Computerized Pagination:
Getting Started on Adobe PageMaker Software for the Macintosh (Version 6.5).
(By Ross Collins, Department of Communication, North Dakota State University, May 2001.)

This is the "could-be-published as a Dummie's-Guide" version, which we all probably need, whether we're computer-smug or not. PageMaker is able to manipulate three graphic elements:

• type.

• line.

• shape, mostly circles and rectangles.

It can't draw very well. But you can import drawings and photos from other applications into your document. All commands described below can be found under a pull-down menu at the top of the screen. After you become used to them, you'll work faster (and look more professional) by memorizing the keystrokes to shortcut pull-down menus. Look at the menu item to see its corresponding keystroke command.

To Begin
Insert your diskette or Zip disk. You MUST save your work to your own disk. If you save it on the Student Folder on the Hard Drive (the internal disk in the computer), someone is liable to come by later and throw it out. Make it a habit to SAVE OFTEN (use the Apple key+s keyboard shortcut); if the system goes down, you won't lose all your hard work. And while you're at it, spring for a BRAND NEW disk from the bookstore: Macintosh format is used for our class. You'd be surprised at what some students try popping into a computer directly from—what?—the cat box? Yuk.

Open the Hard Drive by double clicking the mouse button on the icon. You see a set of choices. The icons which look like tiny file folders are indeed virtual folders, and double clicking on them will reveal their contents. Arranging your work in folders on your disk (using the New Folder command under File menu) will help you organize your work as if you were working on a real desktop.

In the Word Processing and DP folder, open PageMaker by double-clicking on PM 6.5. The Macintosh is able to allow several applications to run at the same time (multi-tasking); you know you're in PageMaker by looking at the tiny logo at far right. To change applications, click on the logo for a pull-down menu. You may also change applications by clicking on windows you see hiding behind the one that's highlighted in front. A Macintosh "desktop" (screen) is set up like a real desk with several sheets on it: to use the one you need, you have to move it to the top of the stack.

Let's repeat that: look to the UPPER RIGHT corner to see what program you have active. PageMaker doesn't show you any documents until you create or open one, so don't shoot up your hand to say, "duh, I opened PageMaker, and nothin' happened!"

You can also move windows around to see what's behind them. Drag your cursor on the bar at the top of the window. Experiment with multi-tasking before moving on, or you'll spend pointless time in frustration trying to write something in PageMaker when it's not active.

You can set some default choices before opening a new document. This is handy, because then you won't have to re-set each time you start something new. A suggestion: choose Type, Expert Tracking, and Normal. You always want normal tracking, because No Track leaves too much space betwen letters.

Choose the File pull-down menu, and hold the button down to highlight choices. This is called dragging. (Choices in light type are not current options.) Drag the arrow to choose New. (Open opens a document you've previously saved in PageMaker.)

You'll first be asked what page setup you'd like. Normally the default setup is letter size (eight and one-half inches by eleven inches), Tall format, one page. Change elements as you need to. Some changes require you to delete default information. You may also double click to highlight the box, then just type in the new information. To move from box to box, you can shortcut with the Tab key, or click. Any menu command followed by three dots (ellipses) opens to a Dialogue Box like the one described above. This allows you to make choices regarding your document. After opening your new document, open a few dialogue boxes from pull-down menus to see available choices.

Decide which View you'll be working in, that is, how big your document shows on the screen. Usually you'll work in Actual Size view (choose the View pulldown menu) so that you can read the type. Fit in Window gives you the overall view. After opening your new document, choose Preferences from the Edit menu. Important in the Preferences Dialogue Box is the Options button. Choose it to find Typographer's Quotes, and toggle that choice on. (A toggled choice goes on and off at each mouse click.) Almost all published documents should be prepared using professional ("curly-cue") quote marks, and not the "rabbit ear" marks a typewriter would use. (I know this document uses rabbit ear quotes, but I can't help it: it's ASCII text.) Also in Preferences, choose Picas by dragging the pointer on the box to that choice. Printers nearly always work in picas, so you need to as well. Close that Dialogue Box. From the Options menu choose Column Guides. Choose number of columns, and space between columns. This sets up your grid.

If you're setting up a multi-page document, move from page to page by clicking on the numbered icons at the lower left hand corner.

Use the scroll bars on the sides of the screen to move around the document (place arrow in box and drag, click on top/bottom arrows, or click on the scroll bar itself). You can also move the document by holding down the Option key, and dragging. Cute li'l hand, eh?

