Pick, Choose, Publish!

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2006
 
Pick, Choose, Publish!
The trials and tribulations of setting up your own enterprise are many. Even after the actual establishment, there remain niggling issues. Information needs to be spread, customers need to be brought in, and you still need to decide on your corporate identity-visiting cards, letterheads-the list is long.

To get the professional look you desire for your  promotional material, you would normally turn to high-end (read expensive) software such as Quark XPress or Adobe InDesign. You would then need to spend long hours learning how to use the software, and some more long hours designing your publication. And if you need quick results, you might even need to hire a professional. Oh, the financial horror!

Thrifty businesspeople, though, would use Microsoft Word to publish their material. It's taken for granted that every new PC comes with Word, and it even offers a few respectable features that can help you design your publication. However, as the name suggests, it is at the end of the day a word processor, and can only do so much before it has you seeking different kind of professional help.

The middle ground, then, would be a package that can create a professional-looking publication swiftly and without added investment. Coming through in this hour of need is Microsoft Publisher 2003, which now comes bundled with your installation of Microsoft Office 2003. It offers a handy collection of tools to get your publication out as quickly and painlessly as possible.


Publisher offers a huge collection of templates to suit your every mood


Keep the kids out of your hair with the instructions for a paper plane

Pick Me! Pick Me!
The philosophy of Publisher is to minimise the time between your realising that you need a publication and actually having it in your hand. It offers templates for nearly all the print material you might ever need-letterheads, visiting cards, brochures, catalogues, flyers, advertisements, banners, greeting cards… whew!

For the restaurateur, there are templates for menus, take-out menus, and even wine lists. There are even a few whimsical templates, such as folding instructions for paper airplanes! Not content with print media, Publisher also offers templates for basic Web sites and e-mails. All you need to do is pick one and tweak it to your needs. And, if you aren't happy with the templates Publisher provides download more from Microsoft Office Online.


The Master Sets let you select a common theme for all your documents

With You All The Way
If you need a common theme to run through all your material, turn to Publisher's Design Sets. Depending on what you're looking for, design sets offer you sets of templates.

Consider the case of The Little PR Firm. One of their clients needs to organise an event to launch their new product. The Little PR Firm has to set up a Web site and send flyers and invitations for the event. If they're using Publisher, all they need to do is look up the "Special Event" design set-there are template sets for Web sites, brochures and invitations just waiting to be used. One step further is the star of this show-the Master Set that has templates for everything from calendars to purchase orders and invoices.

Beautifying Your Phonebook
If you use Excel or Access to organise your data, but are bored of plain old tables, Publisher offers  some relief. One of Publisher's smartest features is its ability to integrate with data sources such as Access databases and Excel sheets. Use the Mail and Catalog Wizard to pick your data source, and apply a template to present the data. You'll soon see your customer database in your brand new "customer details" publication.
Look Here!
Another highlight of Publisher's template-driven approach is the Design Gallery. It offers frequently-used items such as feedback forms, coupons and labels that you can insert into your publication. You can also add a healthy dose of zing using accents, pull-quotes (blurbs with interesting quotes), and our favourite, the Attention Grabber-'Unbeatable Prices!'


Use the design gallery (above) for some neat attention grabbers (left)

To The Presses!
After designing your publication, Publisher  helps ensure that all is hunky-dory when you finally go to print. The first is the Design Checker that checks for data that's outside the page, hidden or overflowing text, even pictures that have been distorted upon resizing. Once Design Checker deems your publication safe for printing, use the Commercial Printing Tools to adjust your colours.


(Above) The Design checker will tell you what's wrong with your publication. (Right) Use the Commercial Printing tools before finally going to print

Also embed the fonts you use, this way, even if your printer doesn't have these fonts on the PC, your publication won't be affected.

Beyond Print
Establishing a presence in print is not really enough for today's businesses-the word must be spread, and the Internet is just the way to do that. Publisher also offers a number of templates for a basic Web site that would tell your customers about you. The best way is the Easy Website Builder, which lets you specify exactly what your site will contain.


Creating a Web site is a snap with the Easy Website Creator in Publisher

Publisher also offers HTML templates for e-mail messages, be it to inform your audience of an upcoming event, a new addition to your product or services list, or just general correspondence.

So Is It For Me?
Despite all its advantages, using Publisher isn't entirely a bed of roses. While it's all very well to lay out a few pages of text, the autoflow feature is rather eccentric. If your publication is more than a few pages long, it will be an uphill task! You cannot directly manipulate the HTML code in your Web page. Publisher isn't capable of much beyond what you can do using its wizards. It is best for its wide choice of templates that make your publication process quick and easy, but it won't make professionals happy just yet.



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