Category Archives: Cookbook Design

Why Blank Pages are Important in a Family Cookbook

One of the questions we get a lot as Cookbook Publishers is “how do I remove the blank pages in my cookbook?”

It seems that when people preview their family cookbook on, they see the cover, then a blank page, then the title page, then another blank page, and so on. They want those blank pages eliminated to lower the cost of printing.

In publishing, especially cookbook publishing, a cookbook needs to be laid out in a specific way in order for the most important pages to be on the right side when the book is opened. Think about it, Whenever you open a book, the title page is the first thing you see and it is always on the right page of a two page spread. Same goes for the Introduction, Table of Contents and the section dividers.

On, if you create a preview cookbook PDF, you want to open it in your Adobe Reader program and select the option to view “Facing Pages” or “Double-up” (look under the View menu), you’ll see how the pages back up to each other.

Now with that said, there is no reason why those pages have to be blank. The inside front cover can have a family photo photo or bio of the cookbook editor. The same goes for other blank pages as well. If your introduction is one page and after it is a blank page, consider writing more, adding a photo or even making the text larger to fill up that extra space.

One benefit form using is that we provide a complete set of handy kitchen information that can be used on the back of the recipe category dividers with the touch of a button.

Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

How to Motivate Your Family Cookbook Recipe Contributors

As with any family project, getting everyone to contribute can be a challenge, especially if they have not seen the end product beforehand.

Here are some tips to keep your Family Cookbook Project contributors motivated:

The more the merrier – Be sure to include everyone, not just the great cooks. Everyone likes to be asked to participate and the more you invite, the more recipes you’ll likely get. To add contributors and send an email invitation, > Use the Invitation Tool

Set a reasonable deadline – Set the submission deadline on the “Project Information Editor” page, but don’t set it too far in the future. We all tend to put off whatever we can and contributing recipes is often one of those things. A month is usually enough time to give everyone to find the recipes they want to contribute and get them entered. Two things to remember: most of the recipes will come in just in time for the deadline and second, you can always extend the deadline if you want more recipes.

Send regular updatesUse the Reminder Tool to email some or all of your contributors on a regular basis. Remind them of the deadline and ask them to meet a specific goal, like “please add one or two recipes to each category”.

Target the biggest recipe boxes – Every family has a handful of people who are known for their cooking (you are most likely one of them in your family!). Send a personal message to them either using the remainder tool or reaching out by telephone, Facebook or with a personal visit. People are flattered when their skills are recognized. Let them know the cookbook would not be complete without their contributions.

Ask for specific recipes – Send a reminder to everyone asking for a specific recipe from your family’s past that will get everyone thinking of past gatherings. Include your memories of that dish or the person who created it. It might help remind everyone why putting together a family cookbook is important.

Use social media – As you add your own recipes to your family cookbook, it is easy to post them to Facebook or pin them to Pinterest. Sharing your recipes this way shows other family members that you are contributing and shows them they should as well.

Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

How to Take Great Food Photos for Your Recipes

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and with recipes that is especially true.

It’s wonderful to read a list of ingredients and see the potential in a recipe, but to look at the finished product can make your mouth water!

Family Cookbook Project highly recommends adding a photo to every recipe you can in your online cookbook. It helps people to see what to expect when they follow your recipe and gives them a standard to meet when comparing their finished dish to the original.

With the advent of digital camera built into cell phones, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take good food photos.

Here are some pointers to help improve your recipe photos:

Use Natural Light – Make sure that the light is right – shoot the food either next to a bright window or under a pendant light in the restaurant. Don’t use your camera’s flash! Set your dish near a window and turn off any artificial lights that might be on nearby. Try to photograph with the light at your back or to the side of a dish, so that the shadows are to the side or behind it. 

Hold Still – Taking photos inside, even with ample natural light, often means you have to hold the camera very still to keep it from registering hand shake. If you have a tripod, that’s ideal. If you don’t, you can duplicate the tripod effect by resting your elbows on the table or counter and using them to stabilize the camera. Moving the camera when taking a photo will only lead to blurry unusable photos. 

Get close to the food! – Don’t stand back three feet and get the food with the stove, the dirty dishes, and all the condiments around it. Move in and get up close and personal, and let the pan…or the plate…or the cutting board fill the frame.  

Stage the shot – The food isn’t the only thing in the photo. Using plates, silverware and linens in complementary colors can help your dish come alive. Shoot food on a beautiful plate or on a table with texture and character. The more appetizing the ingredients, the better your photo will be. Plates that contain colored vegetables and/or meat, preferably in light-colored sauces, are often the most appealing to the eye in photos. Also Don’t be Afraid of a mess. A few crumbs or a smear of dressing can be beautiful, if you let them. 

