Add Photos and Text to Your Genealogy Pages without an iPad

Posted by Carly Morgan on

Today I'm finally answering a question I get asked a lot! I used PDF worksheets to organize my genealogy and now I sell them so other people can do the same. I use my iPad and an app called Goodnotes to add in photos and information but I have a lot of customers who don't have an iPad and I'm constantly asked if there's another way to add text and photos to the pages without printing them out and writing on them directly.

The short answer is: YES!

I was hoping I could figure out a free hack using Google Docs but after playing around with a few different methods, I think Adobe Acrobat is the easiest and produces the best results. You do have to pay for Adobe Acrobat (purchase it outright or pay $12 per month with an annual plan) but the good news is that you can pay one month at a time so if you're only planning on doing this sporadically it's really not that expensive.

I'm going to go through step by step to show you how to add photos and text to PDF pages. This may seem a little too detailed but I'd rather you have too much info than not enough!! I'm not going to show you how to download and install Adobe Acrobat because that will look different depending on what type of computer you have so let's assume you have Adobe Acrobat open on your computer:

As you can see, I mostly use Acrobat to do the PTA newsletters for my kids' elementary school. Since I don't use it to do my own genealogy, I didn't have any of my genealogy worksheets in the recently opened files. To open one, I went up to "File" and selected "Open":

This pulls up a box where I can select a file to open. I had saved the Ancestor Profile pdf to my desktop so I selected that one.

The file is open, but you can't add text yet. On the right hand side, you'll see a menu. You need to select "Edit PDF" and this will open the tools to add text and images.

Now you can see the toolbar right above the document image. Select "Add text" and put your arrow where you want to add text. A text box will open and you can start typing.

My computer automatically selected the same font that I used to create the page but I don't know that you'll have the same fonts that I do so yours might look different. If you want to edit the font (type, size, color), highlight whatever you've typed and use the options on the right-hand side to change it.

If you're putting together a genealogy notebook, I suggest picking a font and a type size and then sticking with it to make your pages look more consistent. You might even want to write the font and type size on a post-it and keep it in a place you can reference easily. To add an image, use the "add image" option on the menu above the document image:

This will open a box where you can select an image to upload from your computer. I had saved a scanned photo to my desktop.

The entire image will be imported and you can move it around and resize it.

If you want to crop the image, right-click on it and select "crop" from the menu that pops up:

The box that opens is a cropping box. Move the edges of the box to where you want the edges of your image to be:

Once the image is cropped, click outside of the cropping box to set the image. You can then resize it and move it around.

Another helpful tool is the zoom feature. It's the percentage box you see in the top bar menu, right next to the plus sign with the circle around it. In this image, I have the page zoomed out to 50% so I could see what the image looked like on the full page.

When you've finished adding text and photos, choose "Save as" from the "File" option in the menu at the top. This will save your PDF and allow you to rename it so you don't accidentally replace your original blank PDF worksheet. I hope this helped!