Amateur Publishing Software

desktop publishing programsThe so-called 'amateur' publishing software was once restricted to in-house publications, community newsletters and publications with simple layouts. That is no longer the case. The better programs can give the professional DTP packages a good run for their money. Many publishers, for example, use InDesign for big projects but Serif Page Plus for their bread-and-butter work. Much depends on the client, and your printing company. If a document is to be shuttled around between prepress departments and printing companies (which happens, though very rarely) then you're better off with an industry standard like InDesign. You'll not be charged for so-called 'conversion work'. But most printers are happy with a simple PDF document, and that requirement is amply met by Serif Page Plus and other amateur publishing software packages.

A brief comparison of the better-known software:

 

Print Artist

Page Plus

Print Shop Pro

MS Publisher

Print Shop

general templates

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

catalogue templates

yes

no

no

yes

no

cover templates

no

no

yes

yes

yes

colour correction

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

frames

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

cmyk editing

yes

yes

no

yes

no

pantone matching

yes

yes

no

yes

no

fonts supplied

1000+

300

800

200

600

picture insertion in text

yes

yes

no

yes

no

text to curve fitting

yes

yes

no

no

no

text wrap

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

transparency/gradient

yes

yes

no

yes

no

spell check

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

colour separation

yes

yes

no

yes

no

print alignment

yes

yes

yes

no

yes

PDF/Postscript output

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

overall grading*

8

7

6

6

6

ease of use*

8

8

6

8

6

project organization*

8

7

7

8

6

graphics tools*

8

8

7

6

7

text tools*

8

7

6

6

6

printing*

8

7

6

6

6

support*

8

7

7

6

6

retail price (US$)

50

100

80

140

50

 

Desktop Publishing in MS Word

Many Print on Demand companies will accept a manuscript in MS Word format, and some DIY authors go the extra mile by first using Word or a similar package for typesetting to a near-professional standard, converting the Word file to a PDF format with free or proprietary software, and then selling the eBook themselves on the Internet. The recommended steps for typesetting in Word are:

1. Compile chapters into a single document.
2. Set the page size: File>Page Setup>Paper Size.
3. Set up columns and margins: File>Page Setup>Margins.
4. Set headers and footers: Layout>Header.
5. Save the template: File>Save As>Document Template.
6. Insert page breaks at chapter ends, turning off 'Link to previous' for both headers and footers: Insert>Break.
7. Set 'Section start' to 'New page: Layout>Section Layout.
8. Insert page numbers: Insert>Page Numbers.
9. Use the 'Show next' to go to the next header: Layout>Header>Show Next.
10. Turn off automatic repagination: Insert>Page Numbers>Format.
11. Check, if you delete a page break, that headers and footers have not been messed up.
12. Check the text spreads look good: View>Print Layout.
13. Tick 'Do full justification like WordPerfect 6x for Windows' in the Preferences menu: Tools>Options>Compatibility.
14. Choose the typeface and set the size from the dropdown list, adding a decimal point manually if desired: Format>Font.
15. Set the leading or line spacing: Format>Paragraph>Indents and Spacing: set Line spacing to Exactly, and enter value.
16. Set Page and Line Breaks: Format>Paragraph: Line spacing.
17. Create, test and modify Styles: Format>Style.

To create text of good 'color' ( evenly spaced lines, without gaps, rivers and compressed words):

1. Control the horizontal spacing by kerning: Format>Font>Character Spacing>Spacing. Expanded or condensed by 0.1 pt is usually enough.
2. Control the hyphenation. Select the relevant word and prevent its hyphenation: Format>Paragraph>Line and Page Breaks>Don't hyphenate.
3. Prevent 'widows' and 'orphans': Format>Paragraph>Page and Line Breaks.
4. Employ a Word Macro like WordSetter {4}

Word templates are also useful, allowing layouts to be used for other documents.

Resources

Sites for more information on page layout software:


DTP Software Review
: More detailed comparison of top ten programs: source of * grading in table above, but check Amazon reviews.

About: Top seven myths and misconceptions about desktop publishing.

Desktop Publishing Forum: Advice from working publishers.

Aaron Shepard: Perfect Pages: using MS Word to lay out your pages.

Word Processing Software Review. Office Software Review Nine popular programs compared.

List of word processors. Wikipedia. Extensive listings grouped by open source, commercial, online and those of historical interest.

Microsoft Word for Publishing Professions. Editorium. Site also sells useful software.

The Fine Print of Self Publishing. Book Publishers Compared. Detailed analysis of 25 top self-publishing companies.

Microsoft Word Templates for Ebooks. Free templates and advice.

Book Design Templates. MS Word templates specifically for books: $37 per design, or $47 with ebook design.

Check with the publisher if you're taking the PoD route, as many will not allow page layout with cheaper software, insisting on text, PDF or MS Word submissions.

 

 

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