Focus on the food –  If you are using a DSLR, stop down your lens to f/1.8 or f/2.0 that limits your depth of field to one part of the image only, blurring out everything around the subject, simulating a shot taken with a macro lens. If you are using an iPhone, there are apps, such as Camera+ or VSCO Cam, that will create the same effect. Remember, you want the food to be the main focus, not the background. 

Try different angles –  Get up over the food and shoot straight down on it. When shooting overheads, if appropriate, try filling up the frame with what’s already on the table such as cups, wine glasses, utensils and moving hands. You can also  think in three dimensions, You might not usually serve brownies piled in a vertical column, but stacking any flat food, like pancakes, cookies, or even onion rings, is a great way to show off texture and make the photo more appealing. You can also add dimension to your food photos by showing the dish right after the that first bite is taken, or the second and third. These are little details that make a viewer feel like they’ve sat down and are enjoying the meal. 

Get Close to Ugly Foods  – Some foods, no matter how good they taste, just don’t make good photos. But the closer you get to your subject, the more the visual story becomes about texture and color, rather than pure mouth-watering beauty.Avoid foods that are white and gloppy, such as congealed gravy on white pasty mashed potatoes. 

Size Matters –  Make sure your camera settings are set for a good sized photo. Small photos look blurry when they are enlarged on line. A photo viewed online only has to be 72 dpi (dots per inch, the measure for quality), but if you are going to print your photo, you want it to be at least 300 dpi. 600 pixels wide (a measurement for size) is a good target for minimum photo size.

Using other’s photos – It is important to note that the Internet makes it easy to find photos of recipes already taken. While this might be much easier, the photo still is the property of whomever holds the rights. Don’t always assume that because a photo is on the Internet you can simply use it for your recipe. Make sure you ask permission from the owner before you use it.


Bill Rice takes more than 20,000 photos a year and is Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

7 Steps to Create a Perfect Family Cookbook

Creating a treasured family cookbook has never been easier.  The Great Family Cookbook Project was developed to make the process easy to understand and accomplish.

Here is an overview on the simple steps required to create a personalize family cookbook.

Step 1: Complete account set up – Here you will complete your contact information and set up some basic information like your cookbook submission deadlines for your a cookbook account.

Step 2: Invite contributors – Here you can invite friends and family members to contribute Recipes to your cookbook. If this is a personal cookbook you can skip this step.

Step 3: Start adding recipes – UN your contributors add as many recipes as you want in your cookbook.

Step 4: Send reminders to your contributors. Regular emails will help remind people to submit their recipes by the deadline.

Step 5: Design your cookbook – Here you pick a color pick a layout format and determine what will appear in your cookbook.

Step 6:  Add photos to your cookbook – Using our photo editor you can upload photos to your cookbook to specific recipes or sections.

Step 7: Get your cookbook ready to print – Once all of your recipes are entered now it is time to lock your cookbook edit the recipes and order your cookbooks.


Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!


How To Write A Great Recipe

Whether you are writing down a family favorite, starting a food blog, or entering a recipe contest, learning how to properly write a recipe is a valuable skill any food lover can use.

Here are a few standards and general rules of thumb we at suggests when it comes to writing a recipe.  It is important to accurately communicate the ingredients and process, so your recipe can be recreated by others.

Before the ingredients, comes the title, number of servings and serving size if appropriate. Then the ingredient list and the preparation directions. The final area allows you to provide helpful comments on your recipe.

Recipe Title:

  • This is the  name of your recipe using words that accurately describe the dish.  Feel free to have a little fun and make it catchy!  You want people to keep reading and be inspired to make the recipe themselves. See our post How to Write A Great Recipe Title to learn more about recipe titles.

The Ingredient List:

  • List all ingredients in order of use, as described in step-by-step instructions.
    List the most important ingredients first, if it can be consistent with order of use.
  • Spell out everything: tablespoons, ounces, etc. or use commonly accepted abbreviations which can be inserted from the drop down menu on the “Add a recipe” page.
  • If the recipe has different parts (for example, a pie has a crust and a filling), break up the ingredient list with headings such as “Crust” and “Filling” using the multi-part recipe option on your “Add a recipe” page.
  • When several ingredients are used at the same time (in the case of baking, often all the dry ingredients are sifted or mixed together at once), list them in descending order according to volume. If there is an issue over preparation, list in order, so for example if you need the zest and juice of a lemon, list the zest first and then the juice since that is the order you will do the preparation.
  • Do not use two numbers together. You need to set off the second number in parenthesis. This comes up with sizes of packages. For example, “1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese.”
  • If an ingredient begins with a letter instead of a number, freshly ground black pepper, for example, capitalize the first letter, as in “Freshly ground black pepper.”
  • If the preparation of an ingredient is simple, place that technique in the ingredient list, as in “2 eggs, beaten” or “1 stick butter, softened.”
  • If an ingredient is used more than once in a recipe, list the total amount at the place in the ingredient list where it is first used, then add “divided.” In the method part of the recipe, indicated the amount used at each step. For example “1 cup all-purpose flour, divided” then in the method “Sift 3/4 cup of the flour with the…” and later “Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour on top of…”
  • Use generic names of ingredients (semi-sweet chocolate chips, not “Tollhouse chips”.