Note you have lots of blank space surrounding your document. This is the "pasteboard." Graphic artists used to work on a real pasteboard to ready elements for pasting into a document. In PageMaker, use the pasteboard to write headlines, draw boxes, or experiment with elements before dragging them into your document.

Explore Your Toolbox (usually at the top right of screen, but you can move it anywhere by dragging on the top bar).

• The arrow tool chooses elements in a document. When you choose a block of type by clicking on it, "handles" will appear around the type. You can move the entire block, or draw on a handle corner to make the column wider or narrower. Try typing your name with the text tool described below, then experimenting with this feature.

• The "T" is the type tool; it changes the arrow to an I-beam. Click the I-beam anywhere and type as you would in a word-processing program. Most type styling commands are the same, except in PageMaker you can also set leading and tracking, condense or expand type. Advanced note: If possible, it's better to style a font by using the named font ("Times Bold" for instance) instead of using the Style command.

When typing in the pasteboard, it's best to draw a bounding box so that your handles don't extend all the way to the end of the board. While you could later drag these handles to make them fit, it's fastest to first drag the I-beam to trace an invisible bounding box the size of your copy block. If your box turns out to be too small, you can always drag the handles to make it larger.

To move a block of text, you need to drag the pointer tool in the center of the chosen block; dragging along the handles changes the size of the block.

Experiment with the I-beam. Note: before styling text you need to highlight it by dragging across it with the I-beam. Before moving type as a block, however, or moving any other element, you need to choose it with the pointer tool.

• Other tools draw lines or shapes, and manipulate elements. Experiment. After drawing a shape, choose the arrow tool, and click on the shape. You'll see handles appear, looking like tiny boxes. You can drag in the center to move the shape, or drag on the boxes to change dimensions.

Grid Lines
PageMaker sets up documents on a grid. You work with non-printing guide lines to center elements on the page. To explore this feature, choose your arrow tool, and move into the measurement rulers at the top or left of the document. Drag guide lines into the document. Click on Snap to Rulers or Snap to Guides from the View pull-down menu (if not already chosen by default); elements on the page will automatically snap to nearest guide for accuracy. These and many other menu choices are toggled. To turn them off, click on them again.

Bringing in stories
You'll often need to bring in a story composed in a word-processing program, such as Microsoft Word, called "importing." Choose Place from the File pull-down menu. Find the story: if it's on your disk, click on the Desktop button, find your disk by name, and click to open it. Then choose your document.

The pointer tool will turn into a little page icon; this is called a loaded cursor. Place it where you want the type, and click. The type will flow into the space. A tiny inverted red triangle at the bottom of the type block shows you still have more of the story to place. Click on that triangle to load the cursor again, and place the next column. Try dragging the window shades to see how that affects placement of your type.

Actually, if you have your own story to type, it's just as easy to do it right in PageMaker, using the Edit Story function (under Edit). This turns PM into a temporary word processor. You can even spell-check in the Edit mode.

Printing a copy
You have to print to a laser printer capable of handling PageMaker documents. Fortunately, your tech fee supports some excellent cluster laser printers, and they're free. You don't get that at many other schools, so appreciate the wonderful services brought to you by your great land-grant university. Ahem. To print, choose that command from the File menu. Choose options in the Dialogue Box as necessary. You may have to choose a printer type from that window (PSPrinter), if one is not already chosen. You can print color to the Xerox 4700, but it costs a few cents a page.

After you're done working, you can leave PageMaker by choosing Quit and, if necessary, turn off the computer by choosing Shut Down.

Beginning PageMaker: Continuing On
Most of the time you'll want to set up a multi-page document, with certain features common to all pages. These may include a common grid, headers, footers, page numbers, etc. Instead o setting up each page separately, Master Pages offers you the opportunity to set up common elements.

Open a new document of at least two pages. Click on the R or L Master Page icons at the left bottom of screen. (Note: if you toggled off "Double Sided" on the Page Setup Dialogue Box, you'll only see one Master Page icon. Double Sided and Facing Pages sets your document for double-sided, multi-page publications such as books, newsletters and newspapers.) Set up columns. Click to page one. The column guides are transferred, as is any text or other elements.

Don't forget to move out of Master Pages when you place elements on individual pages. Otherwise placements will be repeated throughout the document.

