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Microsoft Publisher Tips

Publisher Tips

This is a page for all Microsoft Publisher users. The tips here include submissions from users like you, as well as observations from our pre-press and design staff. Refer often to these tips to help you get a clean, flawless layout.

Publisher Keyboard Shortcuts

Page layout programs like Publisher are, to a large degree, about formatting text into a legible and inviting configuration. And page layout pros save a lot of time by using keyboard shortcuts for their most often used actions. To that end, here are some keyboard shortcuts for some often used text formatting options:

Ctrl+B for bold text
Ctrl+U for underline
Ctrl+I for italic
Ctrl+= for superscript
Ctrl+Shift+= for subscript
Ctrl+Shift+K for small caps
Ctrl+Spacebar removes all style formats from the highlighted text
Ctrl+Shift+f accesses the font menu, arrow keys select, and enter changes the selected text to that font
Ctrl+Shift+P accesses the font size menu, arrow keys select size, and enter enables the change
Ctrl+Shift+> increases the font size by a half point
Ctrl+Shift+< decreases the font size by a half point


Work in the CMYK Color Space in Publisher, rather than RGB

Please visit our RGB - CMYK Information page for a full explanation.


Page Sizes

You can start a new document or change a current document to any page size you like. Simply go to File/Page Setup and under the option 'Choose a Publication Layout' select Special Size. Under the option 'Choose a Publication Size' select Custom. You may then enter in the physical dimensions of your printed piece making sure the orientation is correct. Once complete, click 'OK' and you may begin your design.


The Nudge Option

For a high degree of control over the positioning of objects on the page use the nudge option. Just select the object you need to move and use Alt+Arrowkey (up, down, right, left) and your object will move one pixel for each keystroke. Use Arrange-->Nudge to change the increment of movement.


Absolute Positioning

Even better, go to Format-->Size And Position and use numerical values to position and size objects. This is the absolute best way to make sure things will look right when you are going to press with a design. Trying to position objects by eye on your monitor can be deceiving because of the relatively large size of the pixels it uses to display objects. Do the math and use this method when you want your design elements to be positioned exactly.


Grouping Elements

After you have a section of your layout positioned very precisely it might be a good idea to select all the items (hold down the shift key and click on each one) and then group them together using Arrange-->Group Objects or (Ctrl+Shift+G). This will lock them together in their relative positions. This is especially useful if you will need to duplicate this configuration somewhere else in your layout; copy and paste the group to another page and you will have perfect consistency throughout your layout. 


Automatic Wrapping

You don't have to press Enter (return) at the end of each line, just at the end of a paragraph. Simply type away and let Publisher wrap the text automatically. This may save you lots of time, especially if you decide to change your type size later--you won't have to go back and take out all those extra Enter commands. If you need to make a line end shorter than a full line, use Shift-Enter, called a soft return.


One Space, or Two?

Instead of putting two spaces after each sentence, just put one. This is a standard in the industry. 


Putting Things in the Background

Publisher uses foreground and background layers. Your work will go on the foreground by default unless you set it to be in the background. You might want to use images or text in the background. Here's how to do it: choose View-->Go To Background. This will take you to the background of the publication.


Remember to Print a Hard Copy

It's very easy to miss mistakes in your document when you're looking at it only on the screen. Print it out and look at it. Check for spelling errors, spacing problems, inconsistencies, and design problems. If your project is going to be folded then fold the printout you made to see if the elements on the page are positioned right on the panels and to see if there are any problems with folding it the way you had envisioned.


Spacing and Alignment

Check the alignment of frames, text, pictures and captions. It should be consistent throughout your publication. Also check spacing between headings, paragraphs, and pictures. The spacing should be consistent throughout your publication.


Spelling and Punctuation

Don't forget to check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Run the spell checker; select Tools-->Spelling-->Check Spelling. Another good one is to check the accuracy of hyphenation: select Tools-->Language-->Hyphenation. It's a good idea to have someone else look at it too. They may see something you've been looking at and missing.



Not Sure We Can Print From Your Publisher File?

