by: Treelines Team
Welcome to Treelines.com, the best way to transform your records, pictures, and memories into a family history your whole family will enjoy reading and contributing to!
Everything on Treelines revolves around your family tree. But there's more to your tree on Treelines.
As you would expect, your tree starts with the names, dates, relationships, and basic life events you're collecting about the members of your family, past and present. But your tree is also the living members of your family who are collecting this information along with you, and the information you are collecting will also include pictures, memories, anecdotes, heirlooms, and any other aspects you want to record.
Most family tree programs do not provide any space for preserving these meaningful bits of family history, but Treelines gives them equal space.
To get started on Treelines, click the Signup link here or at the top right of the homepage. After you submit the signup form, you'll be presented with two options for creating your family tree.
- "I have a family tree" allows you to upload your tree from a GEDCOM file. If you already have a family tree in a website or software program, then you can create a GEDCOM file. Click here for more information on how to do so.
- Choose "I don't have a tree yet" if you are using Treelines to build your first family tree from scratch.
You can upload additional trees later by clicking on this link.
If you choose to upload a family tree, the site will assist you in uploading the file. Afterwards, you can set the name of the tree and identify which of the people in the family tree is you!
If you choose to create a family tree from scratch, you will see a screen with a form to add yourself, your mother, and your father to your new tree. A couple tips:
- All items marked with a *star are required.
- Make sure the dates you enter match the examples formats.
- When you enter a place, we will try to match it to one in our world database. If you see the matching place in the list of matches we'll show you, select it from the list for best results (see example).
However you start, now you will see your tree for the first time, and the first page in the tree you'll see is the page for your Treelines story.*
You will see at least see one page for your Treelines story, the page about your birth. If you uploaded your tree, you may see additional pages, each one for a different event of your life, such as your marriage or the births of your children. This is everything we know about your life story so far. It is in this space that you will flesh out the story of your life by editing existing pages and adding more.
* If you see someone else, click on the "Settings" link at the top-right and look for the "You in the tree" box.
There are Treelines stories awaiting you for everyone else in your tree, too!
There are a couple of ways you can move around your tree. If you want to go to a immediate relative of the person you are looking at, look for the link to that person's page in the list of relatives on the right.
Note also the "Add relative" link at the bottom of the list of relatives. This is how you would add a new member of Harry's immediate family, whether another parent, spouse, or child. We'll talk more about this in a moment.
If you want to go to any relative in the tree, type his or her name in the search box at the top-left of the page. The search box will show you the people in your tree whose name matches what you entered; simply pick the person from the list.
Notice the link at the bottom of the list to "Add 'Lily' as a new person." If the Lily we're looking for isn't already in the tree, clicking on this link is the way to add her to the tree. Using this box, you can search for or add anyone in your family tree.
Whichever link you use to add a new person to your tree, a similar form will appear. Enter the person's information as promoted, being careful, as before, to enter the date in the correct format and match the place to one in the database if you can. A few notes here:
- Make sure you correctly set the relationship of this person to existing people in your tree (see example).
- If this person is alive and you want her to be able to view your family tree, enter their email address to invite her.
- A common question is how to enter a required date if you don't know. There are a few of options. You could just enter the year ("1981"), range of years ("1980-1982"), or mark your guess as estimated ("est. 1980").
If you create this new person from the drop-down menu, we'll take you to the new person's page.
If you create this new person from the sidebar, you'll see this person added to the sidebar of the previous person you were working on.
You can keep adding people to your tree using either one of these ways, but now we'll move onto our main topic, working on the life story for each one of the people in your tree!
Most of what you will do on Treelines is adding information about the people in your tree. You can add pictures (whether photographs of a person, scans of records, or photographs of heirlooms, places, or other relevant items) and text (whether descriptions of the person, memories of knowing that person, or anecdotes from his life). You can add new pages in the person's story or update the existing pages you already have for the person.
To create a new page, click on the big, green plus sign after the last page in the existing story. To edit an exiting page, click on that page.
Whether a new page or an existing page, you'll see a form that looks like the one pictured here. You may already see some of the details filled in if you're editing an existing page, but this picture shows the form for a new page.
There are three sections, all very quick to complete:
- Write text in the text entry box
- Design the page in various ways
- Add details using the tagging forms
The text entry box lets you type as much text as you want for each page.
You make parts of it bold or italic. You can also choose different sizes of text -- small, medium, or large -- to emphasize different paragraphs in different ways, as we've done on this page. You can also add hyperlinks to other webpages.
We recommend that you keep each of your pages short with just a few sentences or paragraphs (like in this tutorial!). Treelines stories have the most impact when each page is concise.
As you consider how to tell your story, think about one or two points you want each page to make. If you want to say more, just start a new page!
For the border and ornament, there are a number of colors you can choose from.
For the image, you can upload a file with any dimensions and crop it how you'd like. Take a look at how we cropped the photograph on this page by clicking on the magnifying glass.
The more pictures you can add for a person, the better your story will turn out. If you don't have photographs, consider whether stock images of people like your ancestor or places where they lived would help enhance their story. (Just make sure you have the rights to use these images!)
This page has uses different design elements from the ones in the previous page. Note as you read this story how the different colors, borders, and ornaments add visual interest!
Also note how we cropped the record on this page to make it easy for readers to focus on the part of the census that is relevant to the story, as well as to explore the whole record.
Like a slideshow, each Treelines page has room for just one picture or record, so you'll create a new page for each photograph or record you want to share.
