Heritage Scrapbooking: Using Mini Trees On Your Layouts

Previously, I shared how invaluable a family tree is in a heritage scrapbook album. (Click HERE to revisit these posts.).I hope you'll include them in your future family history creations. One of my friends says she includes family trees in all of her journals, blog books (printed versions of her personal blog), and more. Why? In case her journals or books are ever 'lost' from the collection. A person reading the book can quickly know just who created these items in the first place.

That habit reminded me of something I talk about in my book Creating a Family History Scrapbook Digitially in 12 Simple Steps. When creating a scrapbook about a focal person, it pays to use small family trees throughout the project. This helps your scrapbook reader quickly associate the person on the particular scrapbook page to others in the book. Take a look.

Adding family trees to scrapbook layouts
Use small family trees in your scrapbooks

I really like including mini-trees throughout my family history projects. This mini-family tree includes my grandmother Louise Eleanor Long. It shows the names and dates for her parents and sister. I also love the metal book plate and green brads embellishment that shares when the family was established.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Let me see the big picture because this doesn't really look like much." Alright, here it is.

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Heritage Page about Harry Howard Long

Now you can see the mini-tree pulling it's weight. This digital scrapbook page features my mother's Grandpa Howard Lester Long. I included a photo of him and his wife when they were young adults. I included a photo of when Harry was older and looked more like the man who raised Louise. I included a brief biographical sketch of Harry in the journaling space. With the mini-tree, I have shown pertinent vital information in an eye pleasing way.

On the pages prior to this page, I featured the husband and wife combination of Lewis Brown and Louise Long and two pages featuring Lewis' parents (see next page). Once my reader lands on the page above, they can quickly see that I'm not talking about the Brown family any longer. I'm talking about Louise's Long family. Pretty effective.

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Mini Tree for Sherman Lewis Brown

This family has more children, so it takes up more space on the page layout. I decided not to include embellishments on this mini-tree and leave off the family establishment date. This gave me enough room to include middle names for the children, but not the parents. Here is the mini-tree in action

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Scrapbook page featuring Sherman Lewis Brown

 As you can see, the mini-tree is larger than the previous one. To balance out this visual block, I included only one photo of Sherman Lewis Brown. I still have a brief biographical sketch of Grandpa Sherman in the journaling block.

The other thing I did was to highlight Lewis Sherman Brown in the descendant list. I wanted to assist my reader in knowing how this page relates to the previous ones in the heritage album. This page is sandwiched between a two-page layout featuring Lewis and Louise Brown (my mother's parents) and another two-page layout featuring Harry and Lura Long (my mother's maternal grandparents, the first layout in this post). By highlighting Lewis Sherman on Sherman Lewis' page, you can see the progression 'up' the family tree quickly.

I noticed that with larger numbers of children, the highlighting is easily seen. Where as on Louise's family tree, with two children, the highlighting didn't stand out as much. Perhaps I could have used different colors. Or perhaps, with more children, the contrast color looks intentional.

As I was posting this, I realized I needed to update the box for Grannie Louise to reflect her death date. I'll put that on my to do list, but a archival safe pen will do the trick for now in the printed album. (See my post about not being afraid to create because information changes).

As you can see, mini-trees are effective tools to help your reader quickly know who is related to whom. Try it out on your next scrapbook page. Share a link to your post or gallery where you used this technique in the comments below.


  1. I just love this idea to put in heritage scrapbooks! I was curious what program you use to create the mini tree?

    Thank you!

  2. Stacey, great question. You can make the mini-tee in Paint Shop Pro or in Adobe PhotoShop Elements. I'm sure it could also be created in Adobe PhotoShop. It's boxes, lines, and text.

  3. I like this idea - thank you for all the information you are sharing!

  4. I love this idea and will definitely put mini trees in the book I am working on right now.

    1. Yeah! Please sure a photo when you're done.

    2. Yeah! Please sure a photo when you're done.


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