  • Where helpful, indicate the size of bowls and cookware. For example, “In a large mixing bowl….”
  • You do not have to write complete sentences. Be as short and concise as possible.
  • With instructions for the stove-top, indicate level of heat. For example, “Simmer over low heat.”
  • State exact or approximate cooking times, with descriptive hints for doneness, if appropriate. For example, “Sear 1 minute on each side,” and “Bake 18-22 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.”
  • As in the ingredient list, if there are different elements to the recipe, as with the crust and filling of a pie, separate out each element in the method. Begin with the crust and write a header “For the Crust” and give the method. Then do “For the Filling” and give filling instructions. This is done automatically using the multi-part recipe option at
  • Separate each step into a different paragraph. If you are mixing dry ingredients in a bowl, for example, use one paragraph for all the instructions for that step.
  • Finish with serving instructions including how to plate, what temperature to serve, how to garnish.
  • The last instruction can be regarding storage, if applicable. For a cookie recipe, for example, “Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days.”


  • Use this area to communicate anything additional information someone would need to know to recreate your recipe at home.
  • You can also offer ideas for alternate ingredients, tips, or serving suggestions.
  • You also can use this area to tell a story about this recipe and the meal that is was introduced to the family.
  • Source your recipes in the comments field. If you got your inspiration from a magazine or cookbook, or lift a recipe from a blog or website, you should give them credit.  This goes for recipe photos as well.  Never use images without the owners consent.
  • Especially if you are posting your recipe online, it is important to include the name, source and webpage of the original recipe. State if the recipe is “Adapted from”: Which means you made minor changes to ingredients and/or preparation technique. or “Inspired from”: Which means you used the stated recipe as a guide or inspiration for your own recipe which may include some of the same ingredients and techniques.
  • Food bloggers:  If you are sharing a recipe from your own blog, this field is a great place to put in a link back to your site!

Time and Servings:

  • Preparation time includes all the measuring, chopping and other preparation of ingredients.
  • Cooking time refers to the total time the food takes to cook, including any preliminary cooking needed.
  • Remember, these times are just a guide for the reader.  Try to be generous with the timing, someone making the recipe for the first time will take longer that you who has experience making it.
  • Also, include the number of servings based on reasonable portions.


  • Try to include a photo of the finished product. There is nothing better for people to see the food they are about to prepare that what it will look like when complete.
  • A popular trend today is to create videos of yourself making the recipe. Remember to pause the camera or to cut extra footage so the final video is not too long to watch.



Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

It’s Easy to Follow Family Cookbook Project on Social Media

Family Cookbook Project is not simply a cookbook Publisher, it’s a community where individuals and families gather and share recipes and food memories.

We have created a system that makes it easy to gather and publish your family food traditions. However we also try to give valuable advice on how to make your cookbook better, how to create better recipes and even how to better understand cooking.

There are many ways to learn how to build a better cookbook. Here are just some of the ways you can follow us on social media.


Follow us on Facebook to get interesting recipes from our editors, ideas to improve your cookbook and general cooking tips.

We also have specific pages created for barbecue recipes and cookie recipes, be sure to follow those pages if they are of interest.


Cooking and recipes are one of the largest categories being shared on Pinterest today and Family Cookbook Project has 18 different boards filled with great recipes and cooking tips and ways to improve your cookbook. Some of the more interesting recipe categories include Food Guys Like, Recipes from Around the World, Let-us Eat Salad, Big Shrimp Recipes and even What’s for Breakfast.


Family Cookbook Project has just created its Instagram account and will be sharing recipes and tips on this platform as well.


If you don’t follow any of the other social media platforms then you will find us at Twitter with the same great information. Follow the hashtag #familycookbookproject


Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

How to Write A Great Recipe Title

Your recipe title is the single most important element of your recipe. This is because your title is a headline, and the headline in any type of content has one special and powerful property.

Think about how you read a cookbook looking for a recipe to try.  You don’t start in the front and read every page like a novel then pick the one you want. No, you scan the pages looking for a photo or recipe title that catches your eye and looks interesting!

Of all the elements in your recipe, the title has the greatest power for grabbing your readers’ attention and the greatest responsibility for enticing them to continue and read your recipe It follows that the better your title, the higher the chance of turning a recipe scanner into a recipe reader (and ultimately a recipe user).

For a recipe title to be effective it needs to consider several things:

Grab Attention – Like any headline you need to grab the readers attention.

