultants or distributors out there who can help! Hiring professionals may save you a lot of time and effort if you're willing to pay for the help. Do some research online for book marketing and you'll be amazed by the amount of information that is available!

Your Family History and 48 Hour Books -- A Great Team!

Call us during normal business hours (Mon-Fri, 8:30 am - 5 pm EST) at 800-231-0521, email us anytime at, or check our website, for information on family history books publishing.

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