How to improve the text in a scrapbook layout

Far too many scrapbook pages fail to explain who is in a photo in a timeless way. Improving the text in your scrapbooy layouts is easier than you think and well worth the effort.

After creating four heritage scrapbooks, I have learned so much and I wish to these share tips with you. In so doing, perhaps you will avoid the mistakes that frequent digital scrapbook gallery in heritage themed layouts or that I did personally.

The first mistake mistakes plaques not only scrapbooks, but photo albums of various sorts. That mistake is to not use identify who is in the photo. More specifically, to use full names rather than titles such as father, brother, aunt, grandmother, and so on.

Notice what the writing says on this layout:

Grandpa and his brother were extremely close growing up and through out their lives. When his brother died, that was the only time grandpa cried.

The text begs the questions, what was Grandpa’s name? Who was his brother? Who saw when grandpa cried? Further questions from this photo included: Where are they? When was this photo taken?

Add more details in the story on your scrapbook layout.
Kit Credits: Word Art World’s Ocean Views Kit

Be specific so future generations will know

A small correction to the text plus a few additional text elements not only makes this a beautiful layout but provides a lot of useful information.

The major text block reads:

Lewis Brown and his older brother Harry were very close though out their lives. When Harry died in 1976, Lew’s daughter Penny says that’s the only time she ever saw her daddy cry.

Now I know that,

  • Grandpa’s name is Lewis Brown.
  • His brother is named Harry.
  • Lew’s daughter Penny shared the story of only seeing her father cry when Harry passed in 1978.

But when was this photo taken and where?

Those questions are answered using a block of text below the photo and a date to the upper right corner of the photo.

Harry Mingus and Lewis Sherman Brown on the porch of their home at 438 Reeb Avenue in Columbus, OH.

c. 1922 

When we take a few extra moments and a little bit more ink, we can inform future generations more complete details about the who, when and where of pictures.

Take time to identify who is Grandpa and his brother in each heritage layout you credit. Those who read it will thank you later.

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.


  • Devon Lee

    Wendy, grrreeeaatt question.

    With photos, it depends upon where they are presented.

    In scrapbooks about myself or my family blog book when I'm the narrator of the stories, I put my full name on the cover of the album or the interior first page. I use my full name as I hope these creations will be passed down. In so doing, I then only need to identify people who are not me.

    In a paper scrapbook, I would label the backs of every photo with my name and the others in the photos. You never know when someone will remove a photo from a collection and need the 'me' identified as Devon Lee.

    For stories / journaling…

    Once again it would depend upon whether the writings are part of a larger, bound project or a loose one. If it is a bound journal, my name needs to be on the cover or in the inside of the book. If the story is part of another collection or in a binder with plastic sleeves, I would identify myself at least once just in case the story is separated from the original collection.

    In short, if the story / photos can be separated from a collection, then I would identify who I am more often than if I created a photo book or bound scrapbook.

    Does that make sense? Once again, great question. Let me know if I need to clarify anything further.

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