When I started working on my Notebook Project, I wanted a way to make a cover sheet for each binder that represented the contents. I first thought of making a scrapbook page, but I really wanted to do something fast and easy. Then I thought of creating a word cloud of the names in the book. Wordle is my favorite tool for creating word clouds, so I tried it first. It took a few tries to get the process down pat, but now I can create a really cool cover sheet in just a few minutes.
I start by using my genealogy program to create a simple name list that only includes the given name and surname. I select all the surnames that start with the letters included in the notebook. Most of my notebooks cover portions of two letters – for example, it may have some Es and some Fs. Then I export the report to a text-editing program, such as Word and delete the names at the beginning and end that are not included in the notebook. Then I simply copy the remaining names and paste them into Wordle.
I let Wordle use its random process to decide the shape and colors. This way every cover sheet is unique. The only change I make is if the background comes out black; since I’m printing these, I don’t want to waste a lot of ink on a black background. If that happens, then I just click the “Randomize” button until I get a white background.
I really like this method of creating cover sheets. I can see – at-a-glance – the names that are included in the notebook, in a more interesting format than a simple table of contents. The more time a name appears, the larger it is on the cover sheet. So, for example, I know if a notebook has a very large Ellis then it has lots of Ellis family members inside, whereas a large Ellis and a slightly smaller Forrester means that there are similar amounts of each surname. I like including the given names because I think it’s fun to see how common first names were in a certain group of people.