Creating a Portrait Index

In order to flow portraits onto pages in Pictavo, a compatible portrait database needs to be loaded to the program. The portrait database actually contains two things: a folder that contains portraits and a text file that contains information matching names to specific portrait files.

If you are not provided a compatible portrait database, there are three options available to get portraits onto page layouts.

  1. Use a spreadsheet program that is capable of saving tab delimited text files to create the index file outside of Pictavo.
  2. Create the database directly within Pictavo – uploading each portrait and then entering the portrait information one by one.
  3. Upload and place the portrait images as candid images and manually place a text box underneath each one. This is the least desired option, due to the amount of time and attention to detail that would be involved. This is really only a viable option for a school with a very small student body or very few portraits to place.


Generally speaking, putting in the work of creating a database text file will deliver the most efficient result. This article will help you create the index file in a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel®, that is capable of saving tab delimited text files. 


In this article, the screen shots will show Microsoft Excel, but you may use any program capable of saving tab delimited text files.

Begin by opening a new spreadsheet.

In this spreadsheet, each row will represent a single person or portrait in the database and each column will represent one of the five fields (First Name, Last Name, Image File Name, Grade, and/or Teacher).
Note: You only need a Grade or Teacher; you are not required to have both. However, it may be helpful to have both especially for combined K-12 schools where the younger grades may flow by homeroom and the upper classmen may flow by grade.

Create the spreadsheet with the columns in this order:

Column A: Image File Name
Column B: First Name
Column C: Last Name
Column D: Grade
Column E: Teacher

In the example below, the student John Erickson (B &C) is in fifth (D) grade, in Mr. Jackson’s (E) homeroom, and his picture is called 06934.JPG (A). Details are organized into columns A-E as indicated above.

The image file name must be an exact match of the file name and extension. For example, if the image file is named “001.JPEG”, Pictavo will not be able to find and import the image if you enter “1.JPEG”, 001.JPG”, “001.jpg” or “001.jpeg” into the spreadsheet.

Create each person in the database individually and make sure that all the necessary columns contain the correct information. A finished spreadsheet will look similar to the one pictured below. Make sure to save your file on a regular basis! This is a labor intensive process and no one wants to do it twice.

When all information has been entered, save the final document in two different places so there is a backup.

Click Save As and choose the file type Text (.txt, tab delimited). Save this file in the same folder the portrait images are in.
Note: If the portraits are on a disc, move them to your computer into the same folder as the index file just created.

Select this file when uploading your portrait database.  You'll find instructions to upload portraits here