If you are not sure that your file will work, you can send it to us and we will examine it to see if there are any major flaws that would prevent us from printing your job.


Professional Printing Results with Microsoft Publisher

I'm going to make the bold statement:
"You can get the same professional printing results using Microsoft Publisher, a program that many people already have on their computer or can obtain for only about $140 as you would get by using the far more expensive Adobe Indesign or Quark XPress."
Microsoft Publisher
And I'm going to tell you exactly how to do it in this article.

All layout/design programs do essentially the same thing; they allow you to position text, photos, clip art and other elements in a document which is generally destined to be printed on some kind of media such as paper. And the secret here is that Publisher is equipped to do all these things just fine. In addition, we've found that it's much faster to learn than the more expensive programs.

Since we began, PrintingForLess.com has been the printer for tens of thousands of small businesses who have chosen to use Publisher to create their marketing pieces. And what we've learned in over 10 years of experience is that if you avoid some very common pitfalls you can create a very effective, professional looking marketing piece for your business. We'll focus on how to overcome these pitfalls while using Publisher.

Planning

Before you fire up Publisher and begin to add pictures and text to a layout, consider doing a little planning and idea development first. Brainstorm with your team exactly what change in thought or behavior you desire to create in those who view your piece. What story are you telling? What bold premise are you putting forth? What call to action are you building into your marketing piece? Get clear on these questions and then sketch on paper some possible ideas for how to attain these results before you begin the actual layout.

Images

After you do the above mentioned planning it's time to obtain whatever photographs your piece requires. Two of the largest mistakes that we see with photography are:
  1. Using haphazardly produced or pre-existing photographs simply out of convenience instead of obtaining exactly what your planning process calls for
  2. Poor lighting or low resolution
You can get decent quality photography with only a moderately priced camera of perhaps 4 or more megapixels. If you frame your subjects correctly (hint—get close...), mount the camera on a tripod for maximum sharpness and use some supplementary lighting when indoors, you will probably be happy with the results. With a 4 megapixel image which is uncropped you can stretch it to about 7" wide and still have sufficient resolution to create a sharp, professional look. If you use it at a smaller size than 7" it will be plenty sharp.
It's not important to convert your photographs from RGB to CMYK since Publisher stores them as RGB anyway. At PrintingForLess.com our RGB to CMYK image conversion process is state of the art and will yield the most accurate possible results.

Logos, diagrams, clipart, etc.

Many marketing pieces require a company logo or other types of images which are not photography. The main thing to avoid here is using artwork which was obtained from a website. It will be much too low in resolution and will look fuzzy or blocky on the edges. Use original artwork which is 300 dpi or greater in resolution or even better, is still in a native format which is vector.
common logos for publishing
Please call us about this part of your design process if you have questions. We have highly trained creative and technical people with libraries of such artwork who can help you get what you need inexpensively or perhaps even free of charge.

Create the layout document

Create your layout document in Publisher at the trimmed, finished size of the piece. If the piece is folded use the layout guides tool to create "Grid Guides" to indicate where the folds are and also where the center of each fold panel is. In other words, for a three panel, folded brochure, create six columns. The Grid Guide in the center of each column will make it much faster to accurately center the images, text and other contents of each panel.
publisher layout guides
You can find the Layout Guides tool under the "Arrange" menu item.

When positioning text and images in a column, if you select an object it creates "handles" on the corners and sides of the object which you can use to stretch it. To perfectly center all your layout items select and nudge each object so that the center top and bottom handles line up with the grid guides you created.

publisher image handles
In general, if you use actual measurements, guides and other tools to position your layout items instead of merely "eyeballing" their positioning you will be certain of creating a more professional looking layout. Margin guides can be set to .125" to help you avoid placing text or other important items too close to the edge of the paper.

Feel free to use one of Publishers premade wizard templates if you have a hard time getting your ideas to flow into a blank sheet of paper. When using these templates you will simply substitute your text and graphics for what is in the template.

