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Resource Roundup: Wall Chart Printers
5/2/2011
Show your clan who's who at the next reunion with a family tree wall chart. We point you to affordable options from three types of printers.
If you’re planning a family reunion this summer, I have a tip for you: All those extended relatives need to figure out how they’re related to each other, and a family tree wall chart makes that easy. Even people with no interest in genealogy enjoy finding their name on the chart and seeing how they fit in the family.
 
Most genealogy software can create a variety of ancestor and descendant charts complete with names, dates, places and pictures—and you can get a chart printed without busting your reunion budget. Here’s a look at affordable options from three different types of services (prices don’t include shipping).
 
Banner-printing services
Just about any general-purpose printing service can work with your JPG or PDF file (formats most genealogy software can save charts in). Check with nearby printers to find out what options are available.
 
I started by calling my local printer, Mathison’s, part of a regional chain. They’ll print a monochrome banner on 20 lb. white paper (like copier paper) up to 3 feet wide for 18 cents a square foot—that adds up to just $3.60 for a 3x5-foot chart and $5.40 for a 3x10-foot one.
The salesman cautioned me that a large banner on regular paper could tear easily, though—if people wrote corrections and additions on it, the pencil might go right through. But it might work fine if you displayed the chart on a table.
 
For something more heavy-duty and suitable for printing photos, Mathison’s recommended 46 lb. presentation bond paper. The maximum size is 60 inches wide and 150 feet long. Naturally, that’s more expensive: $3.95 per square foot, or $59.25 for a 3x5-foot chart and $118.50 for a 3x10-foot one.
 
There’s probably a FedEx Office (formerly Kinko’s) in your area. This nationwide chain charges 75 cents a square foot for printing on 20 lb. white paper up to 36 inches wide and 50 feet long. So it would cost $11.25 for a 3x5-foot chart and $22.50 for a 3x10 foot chart. You can choose from a wide variety of papers; heavy matte paper, for instance, costs $7.25 a square foot.
 
Another national chain, OfficeMax (CopyMax), also offers a variety of papers. For a high-quality, heavy-duty banner, OfficeMax can print in color on 32 lb. matte or glossy paper up to 2 feet wide and 100 feet long. With that particular paper, the price is $49.86 for a 2x5-foot banner and $99.56 for a 2x10-foot one.
 
All of these services offer more options, such as laminating your chart and mounting it on a foam board.
 
Family tree chart printers
Several services specialize in printing family tree banners. They can usually handle not only PDF, JPG and GEDCOM files, but also files from older versions of genealogy software that can’t save your chart in those formats.
 
Ancestry Graphics & Printing charges $3 per linear foot for 2-foot-wide paper and $4.50 per linear foot for 3-foot-wide paper printed in black without pictures. That means you’ll pay $22.50 for a 3x5-foot chart and $45 for a 3x10-foot chart. Color printing costs $4.50 per linear foot on 2-foot-wide paper and $6.75 per linear foot on 3-foot-wide paper—totaling $33.75 for a 3x5-foot chart and $67.50 for a 3x10-foot one. These prices are for 24 lb. bright white paper. Heavier paper and 42-inch-wide paper are also available. This company has printed charts up to 250 feet long for family reunions.
 
Generation Maps offers a variety of paper choices, even vinyl and canvas—plus a handy online calculator to tally your price based on the options you pick. A 3x10-foot chart on 20 lb. paper runs $30; for an extra $8, you can have it laminated.
 
Heartland Family Graphics charges $2 per letter-size page (about $3 per square foot) and prints on 26 lb. coated paper up to 5x150 feet. It costs about $45 for a 3x5-foot chart and $90 for a 3x10-foot chart.
 
Wholly Genes prints on heavy-duty paper; prices start at $19.95 for a 3x12-foot chart.
 
Also see our list of similar services. If you don’t want to design a chart yourself, read our reviews of 11 services that can transform your data into a decorative tree chart (this article is exclusively for Family Tree Magazine Plus members).
 
Photo printers
Save your chart as a JPG file, and you can have it printed as a large poster the same way you’d have a print made from a digital photo. Kodak Gallery charges $18.99 for a 20x30-inch print on matte or glossy paper, and you can pick up your prints at CVS or Target. For the same size print, Walgreens charges $19.99 and Shutterfly charges $22.99 and uses professional grade paper.
 
Do some digging online and you might find even better deals from less well-known companies. You can get a 24x36-inch print on premium glossy paper for $19.99 from Poster Print Factory and for $17.99 from PrintKEG.
 
The bottom line: You don’t have to spend a lot to have a family tree banner or poster printed and it could be the focal point of your next family reunion.

From the July 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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