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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

Magazine Style Timeline Layout for Heritage Scrapbook

Would you like to showcase your ancestor's life using a few photos and highlights of their life? Create a layout for your next heritage scrapbook using a photo timeline inspired by a magazine article.

Why Use a Timeline in Your Genealogy Scrapbook?

Timelines help you quickly share the chronological highlights of an ancestor's life and their connection to their relatives and history. Since journaling should be brief in a genealogical scrapbook, timelines are a powerful design tool that can cover many topics in the least amount of space.

A Magazine Inspired This Heritage Layout

While flipping through Time and People magazines, I noticed a page design that I thought would make a simple and effective scrapbook page for my grandma's album. Since I created the page below, I have noticed this visual feature frequently appears in other magazines, with human interest stories.

The overall concept involves arranging events in a person's life by each decade. Then you sprinkle in pictures throughout their life, even if it does not relate to a specified in the timeline.

This way, if you have a single photo from a specific period in your ancestor's life, you can incorporate it into your project, even if you do not want to write a full story about it.

Timeline Layout for Scrapbook

My Grandma Louise's Timeline Page

Louise Long, born May 1920, lived until January 2012. Thus, I need ten sections for the bulleted list

  • Scrapbook Pro Tip: The sections do not have to have the same number of items. You can have larger or smaller decades of details.

Our relatives did not live in isolation from their relatives. Thus, on the timeline, you'll see specific events about Louise's life and those of her closest relations.

  • Scrapbook Pro Tip: Include the full date as much as possible. Using a year will suffice when a specific date is unknown.

This layout spreads across two facing pages, which helps me cover Louise's entire life without sacrificing readability.

Before each decade, place a photo to highlight those ten years.

Place a caption below each picture. Labeling helps readers know years from now who was in the photo from the 1960s.

  • Scrapbook Pro Tip: Timelines might cover many details, use abbreviations and a legend to save space.

Notice the black legend at the center bottom of the page. Louise had six grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and at least one great-great-grandchild before she died. If I wrote something like "granddaughter Devon born” for each event, the timeline became too long to include on two pages without using an unreadable font size.

Instead, I developed my own set of abbreviations, but I included a legend, so no one has to guess my thought process.

The phrase "GD Devon born" saves 11 characters. That adds up with each use of the abbreviations.

What Did I Use to Create This Timeline Scrapbook Layout?

I have not found a template for creating something like this using a drag-and-drop online photobook creator like Shutterfly or Mixbook. I had to create my own layout using a digital scrapbooking program such as Photoshop Elements.

For the layout:

  • Create a text box dragged into a column with text wrap.

  • Copy the text box at least once for a one-page layout or three times for a two-page spread.

  • Click on the column text boxes to highlight.

  • Chose the work tray's align features to align the boxes to the top and space them evenly.

After this basic layout is in place, I added the text into the first column. When the text extends beyond the end of the page, copy and cut the timeline out of the first column. Then insert it into the next column. For an easy-to-create timeline, try this one using Photos.

After arranging the timeline into columns, move the text and insert photos until the two pages have balance and reliability. Keep the use of embellishments to a bare minimum since this was a text-heavy arrangement.

I don't recommend scrapbooking this layout if you are a new Photoshop Elements user. As you gain your skills, you can manipulate the boxes with ease. For an easier timeline layout, check out this Photo Timeline Idea.

While genealogists underutilize timelines in their research, don't neglect, including them in family history scrapbooks.

If you enjoyed this Heritage Scrapbook Layout idea, you might also like the following:

Supplies: peach paper, clip – Tea party by No Reimer Reason; stitching – Two Soon by Shabby Princess; pink flower – Dinner Party by Shabby Princess; peach flower – altered Mouse House; green flower –  Plentiful by Shabby Princess; heart wire – Photogenic

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