Page numbers: it's tedious to label each page number individually. PageMaker will do it automatically, through the Master Pages. Click the text tool at the place on the master page you want the number to appear, and press Command-Option-P. (Create a page number on each page for double-sided publications.)

Beginning Project
Create your own certificate of enrollment! Way kewl. The point of this exercise is to help you learn to style text and place simple elements accurately on a page.

1. Create a new document. Choose Orientation: wide (horizontal). Click off Double-Sided. Specify six pica (one-inch) margins on all sides.

2. Choose Snap to Rulers and Snap to Guides, if not already chosen. You may sometimes wish to turn these off for precise placement between notches on the ruler.

3. Choose Picas in both the option boxes and, from More, Typographer's Quotes. (Under File, Preferences, and General dialogue box.)

4. Choose a Page View (under View) that allows you to see the entire document.

5. Bring in rules to guide your text placement. Bring in horizontal guides at 15 picas, 20 picas, 27 picas and 38 picas, dragging them from the measuring scale at top.

6. Save your document to your own disk, named "Certificate."

7. Create a border. Choose the triple line Stroke option under Elements menu. Choose the square box tool from your toolbox, and drag a box onto the margin lines. To change style or size of a particular piece of text or element, highlight the text (I-beam) or choose the element (arrow tool) first, then make the changes.

8. Add headline type. Using the arrow tool, from the Type menu, choose Type Specs. Choose Font: Times Roman. Size: 36 pts. Leading: 36 pts. (set solid). Case: All Caps. Position: Normal. Style: Normal. Tracking: Normal. Choose Align Center from the Alignment menu option.

9. Choose text tool, click on the 15-pica guide. Type CERTIFICATE OF MERIT.

10. Keyboard in the rest of the type. With the pointer tool chosen, change Type Specs to 18 pt., Auto leading. Position the text tool I-beam on each of the lines, and type: THE NDSU DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION [Return] COMMENDS [space for your name] FOR [Return] ENROLLING IN ITS DESIGN FOR PRINT COURSE

If you are working in a small Page View, some text may appear as gray bars, called greeked text. Choose a larger Page View to see the real text.

10. Add the line for your signature (after COMMENDS). To help center the line, bring in vertical guidelines after the second letter in "Certificate" and before the second-to-last letter in "Merit."

11. Choose the perpendicular line tool. Drag a line between the two guides. Note the line is still the thick one you chose for the box. With the line selected (note the tiny squares at the ends), choose .5 pt. rule from the Elements (Stroke) menu. Move the line to the 27-pica guide.

12. Create a seal. Choose the circle tool. In the pasteboard, hold down the Shift key and drag the crossbar on the diagonal to make a circle about 9 picas in diameter. The Shift key constrains the tool to draw a circle instead of an oval. (If it still looks like an oval, choose and drag with pointer tool as necessary to adjust.) The circle should have the same-sized rule as the border box you drew, three-line.

13. With the Circle still selected, choose Fill and Stroke option under Elements menu. For Fill choose Solid, and Tint, 10% (Printers call a "tint" a "screen.") Then drag the circle onto the center of the certificate, under the text. Make sure it's perfectly centered; attention to detail is critical in quality publication design. Drag the circle so that its top just touches the 36-pica guide.

14. In the pasteboard, create a bounding box using the text tool. Type NDSU. Drag the I-beam over to highlight, and choose 18 pt. Bold (still Times Roman). Align to center.

15. Go to pointer tool, click to select the type. Note the window shade handles appear. Moving arrow to center, drag the type onto the circle.

16. Review your work: is everything straight? Centered? Correct type style? Spelled correctly?

17. Print. Sign your name. Hand in. Congratulations!

More about PageMaker Text
Usually you'll be bringing text into PageMaker from a word processing program, using the Place command. You may also use PageMaker for word processing, as described above. Yes, you can also type text into the actual document, but it's slower and doesn't offer spell check.

A few other pointers
Text will flow into columns as specified when you set up your document. If you want the text block wider or narrower, you need to drag the edges of handles. Lengthen or shorten the block by dragging on top or bottom window shades. Remember, the tiny upside down triangle at bottom indicates that you have more text left to place. Click on it to load your cursor. When no more text is left to place, the arrow is replaced by a # sign. A + sign on either window shade means you have more text (already placed) either above or below that text block. Drag the shade up or down to push text to another page or column.

If you want to place text in a precise spot on your document, drag the loaded cursor diagonally from top to bottom of the space, and release.

