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Thread: Professional desktop design

  1. #1
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Not exactly outdoors related but I thought I'd try the collective wisdom of OM first.

    I want to produce some professional documents, about 100 pages long with stunning graphics, intuitive typesetting and great cover art. I'm planning on writing all the content in Word but would adobe framemaker or QuarkXpress achieve the above, or would I be better off sending the whole thing off to a professional typesetter/designer? The final document will be downloadable in PDF format.

    Any comments or direction gratefully recieved.

  2. #2
    Ultra King Gordy's Avatar
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    I always find Word pretty crap when working with any graphics. It doesn't give you enough control.

    I haven't used Framemaker or Quark (very much). Pagemaker or InDesign would certainly do the job for you if you can get 'em.

    HTH.

  3. #3
    Übermensch Bob C - backpackinglightdotcodotuk's Avatar
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    DON'T use Word for anything but text input, as it creates so many hidden codes behind the screen as it were, which can screw up certain layout software.

    As you write FORGET fonts, colours, bold indenting etc. That's all done at typesetting stage.

    If your output is intended to be pdf, you will need someone who has Acrobat Pro as an output printing device from their layout software.

    You haven't said PC or Mac, but there are various simple cheap layout software packages such as Serif for PC which includes Acrobat maker as part of the package I think. If you want to do it yourself.

    However, my advice would be, write your text, take your photos, edit them in photoshop (you need to decide early on if the pdf file will be printed - Pix need to be 300dpi -, or screen only - Pix at 72dpi - actual size)

    Then approach some designers and ask them for a 'comp' design layout based on your ideas and content images. They will take this away and give you a couple of pages and front cover as an example - for free. You then choose whichever one suits your needs and agree the price for layout.

    Job done!

    Honestly, Ecco, unless you have natural skills in layout and design, don't bother. Concentrate on the dazzling content and leave someone who knows their stuff to give you something to be proud of.

  4. #4
    Übermensch Big Kev's Avatar
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    PC Pro magazine are giving away Quark Version 5. Fully-functional according to the blurb.

    If you can't find a copy in the shops, let me know and I'll pass along the DVD.

  5. #5
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Thanks Guys - good advice as always

    Bob - i suspect you are spot on - leave the design skills to others and concentrate on the content. What are these designers called - typesetters ? Desktop designers ?

    Big Kev. - thanks for that - i'll look out for it. Might give me some ideas.

  6. #6
    Goon GeoffC's Avatar
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    Framemaker was acquired by Adobe and now seems to be deprecated in favour of Adobe InDesign, a more recent indigenous product specifically for DTP (desktop publishing). For a comparison of the two by a professional user, see
    here.

    MS Word is primarily a word processor and was not designed for this sort of thing. It can handle images etc. but the placement and page layout for a document such as yours is crude compared to a proprietary DTP product like InDesign. I've never used it in anger, but InDesign looks like a complete solution for DTP and it integrates with other Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator - no incompatibility problems.

    QuarkExpress is (or was) a popular product for DTP but I know nothing about it.

    Whichever products you use, it's nice to retain complete control over your project right up to the print stage, always more satisfying than entrusting it to third parties.


  7. #7
    Übermensch Bob C - backpackinglightdotcodotuk's Avatar
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    Difficult these days as most typesetters I know have gone out of business!

    Depending where you are, you could contact your local Uni if they run a media course. Sometimes they need practical work to add to their students project portfolio, and you will have free help there.

    Otherwise, you need a small print shop independent or Prontoprint, but literally shop around. The reason I came out of media work, is that you have to pitch your design concepts first and for free, to get the job.

    In talking to these people and explaining what you want, they might put you in contact with a freelance designer, there are lots about, who work from home and would be ideal for what you are after.

    So perhaps, pop into these places and ask if they know of any. Or contact a small local printers and ask the same question, as most of them have made their design staff redundant, and the in-house people are usually just simple paste up artists, without much time to be creative, to the level you might want.

  8. #8
    Ultra King Dave Mycroft's Avatar
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    Ecco, you have mail

  9. #9
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Once again, thanks Guys.

    Is it ok to work in word to develop the content and rough charts & tables and then export into something better ? What can I use to draw nice charts and tables but without having to learn major DTP skills ?

    Thanks for that Bob - I've got a couple of local print shops so I'll enquire.

    Dave - thx for mail.

  10. #10
    Übermensch Bob C - backpackinglightdotcodotuk's Avatar
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    Keep it simple Ecco.

    I would just draw them freehand on a bit of paper, or use Excel for simple bar charts.

    Give them to the designer and he/she will turn them into works of art by creating new ones using the right software.

    Otherwise, you are back to becoming a designer again and the whole 'feel' of the charts has to fit within the 'feel' of the final product.

  11. #11
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Cheers Bob. I never knew I could deliver charts/tables in such a raw form. I really appreciate the advice.

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