Ancestral Author Classic Tutorial


This tutorial will demonstrate how to get up and running quickly with Ancestral Author Classic (AA). It will guide you through the creation of a very simple document, consisting of:

  • a title page,
  • a descendant report (showing all descendants of an individual),
  • a list of sources and references,
  • a name index.

This tutorial gives you a basic idea of how Ancestral Author works, by introducing the concept of document items, and showing how they are inserted into the PDF document. It will also introduce the concept of a script, and shows how scripts record the content of the document, saving typing the next time you run AA.

Running Ancestral Author Classic

If you have not already installed Ancestral Author Classic, click the Download button below, run the downloaded executable (aaclassic.exe), and follow the installation instruction. You don't need to purchase Ancestral Author Classic to run the tutorial, but there will be a watermark across each of the pages in the PDF document created by AA.

Once Ancestral Author has been installed, click the green AA icon on your desktop, or use the START menu to invoke the program. Once you've done so, you'll see the following dialog box:

AA Classic Window

AA Startup Dialog

Enter The Name of Your GEDCOM File

The first step is to enter the name of the GEDCOM file. Press the GEDCOM BROWSE button (see AA Startup Dialog picture above) to navigate to a GEDCOM file on your computer. If you don't have your own GEDCOM to try, navigate to the sample.ged file in the AA installation directory. For most installations, this will be:

C:\Program Files\Ancestral Author\samples\gedcoms

Then press the PDF BROWSE button to navigate to the folder where you want the PDF file to go. We recommend putting it in your Documents folder, and calling it tutorial.pdf. Once you have navigated to the documents folder, the browse dialog will look something like this:

Select PDF Output File

Put PDF Output File in Documents Directory

Press the Save button.

Enter the Title Page

You are now ready to select document items to enter into the PDF document, starting first with the title page. Press the Next> button. This will bring you to the document item selection screen, shown below:

Doc Item Selection Dialog

Document Item Selection Dialog

This shows a list of items that can be inserted into the document. You'll visit this screen repeatedly over the course of the AA session, selecting items to add to the PDF document. This tutorial will insert the following document items, in this order:

  1. Title Page
  2. Descendant Report
  3. Sources
  4. Name Index

Start by selecting the Title Page as shown in the screen shot above, then press Next>. This will bring you to the title page layout screen below:

Ancestral Author Classic Title Page Dialog

There are several items that can be placed on the title page, including an image, a byline, document footers, and a link to the Ancestral Author website. Keep it simple by entering only the title of the document: "Descendants of John B. Prentice". Enter this into the first text box at the top of the screen, as shown in the screen shot above. Of course, you can choose a different title if you like.

Once you've entered the title, press Next>. This will bring you back to the document item selection screen.

Enter the Descendant Report

The next item in the document is a descendant report. Select "Descendant Report" as shown in the screen shot below, then press Next>:

AA Classic Doc Item Selection Dialog

Ancestral Author Classic Document Item Selection Dialog

This will bring up the descendant report screen, as shown below:

Ancestral Author Classic Descendant Report Dialog

The goal is to generate a register report showing all the descendants of John B. Prentice. This is done by making John B. Prentice the root individual of the report. To do this, press the 'Select' button next to the 'Root Individual' text box; when you do that, AA will ask if it's OK to scan the GEDCOM file.

Scam Gedcom

Scan Gedcom Prompt

It may take a few seconds, if the GEDCOM file is large. Press 'Yes', and wait for the next screen to appear:

AA Classic Gedcom Browse Dialog

Scroll down until you find John B. Prentice, born 3 Mar 1774 in Holden, select his name, and press the 'Select' button at the bottom of the screen. The descendant report dialog should now look like this:

Descendant Report Dialog - With John B. Prentice Jr. as Root

Press the Next> button to get back to the "Document Item Selection" dialog.

Enter a Sources and Endnotes Chapter

The next item in the document is the "Sources and Endnotes" chapter. If this chapter is included, source references in the GEDCOM will appear in the output PDF file with superscripts. All source information is numbered, and listed in the "Sources and Endnotes" chapter. For example, source superscripts for birth and death events will look like this:

1. John Doe, born 19 Oct 1853, Mendon, Worcester Co, MA,1,2 died Chelsmford, Middlesex Co, MA.3

Select "Sources (as endnotes)" as shown in the screen shot below, then press Next>:

Document Item Selection Dialog, Inserting Sources Chapter

This will bring up the sources dialog, as shown below:

Sources Dialog

The sources dialog has an option to select "Popup source annotations", which allow you to view sources for an individual in a popup window next to that individual. This eliminates the need to scroll to the "Sources and Endnotes" section to see the sources. Ignore this for now.

Press the Next> button to get back to the "Document Item Selection" dialog.

Enter a Name Index

The next item in the document is the name index. Select "Name Index" as shown in the document item selection dialog below, then press Next>.

Document Item Selection Dialog - Name Index Chapter

This will bring up the name index dialog, as shown below:

Name Index Dialog

The name index will contain all the descendants of John B. Prentice, alphabetized by last name. There is an option to "Create Hyperlinks". This will create links from the page numbers in the name index to the actual page on which that person appears. A link allows you to click on the page number in the index, and the Adobe Acrobat Reader will go immediately to that page. There is also an option to choose single or double column name index. The default is a double column name index.

Press the Next> button to get back to the "Document Item Selection" dialog.

Create the PDF

You're done placing items in the document, so select the "Done" item, as shown in the screen shot below, and press "Finish" at the bottom of the dialog.

Done - All Items Are Placed In the Document

Once you press 'Finish', Ancestral Author will give you a chance to save your script, as shown in the dialog below. The script is a record of every document item you've placed into the PDF file, and all the options you've selected. By saving the script, you avoid having to re-enter the information in the AA wizard. For this tutorial, we recommend saving the script in the same folder that contains the PDF file, shown below (where MyUserName is your PC user name):


Navigate to the Documents folder, then type "JohnPrenticeScript.txt" in the "File name:" textbox at the bottom, as shown in the screen shot below, then press the "Save" button.

Save the Script In Your Documents Folder

AA will then create the PDF file. This may take a few seconds for very large GEDCOMs. When the PDF file is created, you'll see the screen shown below:

PDF Has Been Created, Press 'View' To View It

Press the "View" button to view the PDF file. That's it! You've created a simple hyperlinked PDF document with a title page, descendant report, list of sources, and a name index.

To learn more, view the Ancestral Author Classic Help, and experiment with the "Options" buttons, to choose different options for your document.