Threaded Text
PageMaker automatically keeps text together, in order, no matter how you place it. This handy feature keeps your text from turning to word mush (such as newspaper columns by Cal Thomas, just kidding) as you manipulate it. Again, note that if you wish to shorten, say, the first column of two in threaded text, you drag the window shade shorter, and the text is pushed to the next column, and vice versa.

If you really need to remove a block of text from the thread, highlight it, choose Cut, and then choose Paste outside the original text block window shades.

For many future exercises, you'll need to use blocks of text or shapes more than once. No need to redo. For text, highlight, and choose Copy. For elements, click to choose and then Copy. This places the copied material on an invisible Clipboard. You can Paste it from the Clipboard as many times as you need to. The Clipboard holds your material as long as you want--even if you leave PageMaker and move to another application, such as Microsoft Word. The Clipboard only has one "page," however: if you copy something else, the material copied previously is deleted.

Type Styles
Usually in a longer document you'll want to create more than one type style, perhaps one for headlines, one for body text, and another for cutline text. Instead of laboriously restyling each block, set up styles using the Define Styles feature. Choose the style you wish to create, and specify details. Then choose the material you wish to change (Select All is a shortcut for choosing the entire block), and click on the style you've set up.

Reverses and Wraps
Traditional designers have found Text Wrap to be one of the most exciting features of computerized pagination. In the old days, wrapping text around an illustration could be laborious and time-consuming. PageMaker made it as simple as water flowing around a rock in a stream--and metaphorically, that's what the wrap feature does. Succeeding exercises ask you to wrap text around a shape. To do this, first position the shape covering the text exactly where you wish the words to wrap. With the element chosen (handles showing), select the Text Wrap option. Click on the center icon showing text wrapping around an object. The Standoff will offer a default measurement; change as necessary. Standoff measures how close the text is to the wrapped object.

After you OK the wrap, you'll see the text mold around the object as a square. You can customize this wrap to fit more accurately around the object. Select the object with the pointer tool; the wrap will appear as a dotted line. Drag this dotted line as necessary to change the wrap. If you need a closer wrap around an irregularly-shaped object, you can add "hinges" to the wrap line: click on the line to add a hinge. Reverses turn backgrounds black, and type, the color of the paper. You must reverse type out of an object, such as a square or circle. Drag the type into the object as you wish it to appear. Choose the object, and then select Solid from the Fill menu. The type will seem to disappear. (Note: Choosing Paper will turn the object white; otherwise, objects you create are transparent.) Choose the "invisible" type with the text tool: white highlighting will appear. Then select Reverse from the type menu. You may have a problem choosing the element, or the type. This is because PageMaker places text and elements as if they were layers on a page. If one element, say a type block, is in front of the object, you will be able only to select the block. To bring other elements up or send them back, select Send to Back or Bring to Front from the Arrange menu, under Elements. Or select the object while holding down the Apple key (lower left).

If you choose to create the reverse in the pasteboard, you'll find you can't drag elements in as a whole: the type won't move when you drag the object, and vice versa. To temporarily group elements as a whole, drag a dotted line around them with the pointer tool. Choose Group from the Element menu and drag them together.

A Final Note
Learning to manipulate elements in any computerized pagination program is a skill; anyone can do it with a manual and a few hours' practice. The skill is only the beginning, however. Just as a photographer begins by learning how to adjust a camera, or a musician by learning the fingerings, a designer learns the software as just another tool to reach his or her creative goals. A very powerful one, true, but still only a tool. Without knowledge of design fundamentals, and without the creative spark that goes beyond classroom learning, what you'll get out of the matchine won't communicate very well. It's easy to find evidence of that in a good share of publications produced today by any office with a computer and a laser printer.

What's more, tools change. Especially if they are run by computers. The PageMaker software you use today has already gone through several generations in a very few years, and already has changed to a newer version. Some shops don't use PageMaker at all. While it is a common software for designers, many publications, especially newspapers, use QuarkXpress, FrameMaker, or other applications. Other shops don't use Macintosh, but Windows. You won't be afraid of change if you know fundamentals. But if you know only "desktop publishing" (a phrase coined by Aldus Corporation), using PageMaker 6.5, you may be inclined to resist changes that could make your knowledge obsolete. This is the value of learning history, philosophy and theory. This is the value of university education.

Copyright 2004 by Ross F. Collins <>

Go to Ross Collins home page.