Most businesses are looking at ways to save money these days. If you own a copy of
Microsoft Word, you don't have to run off to a graphic
designer every time you need a brochure. No matter what version of Word you are using, it's easy
to create a simple tri-fold brochure using just
your word processor.
Newer versions of Word, such as Word 2000, let you link text boxes like you can in a
desktop publishing program, but for a simple brochure,
all that frustrating clicking and dragging may be
overkill. The older but potentially easier way
to create a brochure in any version of Word is to
use the built-in columns feature. Your brochure is
basically just two landscape oriented pages set up with three columns.
1 Figure out the layout
Before you open Word, you should figure out how the panels of your brochure will
appear on the paper. There are two types of folds
commonly used in brochures: the z (or accordion)
fold and the barrel (or roll) fold. As the name
indicates, with a z-fold, the paper is folded in
alternating directions, which is good if you want
to present information sequentially. The barrel
fold is much like you'd fold a letter before putting it
in an envelope (the second fold wraps around the first one). It helps to take a scrap piece of
paper and fold it the way you want your brochure to
appear. Then number the panels on each side. You may be
surprised to find that the back side of the
brochure has the front cover.
2 Set up the page
Next you want to set up the margins for your brochure. Remember that some printers
have restrictions on their "live" printable area, so
don't make the margins too small. (Inkjets are
especially likely to require extra large margins.) To
set up your page, choose File|Page Setup. Click
the Paper Size tab and change the orientation to Landscape. Now, click the Margins tab and
set your margins. For example, you might make your
margins .5" all the way around.
3 Set up columns
Now you are ready to set up the columns. The trick to keeping your brochure from
looking lopsided when you fold the brochure is to
make sure that the number you type into the
Spacing box in the Columns dialog box is double that
of your margins. (Technically, this space is called
the gutter between columns.) So if your margins are
.5 inches, make your gutter between the columns 1 inch. Choose Format|Columns and click the
icon for three columns under Presets. Now change the
default spacing amount that Word has entered to be double that
of your margins and click OK.
4 Add breaks
Okay, so now you have a page with three columns on it with your cursor sitting at the
beginning of column 1. It helps to visualize your
layout if you turn on text boundaries and
paragraph marks. Choose Tools|Options and click the
View tab. Now put a check mark next to Text boundaries and Paragraph Marks and click OK. (It
looks a little more like a brochure now.) You can
either start typing or you can set up the next page by
inserting column breaks. Press the Enter key to
add a blank line and then choose Insert|Break.
Click Column break and click OK. Now your cursor
is at the top of the second column. Repeat the process and your cursor ends up at the top of
the third column. Now you want to insert a page break to create the
second side. Choose Insert|Break and click Page Break. Now
add column breaks and your new page is set up just like your first page.
5 Add and format text
Your layout is now all set up. You should see two pages that each have three panels with a
blank paragraph in each one. Now you can begin adding
text. If you have quite a bit of text to enter, you may want to switch to Normal View to see your column breaks more easily. Choose View|Normal and you see dotted
lines with the words Column break. When you are
adding text, don't forget about where it will end up in
the finished product. The cover may actually be the
last panel (refer to your folded scrap piece of paper if
you forget). You can format the text as you type or type it all in first
and format later. Remember, with formatting, less is often
more. Using every font on your system is always bad idea. Look at
layouts you like and you'll notice that designers always choose fonts for
a reason. The whole goal of any brochure is to communicate.
Anything that is hard to read, won't be read.
6 Add pictures
Along with your text, you may want to add some pictures to your layout. For example, if you
are creating a product brochure, you may want to
include a photograph of the product. Avoid using cheesy clip art just because it's there. Bad clip
art rarely adds to the layout. To insert a picture from
a file you already have, choose
Insert|Picture|From File. Find your file on the hard disk and click
Insert. The picture appears on the screen. You can size it
by clicking and dragging one of the corner
handles. More recent versions of Word also include a
number of other picture manipulation options, which you
can access by right-clicking on the picture.
7 Print it out
After you have your brochure laid out and formatted the way you want it, you are ready to
print. Getting the document to print correctly depends
on your printer. Check your printer's instruction
manual to determine the right way to place the paper to
get the pages to print correctly. Remember, the pages
will be back to back. If your printer has a duplexer
attachment, this process may actually be automatic.
So, there you have it...with just a little thought
and a few insider tricks, you've entered the
wonderful world of graphic design using just a word
processor. Pretty cool, huh?
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Susan Daffron is the Editor of Computor Companion (read more about Susan)