Publishing needs are universal—here are publishing solutions that yield professional results, without the need for hiring professionals
SoHos have publishing needs that have no end—brochures, fliers, bulletins, business cards—the list just goes on and on. Saving money is what SoHos swear by in order to stay competitive, and we’re here to tell you just how to get it done.
Desktop publishing is the need of the day, and many SoHos are outsourcing their requirements. Why? Because even though their desktop publishing may not require the professional touch of an agency, the software that is used to achieve professional looking results will cost them an arm and two legs! Quark Express 7—about Rs 32,000! Adobe InDesign CS3—almost Rs 28,000! There’s no way most SoHos can justify such expenses, especially for occasional publishing needs. That’s where free and open source software comes in, and all you have to do is look around to find one that suits you. We found PagePlus SE (www.freeserifsoftware.com) and Scribus (www.scribus.net) to be the best free desktop publishing software—you can find both in this month’s CD.
Look Before You Leap
All creative work needs planning. Before you search for software, you need to identify your requirements. Whether it’s a brochure you need to make, a flier, or a self-designed visiting card, before you do anything else, sit down with a pencil and paper and try and plan out what you want to achieve. This holds true for any sort of desktop publishing you may have—plan, arrange, execute!
Frame a mental picture of the most appropriate layout of text and images—this aids in faster execution of the task at hand. Go hunting for the best images to suit your requirement—use Google to find royalty-free images, or buy one from one of the many services that offer them. TIFF or PNG images with a resolution of 200 DPI or higher are generally preferred, because although images may seem alluring on your computer screen, results differ once they are printed.
Take The Plunge
Of the two software solutions we mentioned earlier—Scribus and PagePlus SE—we prefer PagePlus: firstly, because it’s extremely user friendly, and secondly, because it gives you more useful tools. Scribus, on the other hand, is too intimidating for a beginner in layout.
PagePlus is a flexible and effective solution. After you’ve installed the software, and before you begin designing, say, your business card, you need to make sure everything is organised. Gather all the relevant text and images—including your company logo—in a specific folder. Use this as your project folder. Now you can start by launching PagePlus.
The first task is to help you design your very own professional-looking business card. To do this, you need to follow some simple steps in PagePlus.
PagePlus’ toolbars explained
The Right Layout
- Once you launch PagePlus, select the option to Create my own design. In the Choose a Design window, select Small Publications > Wide Business Card. Wide Business Cards are Landscape-oriented, while Tall Business Cards are Portrait-oriented.
- Before you start work on the card, in order to be certain that you view all the available tools, click on View > Toolbars and check all the toolbars.
The Business Card
- The blue rectangle that you can see in the middle of the page is to guide you while aligning the text and images. Similar to a grid in the background, it helps you decide the appropriate position of the various elements in the card.
- Start by inserting your company logo. To do this, go to Insert > Picture > From file (or you can simply press [Ctrl] [G]).
- To insert text for your business card, click on the Artistic Text Tool (the alphabet “A”) on the Tools toolbar. Alternatively, you can insert text from any file by clicking on Insert > Text File (or simply pressing [Ctrl] [T]). You can further adjust the font size, height, width, line spacing and positioning through the Change toolbar.
- Each text or image component forms a box that you can easily move around the page, either by dragging with the mouse or using the cursor keys.
- After inserting all relevant image and text, our next step is to insert a separator, which is a line towards the bottom of that card, separating the address of the company. To insert a line, click on the Straight Line Tool. You will find this tool just below the artistic text tool. After selecting this tool, click on one end of the intended position and drag the mouse to the other end forming a straight line. You can adjust the position of the line by using the up and down cursor keys.
- In the same way, insert the address of your organisation and proceed to view your card by doing a Print Preview.
Create professional business cards at leisure with PagePlus
Booklets, Brochures, Fliers And Pamphlets
The brochure we are going to design has four printed sides, created out of a single A4-sized paper. When printed on both sides and folded into half, it yields four pages.
- Similar to the procedure that we followed for the business card, after launching PagePlus, start by clicking on Create My Own Design. In the Choose a Design window, select Folded Publications > Books/Booklets. Select Side Fold Booklet and hit the Finish button.
- Click on the Pages tab of the Studio toolbar located on the right, to see a snapshot of all the four sides. Only one sheet of paper can be used to form the four page booklet.
- To the right of the screen, you can see four sheets of paper laid out as portrait. However, do not confuse these to be four individual sheets of papers. These are the four halves of the two sides of a single A4 sheet.
- Insert your title with appropriate fonts and size for emphasis. For your logo, follow the same procedure that we followed while preparing the business card—Insert > Picture > From File. Alternatively, you can click on the Import Picture button on the Tools toolbar. Drag the image to its appropriate size by viewing its dimensions on the Change toolbar. You can also directly type in the dimensions in the Change toolbar to adjust the image appropriately.
- Double-click on Page 2 of 4. This opens a fresh page in the work area. You can still see a preview of Page 1 in the studio area on the right of the screen. Continue adding your text and images on this page. Generally, in most brochures, this is where the density of information increases. Hence, to make it really easier, to insert significant amount of text, click on Insert > Text file or simply press [Ctrl] [T], if you are more comfortable with keyboard shortcuts for faster results.
- Continue working on Page 3 and Page 4 in the same way. Once you are done with your work, we recommend that you periodically save using good old [Ctrl] [S].
You can easily design letterheads in a similar manner
to creating a business card
Associated Office Stationery
We have created a business card and now a booklet that you can use either as a flier, a bulletin or even a brochure for your product. You’ll likely have a lot of mailing requirements, and as a result also require envelopes and address labels.
You get a preview of the other pages on the right
Customised address labels have great appeal. For example, your logo on the address labels or the envelopes of your letters creates the impression of professionalism when compared to a handwritten address, or one that is simply typed out.
- After launching PagePlus, select Use Downloaded Designs.
- In the Choose a Design window, go to Business Stationery > Envelopes > DL.
- With an envelope in the main work area, click on the Design tab of the Studio toolbar. Here, you can see a form containing fields such as Company, Address, Phone and other contact details. Fill in all the essential details here.
- These data fields are appropriately displayed on the face of the envelope.
- You can also change the background images, if they do not appeal to you. You can delete the earlier picture by selecting it and hitting the delete button. You can also replace it with a newer image.
- Similarly, for the address labels, click on Create my own design > Small Publications > Avery Labels. Select among the options given and hit the Finish button.
- Working on this is similar to the documents we have worked on so far—Insert Text then Insert Image!
We’ve dealt with the most common office publishing needs in this article, which should make other publications easier for you. For example, a letterhead is a single A4 sheet of paper. You can easily design one by keeping the layout similar to the business card, with the logo on top of the page followed with a separator. You can place blanks to provide Date and Ref on either side of the page. Finally, a separator and the address at the bottom of the page, and you are done with a professional letterhead.
Time to start publishing!