Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher was originally created as an easy-to-use program for business and home users to produce business cards, newsletters, and brochures. Since then, Microsoft Publisher version 2002 has grown into a full-featured business publishing program that allows you to mix and match designs, colors, and fonts to create effective, professional documents, marketing materials, Web pages, and more.
This article gives you some ideas for making the most of your time with Publisher. But remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Take some time to play around with Publisher's features when you get the chance. You may save yourself some design costs—and have some fun.

Start with the end in mind

First things first. What kind of publication are you creating? If you are planning on producing a document you will print—business cards, newsletters, brochures, or reports—you need to think about the following things:
What colors do you want to use? Do you need to work with colors that fit an existing scheme your company uses?
Which fonts do you need? If your company documents use Times Roman or something funkier like Avant Garde, you will probably want to use those fonts to keep things consistent with existing documents (unless you're totally revamping the look).
What kind of graphics do you want to use? Publisher includes lots of clip art you are free to use—and there's more on the Web. And you can always use digital images you've captured or taken yourself. (Remember, however, that using images someone else created without their permission is a violation of copyright law.)
How will you be producing the document? Publisher gives you the option of printing documents on your desktop printer or preparing them for a commercial printing service. If you have an outside service you like to use, talk with them early in the process to learn how they prefer to receive and work with electronic files. Learn more about preparing your document for commercial printing.

Experiment with Publisher

Ideally, the scenario goes like this: You make a fresh pot of coffee, get an extra large mug, and head off to your office to close the door and hang out the "Busy—do not disturb" sign for the rest of the morning. Then you can sit down and play with all the features in Publisher 2002 until you know which design, color scheme, and font scheme you like and you have an inspiring idea about how you want to fit them all together.
But, because most of us rarely work in ideal circumstances, reality is probably more like this: Your boss appears in the doorway holding the Publisher CD and a stack of loose papers, saying "I need you to create a department newsletter I can hand out at the company meeting tomorrow. Here's a program to do it with. See you later!"
What's most important to know about Publisher?
It's easy—you can make the deadline, whether that's 30 minutes or 30 days away.
It includes design schemes and elements you can use in the documents you create, which means you can rely on the design sense of experts to create an effective look.
It allows you to prepare files for a commercial printer or print easily right at your desktop. Learn more about preparing your document for commercial printing.
You can easily create publications for your department that have the same look and feel, using the same color and font selections and logo on every piece, from business cards to corporate reports. Learn more about creating a consistent identity.
And in this world of Internet everything, you can turn your Publisher document into a Web page with a few simple clicks of the mouse.

Use Publisher templates

I think the single best thing about Publisher is that it comes packed with so many helpful items that you can produce a professional-quality document the first time you use it. When you use Publisher's Quick Documents (see Figure 1), you can choose from a huge selection of ready-made document designs. You simply click the one you want and plug in your own text and graphics. It's easy, and you have the comfort of knowing that the document was designed by people who design documents for a living.Fig. 1: Screen shot showing the templates available in Publisher
You can also use:
Design Gallery Live, a huge collection of pre-designed elements (letterhead, logos, web buttons, borders, pull-quotes, and much more) you can insert in your documents.
Color Schemes, pre-selected color groupings that work together well in documents
Font Schemes, collections of fonts that look good together in publications
WordArt, a feature that allows you to stylize text for special headlines, design effects, and more. You can find WordArt on the Objects toolbar.

Automatically insert personal information

The first time you launch Publisher and select a document to create, the Personal Information dialog box appears, giving you the option of entering information about your business that you can insert in your Publisher documents. For example, a business address is used over and over again on standard business publications. Learn more about how to insert personal information.

