Re: Laying out a newsletter

Subject: Re: Laying out a newsletter
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2006 09:03:04 -0500

Hi, Odile:

What app would you use to lay out a newsletter? I used to use
PageMaker, but that was a good long while ago. Is FrameMaker good
for that? Acrobat? Something else altogether?

As you note in your other post, that you're a long-time FrameMaker user, you don't have the learning curve that's been suggested is prohibitively long. If you also own or have access to FM, it's a very capable page-layout tool, with only a few small missing features that aren't deal-breakers for a newsletter.

Your layout experience from your PageMaker days isn't out of date; if you own or have access to PageMaker, even older versions are adequate for a newsletter.

The suggestion that FrameMaker is too expensive to purchase, but InDesign is a good choice, isn't quite "apples-to-apples;" it's more accurate to say: "InDesign is the best page-layout product available, it's expensive, and it takes a lot of effort to learn page layout with it or any tool, and, FrameMaker is expensive, is a competent page-layout tool, requires the same effort to learn page layout." If you'll be doing large and complex page-layout design projects beyond layouts, then InDesign is a good choice, in my opinion.

In FM help, search for "Setting up multiflow documents," "connecting text frames," and "layout," for topics that will show you how to create page layouts similar to the way they are done in PageMaker, InDesign, Publisher, and others. You use the "paste-up" metaphor of creating text frames on blank body pages, adjust their size and position, connect them on the same page, or on consecutive or non-consecutive pages, use cross-references to create "continued on page nn," and "continued from page nn," references which are called "jump lines."

The two main things that FM can't do that dedicated page-layout programs can do:

* Create automatic page numbers on multiple page spreads. For example if you create a two-page letter-size side-by-side page layout, InDesign and the others can automatically number each page, but FM can only create a single page autonumber for the layout, which it considers a single page. The workaround is to create small connected text frames (or master page background text frames) to contain a "chain" of autonumbered paragraphs that simulate page numbers. Not a biggie.

* FM's text-handling isn't up to the truly world-class level of InDesign. For example, InDesign can compose whole paragraphs of text at one time, to get the best look, according to your preferences, while FM and all other layout programs can only compose each line within a paragraph as if the others don't exist. The value is a smoother-looking paragraph. Also, the current version of FM doesn't recognize all the type refinements, alternate letterforms, and other goodies in OpenType fonts.

Your newsletter learning effort will involve thinking differently about working with pages, whether you stay with FM and learn to take advantage of features that are not usually employed in FM's usual technical publishing personality, or if you select a dedicated page-layout product, where you'll have to learn the product as well.

There are several strong on-line user communities for Adobe InDesign at, as well as some non-Adobe communities.



Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices

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