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On Friday, Tara Bowman, a new technical writer, asked about software for a
manual with a smaller than letter-size page. She has Word, and access to
Page Maker, but would like to use FrameMaker.
You can set up a manual in Word to print 2 pages up on legal paper in
landscape mode. This gives you a manual page size of 8-1/2 x 7", and
provides a draft copy so that your manager and other reviewers can see what
the manual will look like. You can also set up a standard letter page to
have the apprproiate text margins for an 8-1/2 x 7" page for easy printing,
and then chop off the edges with a paper cutter.
Once you get a good-looking draft, find out whether you will have it printed
in house or out-sourced, how big a press run will be required, etc. Then
get some cost estimates. Especially check the setup charges for the method
of printing, including laying out the pages in folio order. (In case you
haven't run into "folio" yet, it is arranging page images for printing on
large sheets of paper so that when the finished sheet is folded and the
edges trimmed, the pages are in order.)
Will there be other similar manuals in the future? Once you know the cost
structure, you may be able to make a good business case for the software you
In the meantime, once you have a finished chapter, or have a near-finished
draft of the whole manual, try importing it into Pagemaker, and getting
familiar with what Pagemaker can do. Look at it as building your tool
skills. Sooner or later, you'll probably need to use it to update an
existing document that was done in it. Besides, Pagemaker and FrameMaker
are now both Adobe products, so they may get merged into one super product
in the future that will become the upgrade for both.
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