Choose a color scheme

When you enter your business information in the Personal Information dialog box, you have the option of choosing a color scheme for all the publications you create. This is a great, time-saving (and safe-guarding) feature if you publish multiple documents with a similar look-and-feel. If the blue on your logo is Atlantic Blue, for example, you don't want it to print on some documents as Robin's Egg Blue instead. Choosing a color scheme that Publisher can apply consistently can help you guard against color problems.
To choose a color scheme:
In the Personal Information task bar, click Color scheme.
Click the down-arrow to display a list of available color schemes. See Figure 2.
Click your choice. Publisher then saves the color scheme you selected. Fig. 2: Screen showing displaying some color schemes in Publisher
To change the color scheme for individual documents, click Color Schemes in the Quick Publication Offers task pane (see Figure 3) while you are working on a document.Fig. 3: Screen shot showing the Color Schemes option in the Quick Publication Offers task pane

Insert information from several sources

So where will you get the data to use in your publications?
Copy and paste text from other Office documents.
Type it into the document.
Dictate it into your machine.
Gather it from e-mail messages you've received.
Copy it from the company Web site.
All of the above.
If you're like most of us, the answer is "All of the above" and you are gathering information from many different sources. Publisher, as part of Office, can accept input in just about any form you want to provide it.
To import a document from Microsoft Word, for example, on the File menu, click Import Word Document. You can also copy and paste blocks of text from other Office programs. You can add a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or use a Microsoft Access database for your mail merge projects.
Speech recognition features in Publisher allow you to literally command the program with your voice and dictate text to be entered. Learn more about using Speech Recognition in Publisher and Office XP.

Add graphics

Most of the documents you create in Publisher will have some sort of graphics element—whether that's a company logo, a simple divider line on a Web page, fancy Web buttons, an ornate page number, or a full-color photo or image to illustrate your point. You can add graphics quickly by following these steps:
On the Insert menu, select Picture, and click Clip Art.
Enter a keyword reflecting the item you would like to see.
Click Search. The pieces of art that match the item you entered appear in the task pane.
Click the art you want to add to put it in your publication.

Take advantage of white space

One common mistake people often make in publishing their own documents is that they try to cram too much information on a page. Think of things you enjoy reading. Chances are that there's plenty of white space on the page; the headings are large enough to recognize and stand out in some way—either through the use of boldface or color (or both). The text of the document is spaced in such a way that it "hangs together"—that is, your eyes can easily move from one paragraph to the next without jumping around the page.
The white space along the margins actually serves a very important purpose, whether you're producing a newsletter, a resume, a business letter, or a report. The white space gives the readers' eyes a rest and helps them focus on the document content. If you run the text of your publication all the way to the margins of the page, readers are going to get tired and give up.

Keep your designs uncluttered

A common trap for new publishers comes as a result of the many interesting design elements Publisher includes. So many to choose from! You could add a letterhead design from the Design Gallery, a color and font scheme, Word Art, AutoShapes, Clip Art, and other design elements.
But a word to the wise: A little design goes a long way. Choose your fonts carefully—no more than two or three in a document, tops—and select only the design elements you really need. With so many to choose from, it's easy to overdo it. But remember that your main goal is to get people to read your document, so understated and simple is the safest approach for the masses.

Reuse your favorite design elements

If you really like a design you've created in Publisher, you can easily save it to use in other documents. If you create a logo, letterhead, or other design element you like, you can save it to the Design Element Gallery so that you can reuse it later.
In the Insert menu, click Add Selection to Design Gallery.
In the Add Object dialog box (see Figure 5), enter a name and category for the object.
Click OK. Fig. 5: Screen shot of the Add Object dialog box
The object will be made available in the Design Gallery. To display the Design Gallery, on the Insert menu, click Design Gallery Object. Click the Your Objects tab to find designs you have created.
Whatever you create in Publisher—from valentines to trifold brochures—you can make it easy on yourself by relying on the power and expert designs built into the program. With just the right mix of color, layout, style, and text, you can create publications that are sure to get a second look.
Katherine Murray, author of Faster, Smarter Office XP (Microsoft Press, 2002), has written more than 40 computer books (and a number of parenting books) on topics ranging from general computer use to more specialized books on presentation graphics, Internet use, and Web animation. For the last 14 years, Katherine has owned and operated reVisions Plus, Inc., a writing and publishing services company that relies on Word as the program of choice. Learn more about Katherine in her biography and her online journal, BlogofficeXP.


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