Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Printing Large Posters - Tips & Tricks

How to make a family history poster using software and a color printer

If you are like me, you have collected hundreds of family names into your database over the years. I started thinking about what will happen to this database when I pass on. I then came up with the idea of printing large family history posters for my family, cousins and extended family. This turned out to be a big hit with my family and genealogy friends.

It also forced me to complete my genealogy research by downloading or purchasing birth records,  marriage  records and death certificates and other vital records as needed.

Have you collected all of your information?

Information about your family, ordered Military Records, read any books for reference.

Check RootsWeb, Ancestry and World Vital Records for links.

In Ancestry, go to: One World Tree, type in name of person, on right hand side, click: Find Famous Relatives.

Software for Mac or PC

Microsoft Word, PageMaker (no longer made), QuarkXPress, Adobe In Design (my favorite). Adobe sells a package called Adobe Creative Suite (ACS) and they have several different versions and prices.

I use ACS-3 Design Premium, which includes Dream Weaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design and Acrobat Professional. They also have Web Premium, Production Premium and Master Collection. There is ACS-4 out and ACS-5 is coming soon.


Most printers require TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) photos in CMYK format. You will need some version of Photoshop and possible a good scanner for editing your photos.

If someone sends me a JPEG (Joint Photographer Expert Group) photo at 72-DPI, I will print it on my printer, than scan it into Adobe Photoshop and save as a TIFF file.

I usually have to spend a few minutes cleaning up the photo, however in Photoshop there is something called “dust and scratches” that does a great job cleaning up photos.


Printing at home is fun and inexpensive, you can see the results in minutes, and if you make a mistake, no problem. Using a service bureau or a local printer, you should make a PDF file and purchase your own paper supply.

Be careful of paper supplied by the printer, it may or may not be acid free. Try to estimate how many prints you really need, how many “cousins” in your family.

You must have a good understanding of CMYK and RGB. RGB (Red, Green & Blue) is for web, DVD, and e-mail; CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black) is for printing.

In Photoshop, go to Image, then to Mode. Then click RGB Color, CMYK Color, or gray scale. Learn to make a PDF file.

What type of printer do I need?

Check and see your printer prints 11, 12 or 13 inches wide paper.  Most printers connect to your computer using USB and some use Ethernet and FireWire (IEEE 1394). As your project grows larger and more complex, you may want to invest in a fast printer with a high-speed connection.

Some people prefer Premium Glossy Photo Paper. I prefer Matte Paper Heavyweight as my choice. I like paper that is thick and can be handled by several people without developing wrinkles.

I also use paper that is compatible with inkjet, laser, color copier, acid free, 2-side printing and 30% PC fiber compatible.

What sizes do you like for printing posters, 8.5 x 11, 11 x 17, and 12 x 18; the choices are yours.

What weight, 30#, 60#, 80# or 100# Cover, you decide what is best for you, I use 100 pound cover, acid free, archival paper.

Acid Free – always, if you walk into a local printer and ask them about acid free paper, and they say they don’t know what you are talking about, run out as fast as you can.

What is the difference between ink-jet & lasers printers? Laser is inexpensive when printing 12 or more, Ink Jet is more economical when printing 10 or less.

I currently use my color printer for proof printing only, and then I make a PDF and use a local printer for laser quality prints on my paper.

Using your own printer

If you have a printer with 3-4-ink cartridges, it’s probably prints RGB

If you have a printer with 6-8-ink cartridges, it’s probably prints CMYK.

Please check your printer guide for more information.