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Have you ever tried InDesign? It is fantastic. I have been using an old Desktop Publishing program, Adobe Page Maker (hereafter referred to as PM), and wanted to upgrade to something more current (PM did not support PNG files or PDF files, because they came out after the version of PM 6.5 I was using). I was told that many UGs use Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect to do their newsletters. Both are very good Word Processing (WP) programs, but if editors have ever used a real Desktop Publishing (DTP) program, they will never go back to a Word Processing program for publishing a newsletter. The Desktop Publishing programs from those two manufacturers are Microsoft® Office Publisher 2007 and Corel Ventura 10. But since I was familiar with the Adobe approach to Desktop Publishing, I decided to use InDesign (hereafter referred to as ID). The latest version is in CS3, but I am using the CS2 version. ID has some aspects that were in PM, as well as some from FrameMaker, another DTP program Adobe bought.
This article has some aspects of a product review, but it is not intended to be a complete review of InDesign. Rather my objective is to show Editors the advantages of using a true DTP program over a WP program in the publishing of their newsletters, as well as sharing some of the tricks I picked up as I learned InDesign.
On the right side of this page, as well as on the right side of my ID screen, there is a movable vertical toolbox, similar to what PM had, and also similar to what Photoshop and Illustrator have. Some tab tools called palettes which you can click to pop out, and click again to stow them back. You can also pull the palettes out and put them on a second monitor, if you have one, or keep them together wherever you want them. I generally keep the ones I use the most on top of each other in a minimized (collapsed) form
InDesign allows you to set up paragraph styles (text frames) and object styles (graphic frames) for all aspects of your publication: title, author credits, body copy, headings, etc. When you “place” (import) an external document, whether from another InDesign file, or from a Microsoft Word, it brings along type style information from that document. That is nice, because if you want you can modify parts of it, and leave parts unchanged, but you can quickly end up with Normal, Normal (Web), Heading, Heading3, etc. Which one did I create, and which ones came in with something I brought in? ID lets you name your styles, and it lists them in alphabetical order, so if you name all the ones you create with an underscore (“_”) as the first character, all of yours will be at the top of the list.
Many newspapers start several articles on the front page, and just have a few paragraphs of the article, and then say it is continued on some interior page. This can definitely be overused, forcing the reader to jump from page to page following an article through the publication, but it can definitely be useful for the front page at least, and I decided to try it for this publication. One thing to be careful of, is if you just put the “continued on” line in the body of your copy, and if a proofreader calls for you to add a few words in the article, suddenly the “continued on” item can be swept over to the continued page. And what if you have an article on page 1 continued on page 5, and then you decide to insert two pages between pages 3 and 4, the article is now continued on page 7.
InDesign handles all of that automatically for you. You put your “continued on” (and “continued from”) lines in separate frames, so they stay on the pages they are put on, and Type/Insert Special Character/Next Page Number (or Previous Page Number) automatically handles the calculation of the page number (so if you insert two pages between page 3 and 4, it recomputes the next page number). If you put them in predetermined frames, and make use of paragraph styles AND object styles, you can make sure that “continued on” indicators are aligned with the bottom and right side of their frame, and “continued from” indicators are aligned with the top and left side of their frame. I set up a couple of these, and then copy them to make multiples that are all alike, and put them on the “desktop” (the part of the document outside the page boundaries).
Notice how when they are on my desktop the page number is shown as a cryptic “PB”, but that the lines are left and top, or bottom and right aligned. If I drag one of them over to page 1, just below the frame where the article is continued onto page 5, it shows as “continued on page 1”.
Don’t worry about that, because as I move it up so that the frame just touches (or overlaps) the other frame, it immediately changes to page 5.
And I can select both frames and Object/Group them and they will stay together just as they are, and if I add any text to the article, any extra will flow over to the continued page. If I move that continued portion to another page, or if I insert additional pages, the page number automatically corrects. Can you do that in a Word Processing program?
Adobe has some excellent help files, but sometimes they are not enough. When I began learning InDesign I had more than 10 years experience with Adobe PageMaker. I knew that product backwards and forwards, and I could make it do just about anything I wanted. I have a good friend from the Tulsa Computer Society, Paula Sanders, who has been working with Adobe products for longer than I have used Page Maker (Adobe frequently links to her product reviews of their products). Paula was trying to learn the differences between InDesign in CS2 and InDesign in CS3 for a review she was doing on Creative Suite 3. Each of us had a couple of InDesign Books (different books, so between us we had 4 books). Each of us had over 10 years experience in slightly different areas, but where one’s experience should have supplemented the gaps in the other’s knowledge, and yet on several instances we came up with something neither of us could figure out. But there was a solution. Adobe has a large number of User to User forums on their website, and we would go there to pose questions neither of us could answer.
We each found things we could not figure out from the help files and our books, but that is what User Groups are for, isn’t it, and when we came across something neither of us could figure out, the Adobe User to User forums were invaluable.
If you are publishing your newsletter with a Word Processor like Microsoft Word or Corel Word Perfect, I strongly urge you to try Microsoft® Office Publisher 2007, Corel Ventura 10, or Adobe InDesign. It may take you a little while to learn it, but get a couple of good books on the product. Also ask in your UG if anyone uses it, and avail yourself of the help available on the internet. You will quickly find you can control so much more about your publication when you use a real Desktop Publishing Program.