Color Selection

Printing with ink is about color—and everyone has fun picking the colors for their text, panels and other design elements. Two very common mistakes are:
  1. Selecting colors directly from the color picker within Publisher based only on how the color looks on screen
  2. Picking colors using the RGB color space
The problem is that the color you see on screen is glowing light while ink on paper is very different. And RGB is a color space based on light, not ink. Selecting colors this way often causes disappointment when the printed color does not resemble what your eye and brain thought it saw on screen.

The answer is to pick your color formulas from an ink and paper color guide. If you do this the colors in your printed piece will be just what you expected. Two very good sources of ink and paper color guides are:
  1. Pantone CMYK color swatch books
  2. Free PrintingForLess.com design guide we enclose in every pack of printed samples sent to anyone who requests one
Pantone color guides
After you have selected your layout colors from one of these color guides set up the cyan, magenta, yellow and black values in the color selector in Publisher, be sure the Color Model is set to CMYK as indicated below:
publisher color selector

Fonts, Fonts, Fonts

A common mistake is to use too many different fonts within a layout. It's fun to pick fonts that call attention to and uniquely highlight each section of your layout. But to most viewers, using too many fonts will look busy, tedious or just plain goofy. Instead, choose a single font family (includes a plain, bold, italic, etc.) which is somewhat conventional and easy on the eye for most of the informational text in your layout. So called "serif" fonts such as Times New Roman, Bodoni and Garamond have proven to be easiest for the eye to read in paragraph text. And if your layout can benefit from some playfulness by all means select and use a different, unique-looking font for a headline or other attention-grabbing section.

You'll find that as you begin to put text into text frames in Publisher the program remembers your "palette" of selected fonts and conveniently positions your selected fonts at the top of the font selection dropdown. This makes it easier for you to quickly select from your "chosen palette" of fonts as you build your layout.
publisher fonts dropdown

Grouping Elements

After you have a section of your layout positioned very precisely, it might be a good idea to select all the items (hold down the shift key and click on each one) and then group them together by pressing the "group objects" icon located directly below the objects you've selected. This will lock them together in their relative positions. This is especially useful if you will need to duplicate this configuration somewhere else in your layout; copy and paste the group to another page and you will have perfect consistency throughout your layout.
grouping objects in Publisher

Use Master Pages for Common Backgrounds

If your design calls for a consistent background color, company logo in the corner of each page or some other consistent design element on every page, don't waste your time doing it manually. Open the Master Page (View...Master Page) and carefully place the repeating elements here. Uncheck Master Page and you'll be back in normal (foreground) view—except the contents of the Master Page will now be in the background of every page in your layout. This is a great tool when you are creating many identical business cards for people in your company. Create a multi-page document and put the logo and other common elements on the Master Page. Each employee's contact info is the only data on the foreground layer of each page which is much easier to manage.

Spell Check

There is a good chance that the spell checker is already on and making spelling suggestions as you type in Publisher. But it would be a good idea to manually run the spell checker (Tools...Spelling) so that you can consciously review any remaining spelling/grammar issues before sending your layout to a commercial printer.

Print a Hard Copy

Print several copies of your finished layout on a desktop printer and read one as though you are seeing it for the first time. Get a couple of your detail-conscious friends to proofread and review the layout. You'll be surprised at how you might perceive the layout on paper vs. on-screen and you'll probably find some mistakes that you were unaware of when viewing on-screen.

You've probably noticed that some of these suggestions aren't specific to using Microsoft Publisher—and you're right. The majority of regrettable and less than professional issues we see with layouts created by those who are not design professionals; and not the fault of the software they used. It's simply the lack of a checklist-something that airline pilots use every flight. If you use this short guide as a checklist each time you create your own designs, you'll consistently gain superior results and feel proud of your work.

More Using Microsoft Publisher Articles


Commercial Printing with Microsoft Publisher - from CreativePro
Yes, it's possible to produce press-ready files from Microsoft Publisher. We'll help you sidestep the snags.

Tips for Preparing your Publication for Commercial Printing - from Microsoft
Things to be aware of when creating your Publisher file for printing, including color model, pages, fonts, bleeds, images and using the Pack and Go Wizard.
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