As part of my work in genealogy, I often created high-quality large-format pedigree charts for clients or relatives. These charts measured 18×24 inches, and featured seven generations of ancestors. They’re not the colorful fan charts, or the data-heavy wall charts you see elsewhere. These are simple but classy charts to be framed and hung on the wall for many years.

For the last several years, I’ve had requests from many friends and family to share the file with them so they could create their own charts for themselves or others. Unfortunately, my base file was created in Illustrator, and most people don’t have that on their computers, so either my wife or I ended up typing in all the names, which takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Ufda.

So, now I’ve tried to build the poster as a customizable PDF form. Anyone is free to use this form to create their own seven generation charts for themselves or their family (if it works). Here are some things you may want to be aware of:

  1. Because of the font used for the names, you will need to enter either one or two spaces at the BEGINNING of the name field to get it to line up right. This is because Acrobat cuts off the left side of the font’s flourishes.
  2. The birth, marriage, or death fields can be erased if needed, for instance, if someone has not died.
  3. The font will shrink if you type in text that extends beyond the field. It is recommended for uniformity that you abbreviate middle names or shorten names when possible to provide a clean appearance. This chart is more about a clean presentation than full genealogical completeness.
  4. There are some examples of how the dates and places COULD be written. This is the format I have used, and it has suited me fine. Do whatever you would like.
  5. There are several different versions. The primary version begins with one person and traces their ancestry. The other versions show two or more children of a couple, and are intended to display the ancestry of a family. Use whichever suits you.
  6. You SHOULD be able to save the forms and continue where you left off. SHOULD is the operative word here. Some systems, particularly Acrobat Reader 8 and below, will not be able to have this functionality. Use caution, and maybe do a little testing before you try this out to make sure it saves correctly on your system.
  7. The forms come with no guarantees. These may not work on your system. I’m offering them for free here, and you get what you pay for! If something isn’t working, let me know and I’ll try to fix it, but I’m no PDF-form-making wizard, I just learned this stuff yesterday (and I’m not joking!).

If you see this and think to yourself, “Man this looks great, but I would like a different background, or a little adjustment here or there,” no fear, I DO have the ability to change some of this stuff, and could do so for a small donation if you felt so inclined. I also provide genealogical services through Shoebox Genealogy, and could do a little research for you to try to help verify or expand your data.

FILES FOR DOWNLOAD

Each of these files is about 26 megabytes, and is available for download through google drive. I would not recommend OPENING them in your browser, DOWNLOAD them to a location on your computer, then edit them from there. It’s a little safer and easier that way and it ensures that you’ll have full functionality from Adobe Reader. Oh, and by the way, you’ll need Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader installed to use these.

7 Generations – One person in primary position

7 Generations – 2 kids

7 Generations – 3 kids

7 Generations – 4 kids

7 Generations – 5 kids

7 Generations – 6 kids

NOTES ON PRINTING

Okay, so you have your data now. It’s saved in your file. You’re ready to print. There are a few ways to do this.

  1. The first way is to take your saved PDF file to a local printer, where they should be able to print directly from the PDF without any issues. All the fonts and the background image are embedded in the file, so the printer should do just fine. I used FedEx for years, and it was about $25-$30 to print one chart. Since then, I’ve discovered that most Costco photo centers can print these for about $5-$10, and the quality is better. BUT, I haven’t tried taking them the PDF. You’ll need to call ahead to make sure they can accept the PDF format for printing.
  2. The second way is to “print” the PDF form to another PDF. This locks in all the data, and essentially provides a more standard document to print from. BUT, you’ll need a quality PDF printer installed on your computer, and you’ll need to adjust the paper size, so it doesn’t try to give you six letter sized pages with a part of the image. This can be a little tricky if you’re not computer savvy, so try the first method instead.
  3. For optimum compatibility, save the form as a JPG file using the full Adobe Acrobat software, use an online PDF to JPG converter (there are dozens, just google the term), or convert it using Photoshop or another image editing software. Try to get around 300dpi, and keep it at the native 18×24 inch size. The file will likely be big, but this is the easiest format for most untrained print-center employees to work with.

Well, there you go. Head out to Walmart and buy a simple little frame and hang it on your wall. Once it’s printed, send me a photo so I can see how it turned out. Good luck!

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