Describe the food being prepared – “Gruel” is one of my son’s favorite dishes, however it no one outside the family knows what it is. Including the main ingredient of the dish and even how it us prepared make the title more useful. “Baked Hamburger Gravy” would be a more descriptive title for our gruel.

Be different and unique – If you have seen the recipe title before, it does not belong on your recipe!

Include the source – In family cookbooks, certain people are associated with certain recipes. Grandma’s Apple Pie or Lou’s Lemon Bars help the reader image exactly what dish you are referring to. It just does not help anyone who is not at family gatherings!

Sell the sizzle as well as the steak – This means to highlight the benefit, the reason why this recipe is worth making.

Recipe titles that address cooking and eating needs are more likely to seduce the reader into the recipe itself. A good title clearly shows the reader which of their cooking and eating needs the recipe addresses. Every readers’ need is different. For example, it could be for something indulgent or something low fat, or something quick and easy or something sophisticated and thus involved, or something refined or something rustic.

Consider the following recipe titles: ‘Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, ‘Quick ‘n’ Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, ‘Grandma’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies’, ‘Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies’. Notice how each title addresses a different need and even appeals to different audiences. Quite simply, as the chocolate chip cookie examples show, it’s all down to the words you choose for your title.

With a little thought and imagination, your recipe titles can stand out and make your readers give your recipes the attention they deserve.

Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

Cookbooks for Kids

One of the reasons we works so hard on a family cookbook is to preserve our favorite recipes for future generations. It is equally important to help that next generation develop a love of good food and cooking at an early age. That is why Family Cookbook Project created a simple cookbook just for the kids in your life.

Kids Cookbook Project lets you create your own customized cookbook for the special little one in your life. Simply enter your  child’s name and choose boy or girl and immediately preview them in their own special personalized Cookbook! We will then print your full color customized, personalized kids cookbook. It’s just $24.95.

Keep Kids Interested in Reading …put them in the story! Every child loves a story. A good story helps them to explore their imagination. A great story has them as the main character and holds their interest in reading. That’s what we do! …Kids Cookbook Project makes great stories about children with your child as the main character. And we make it easy and simple to do …as simple as 1-2-3.

As the holiday’s approach, this would make a great personalized gift for the youngsters in your life. To learn more and to order. visit Kids Cookbook Project.



Bill Rice is Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

The Easiest Way to Preserve Family Recipes

Family members may look unrelated, live in different areas, even have different political views. But even the most diverse family can be united by love of their family’s unique food traditions.

Until now, the tradition of the family cookbook has often been handwritten on note cards, hastily scribbled on napkins during family gatherings or jotted in lovingly preserved notebooks, yellowed with age. Like everything else it touches, the Internet is revolutionizing family-recipe gathering.

“Food is an integral part of who we are as individuals, as members of society and as members of groups within that society,” says Bill Rice, founder of the Family Cookbook Project, a Web site that helps thousands of families compile their favorite recipes and publish their own cookbooks. “From Aunt Edna’s pot roast to Grandma’s special pecan pie, family recipes create common ground and wonderful shared memories.”

The Family Cookbook Project uses proprietary software to help budding cookbook authors compile, edit and organize their family’s recipes online. By creating an account at, users can send an invitation e-mail to family members asking them to contribute favorite recipes for the book.

Family members then sign on to the “editor’s” account and enter their information, eliminating the laborious process of collecting and re-keying recipes. Once all contributions are in, the editor then uses the site’s software to edit and organize the cookbook. Editors can choose from a variety of personalized covers and divider pages for their spiral-bound book.

The cost of creating a family cookbook is just $19.95 for up to 10 contributors or $29.95 for an unlimited number of family contributors, plus the cost of printing. With a low minimum print quantity of just 50 books, families print and many cookbooks as they need and give others as gifts..

“Although some of our more enterprising editors sell their family cookbooks on eBay,” Rice points out.

To get started compiling your family’s recipes and publishing your own family cookbook, visit


Bill Rice is founder and Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories through customized printed cookbooks filled with treasured recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

Cookbook Printing in 8.5″ x 11″ now available from Family Cookbook Project

For many years, Family Cookbook Project has been helping individuals and families create and print wonderful cookbooks in the traditional 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch size. However, every once and awhile we get asked “how about an 8 1/2″ x 11″ size printed cookbook?”

After a lot of programming and work with our printers, we can now offer full sized 8 1/2″ x 11″ printed cookbooks that use all of our available professionally designed covers and layouts.

From Layout & Design you can click for cookbook size on the main options, and if you click Binders on the additional options, it shows there, as well.  Once a size is set, all previews/downloads show your cookbook in that size.  This is also helpful for those of you that want to print on your own to your home printer on full size paper!

The cost per cookbook will be higher that the traditional sized cookbook because of the increased paper costs. However the Printing Cost Calculator has been updated to show the pricing for both printed size options.