Module 9: Finalizing your tale (3 assignments)

You have accomplished an amazing work—a legacy—in writing your personal history. Your children and grandchildren will be forever grateful for this priceless gift! So don’t leave it locked on your computer…

Let’s prepare your legacy tale to be shared with your posterity. Don’t rush these final steps; it will take some time to do it right! And if you want it professionally printed, be patient! Printer deadlines are very early for Christmas as well as other times. To be safe, allow three months from when your manuscript is completely finalized and sent to print, for it to arrive beautifully bound. It is absolutely worth the wait!

Follow these steps to prepare it yourself, or contact us (702/625-1466 or [email protected]) for professional help with any or all of the editing, layout and printing. We’d love to assist you in creating a legacy tale you’ll be proud to share!


Assignment 1: Editing and Finalizing Text

  1. Run spell checker on your computer, and print your first draft. In hard copy, read through your manuscript completely at least once and mark changes by hand. Go back into your electronic document and make the changes you marked. Cut and paste passages from one place to another in your tale, if needed to improve the flow.  Check for:
    • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
    • date consistency
    • fact consistency
    • formatting and style consistency
    • major gaps in time period or information
    • complete names
  2. If your tale seems too passive, like a steady list of things that happened, consider reworking portions of your story to be more active. Change “was” and “were” to action words. Try to bring events  to life with descriptive words and scenes, helping the reader feel connected.
  3. Ask at least one friend or family member you trust to proofread your manuscript. Allow enough time for them to be thorough and provide thoughtful feedback.
  4. Make additional changes to text for clarity, accuracy, and readability.
  5. Choose a title for your legacy tale. Be creative and think of something that might be unique to you and/or ties into your life.

OR consider professional editing by Legacy Tale. Our services include editing and consulting for content, format, organization, proofreading/copyediting, photos and captions. We can also create and include special features like timelines, pedigree charts, memories submitted by other family members, flowcharts, etc.


Assignment 2: Layout and Design

Now that you have finalized the written content of your tale, look at your manuscript for aesthetic qualities and visual appeal, as well as print quality. Adjust your document according to the following guidelines:

  1. Choose a single font for text that is highly readable (nothing fancy!) in size 11 or 12 point.  Consider Times New Roman for a classic look or Calibri for a more modern look.
  2. Make margins 1 inch on all sides.
  3. Add section headings. Use the same or a similar font, bold and underlined. Identify section topics and break points that make sense given your life story. Feel free to move text around to improve the flow and readability of your tale. If you need ideas, consider using the module topics that prompted your writing:
    • Early Life
    • Family Roots
    • School Days
    • Working Life
    • Marriage and Family
    • Golden Years
    • Holidays and Traditions
    • Reflections
  4. If you plan to professionally print your tale, save each section as a separate file, including a number within the file name to preserve proper order (i.e. 01 Front Matter, 02 Early Life, 03 Family Roots).
  5. Insert your scanned/saved photos and documents into your manuscript. For best visual design, insert them adjacent to the matching text (baby pictures in early life, marriage certificate next to the story of your wedding day, etc.). Exact instructions will vary based on your software.
    • Include a caption for every photo. Be consistent in the format for captions, using the label information you prepared while writing your tale.
    • For print quality, do not increase the size of photos within your document; that should be done while scanning (refer back to photo instructions if needed).
    • If printing costs are a concern and you have a large number of color photos, consider placing them together at the back of the book or at the end of each section/chapter.  This will result in fewer color pages to print than inserting them within the text may require.
  6. Prepare front matter
    • Cover page with the name of your tale (you can use a more intricate or different font here!)
    • Title page with the name of your tale and your complete name
    • Table of Contents that lists sections/chapters (if printing professionally, leave out the page numbers for now)
  7. Prepare back matter (optional)
    • Appendices of letters, others’ memories, or other additional material
    • Pedigree charts (sign up for a free account at to find yours)
    • Other material important to your life


Assignment 3: Printing Preparation and Decisions

Preparing your manuscript for professional printing, and managing the printing process complete with proofs and approvals, can seem overwhelming. Legacy Tale can take the stress and guesswork out of the final stage of preserving and sharing your legacy. We love helping families publish heirloom books that are cherished for generations. Contact us (702/625-1466 or [email protected]) for professional assistance with any or all of the printing process.

To move forward on your own, you need to make some decisions:

  1. How many copies do I need? For whom did I write this? Most clients want copies for all of their children and grandchildren. Others also want it for siblings, nieces and nephews. Some are lucky enough to still have parents around to receive a copy.
  2. How do I envision them reading and/or using it? What kind of binding/printing do I want?
    • Do I want a beautiful hardbound book that will last through time? OR
    • Would a softcover (like a paperback book) or coil binding be sufficient? Those options are not as durable or attractive, but they are more economical. OR
    • Would electronic printing meet my needs? Simply saving your files as PDFs makes them shareable, readable and printable via computer.
  3. For professional printing:
    • Get price quotes from printers. Look around your town or online for options. Consider BYU Print and Mail Services for affordable, high-quality printing of hardcover, softcover, and coil binding. Printers like Kinko’s and Costco often offer paper printing and coil binding directly from your electronic files (no proofing like with a professional printer, so insert your own page numbers and make sure every page looks just like you want it printed).
    • For a price quote, you will need to know the number of copies you want, total pages and the number of color pages, and binding type. You can request quotes for multiple binding types.
    • Check, and double-check, and triple-check your manuscript before sending it to a printer. Proofreading and corrections should already be done.
    • Professional printers will send you one or more proofs before they print. REVIEW THESE PROOFS carefully!
      • Read/scan your entire manuscript to check for dropped lines, proper order of
      • Now is not the time to be proofreading for typos, but if you find a mistake you pages, pictures and captions in the right places and properly linked, color in the right places, etc. can’t live with, they can usually fix it, possibly at additional cost.
      • Work with the printer to place page numbers on every page and within the table of contents.
      • Provide direction to the printer on the cover and spine, including color, what text will be included, font, etc.
      • CHECK EVERYTHING! What you see in the proof is what you get!
      • Give your books as priceless gifts to your loved ones… they will treasure your legacy!
  4. For electronic self-printing:
    • Insert page numbers
    • Save your entire manuscript as a single PDF file.
    • Share with family members via email, flash drive or other electronic platform… don’t just leave it locked on your computer!!

Don’t leave your tale untold…

“This will cost a fraction of the vehicle in your garage, yet its worth and impact will be eternal!”

(S. Mahlon Edwards)