The third part of creating pages, tagging, may seem like the trickiest, but it's also the most powerful and well worth the effort.
When you read the last three pages, did you notice how the family tree animated at the bottom of your screen? Use the back arrow to check it out!
These Treelines (family tree + timeline) were drawn automatically from the tags! The picture on this page is what the tags look like from the previous page, which is the page for the marriage of Harry and Ginevra.
The first part of tagging is to include the people who appear in that page of the story.
Within a person's Treelines story, this happens automatically based on the type of event you select. All pages are tagged by default with the person whose Treelines story this is. If you select a marriage-related event type like engagement, marriage, divorce or annulment, you can add the spouse as well.
- A note about births: If you wish to create the birth of a person's child, don't create it as a page in the parent's story. Add the child as a tree person in the tree (as we saw earlier).
Adding dates to your pages helps your Treelines animations look great!
When you add a date to a page, we can show that event in context of the person's life.
This page has the date Harry went to Hogwarts School for the first time, September 1991. That's why you see the yellow line in the Treelines below.
The second part of tagging is to set the place(s) where this page takes place.
Tagging places won't affect the appearance of your story, but they will affect how other people can find your story if you choose to make it public.
As before, we recommend that you try to pick a matching place from the suggestion rather than creating a new place. Sometimes this can be hard since many towns changed names over the years or were called different names by speakers of different languages. But choosing the official name from our list will give you the best chance of linking your story to others from the same place.
The third part of tagging is to select the type of event this is.
The choices for type of event include lifecycle events like birth, marriage, and death, as well as choices in the categories of genealogy and religion.
If the page you're writing concerns one of these kinds of events, especially if it's a lifecycle event, it's important to set the event type correctly so we can draw this person's timeline and manage his/her family relationships correctly.
Finally, if you know the source for the information in this page, here's where you can fill it in. At the bottom of this page I added the attribution for this quote about doing family research:
you project yourself into the very mass of things…you will, by the very act of
searching, make something happen that would not otherwise have happened.”
Not all pages in your story need to have tags. In fact, it's good for a person's story to have a mix of dated life events and more general memories, anecdotes, and especially historical context.
But the more you add dates and event types to your pages, the better the timeline on your Treelines story will appear, and the better we will be able to manage your family tree for you.
Besides creating and editing pages in the person's Treelines story, you can also delete pages if you change your mind or drag pages around a story to reorder them.
Finally, make sure you add a picture of this person to the cover of the story. You can do this by clicking on the cover and then either uploading a new picture or choosing one that you already added to the story. Here you can also pick the color you want the story's title to appear in. Pick a color that complements the picture.
When you read and share this story, this image will fill the whole screen the way the image of the two little girls at the beginning of this tutorial filled the screen.
So far you've just viewed the story in "build" mode. But this is not the way it will look when you and your family read it. It will look like this tutorial that you are in the process of reading.
To see the full-screen view, click on the full-screen icon at the top of the sidebar. Now you'll see the cover of your story with the image expanded to fill the screen. Click on the green arrows at the center right to advance the story. (If you have a keyboard you can use the arrow keys, and if you're on a mobile device, you can swipe.)
To go back to the build mode from the story, click on the pencil you will see at the top-right.
This story, and all of the other stories in your tree, are completely private. When you're ready to share this story with a relatives, you can invite them using the green "Share" button in the middle of the sidebar. They'll get an email with a link to read the story.
This will also give them access to your whole tree so they can make contributions to the stories of the relatives they know best. We'll show you at the end of this tutorial how you can adjust their privileges from there.
We know that there is a lot more to a person's life than just their life story. There are individual episodes you might want to explore in depth, or there may be stories involving this person and a few other relatives together.
Everybody in your tree automatically gets a life story that you can embellish as we just did. But you can also create as many additional stories as you'd like!
To start a new story about a person, click on the "Add story" link in that person's sidebar. That link will take you Treelines' full storybuilder, which works like the storybuilder we just used, but with a few extra features. The full storybuilder is covered in this tutorial. After you start a new story, you will see it listed in the person's sidebar as shown.
There are a few other important things you can do in your tree besides what we've covered so far.
If you'd like to browse the tree, click on the "Browse" link at the top-right.
You can move around the tree by clicking on the green icons or each person's "view tree" links. (Clicking on the name of a person will take you to her story page.) You can also search for a person by name using the search box in the top-left of the tree.
If you mouse over the "update" link with each person's name, you can update their basic information or add relatives to them (same as you did earlier).
Finally, if you click on the "Settings" link at the top-right of the page, you'll have the ability* to change the name of your tree, download the stories you've written as PDF files, and most importantly, invite other people to work on your tree with you. Treelines is the perfect place for relatives all over the world to gather their pictures and memories in one location!
You can invite people to your tree by email address. Depending on what you've told us about the people in your tree, we may offer some suggestions about whom to invite, or you can use the general invite at the bottom of the list for anyone else.
Each person you invite to the tree can have different levels of access as the example shows. Your tree can only be viewed by people in this list and no one else.
You can block a person from your tree at any time by clicking on the "X"next to his or her name in this list.
* If you are looking at a tree that you did not create, but were invited to, you may not see all of these options.
If you find yourself in a different area of the Treelines website and unsure how to return to your tree, just click on the Treelines logo.
(If you have more than one tree, you may need to use the tree menu at the top-right to switch which tree you are looking at.)
And that's just a quick overview of everything Treelines can do!
If you have any additional questions, please check out our FAQ section or contact us.