Friday, October 3, 2008

Using's New Printing Options

I haven't done a lot of new online research recently, so when a colleague asked me for help getting some census records I was surprised to see that has added another option to the Print button that I've used countless times in the past.

I was searching for Byron Wheeler (born 1842 in WI) probably residing in Wisconsin in 1860. Here is the 1860 census image for Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Byron is on this page (below the bottom of the screen), so I wanted to make a print of the page to give to my colleague. I clicked on the Print icon just above the image.

A popup window appeared that gave me two choices:

* I could print it as I've always done in the past - entire image or current view

* FREE and easy customized printing. Your custom print should automatically include: Record image, Source, Title, Index. Furthur customize your record with our easy-to-use tool: Crop, rotate, and resize; Magnify and highlight names; Add photos, maps, notes, etc.; Optional page saving.

I chose the Custom Print option and it took awhile for a new window to open and load AncestryPress and then my image. Another popup window opened on top of my image as shown below:

This popup window says:

Welcome to Ancestry's easy-to-use self-publishing service, AncestryPress!
Here's what you can do from this page:

* To enlarge your record, click on it and then drag the little box in the bottom right corner.

* To crop, drag the square handles on each side of the image.

* To highlight an area of interest, add photos and change the page background, click "Customize Your Print."

* To learn more about how to enhance your image, click "Quick Guide."To print your record to your home printer, click "Print/Preview."

If you clicked the "Order" button on the previous page, you can also purchase a professionally printed copy of your record.

We developed AncestryPress to help you get the most value from your subscription. Please note that you can enhance your record, save it, share it and print it on your home printer for FREE.

If you have an online tree, you can also use AncestryPress to create and customize a family history book or family tree poster.

OK, I just want a printout of the census page. I clicked the close button and a formatted page with the full census page image appeared, as if in a book (which is what AncestryPress is intended to produce).

The census page image takes about 60% of the page height and width, there is a title at the top and some reference information at the bottom. I experimented a bit and dragged the lower right-hand corner down and to the right to use up some blank space and make the image bigger, as shown below.

At this point I could have cropped the image, or added a photo or a text box. I just want a print right now, so I clicked on the Preview/Print button and received a plain white (no color background) printout of the image as I had modified it.

What I really like about this new printing option is the information at the bottom of the page. The information for the target subject (in this case, Byron Wheeler) and the source information for the specific census page is given. For this page, it says:

Byron Wheeler: Age in 1860: 18; Birthplace: Wisconsin; Home in 1860: Byron, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Gender: Male; Post Office: Byron.

And the source citation: Database: 1860 United States Federal Census Detail: Year: 1860; Census Place: Byron, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Roll M653_1407; Page 271; Image 275.

While it's not exactly Evidence Explained standards, it's good enough for me on this project.

The only drawback I see for using this method to print record pages is the length of time it takes to load it into AncestryPress format. The major benefit is that it creates a decent and presentable copy with a source citation provided.

When did add this printing option? Did they announce it on their blog? I didn't see anything (I went back to March 2008) except for a reader comment about it on 12 June here, so I did a Google search. All I found was a mention in an article by Paula Stuart-Warren on the 24/7 Family History circle blog dated 20 July.

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