In this edition of Hidden Gems, we are following the trail of Microsoft Office Publisher, one of the most important tools in the small business armoury.
Publisher helps everyone create branded documentation (invoices, letterheads, delivery notes) and marketing (brochures, flyers, postcards) easily without sacrificing professionalism. So if the recession has left your company in need of a boost, publish and be jammed – with new business!
The Target: Microsoft Publisher 2010, some features also apply to earlier editions of Publisher.
Whereabouts: Included in Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Edition, or available standalone from the Microsoft Store. Quick-start guide also available. (Note: schoolchildren and students are eligible for significant discounts on Office software).
Modus Operandi: Fast, efficient web browsing, with add-ons to personalise and simplify your experience.
Most small businesses can’t afford to have a designer on the books. You have to design your brochures, handouts, exhibition collateral etc yourself... but you’re not a designer. That’s why we all end up with something like Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen in Changing Rooms: occasionally a glamorous triumph, occasionally a fashion faux-pas, usually something in between.
To help keep your customers from running a mile, Publisher isn’t just about creating paper marketing; it’s jam-packed with helpful formatting tools to keep your design muse on the straight and narrow.
When you opened up shop, you probably sorted out a logo; and most likely a couple of colours which will form the basis of all your marketing. (By the way, if you want help putting together gorgeous colour schemes, check out Kuler.
With Publisher’s Colour Schemes, you can define the colours which you will use throughout a document. Change your mind later on, and you can change the appearance of all the elements in your document with one quick tweak to the Colour Scheme. And since you can copy Colour Schemes between documents, there’s no excuse for your marketing to lack consistency.
To work on Colour Schemes, hit Format > Colour Schemes
Similarly, you won’t want to re-invent the wheel when it comes to document design. There are hundreds of templates from classics (like trifold menus and business cards) to innovative documents like flyers, certificates, and (here comes December!) Christmas Cards online. The selection includes Publisher Templates for the 2003 and 2007 versions of Publisher as well as 2010.
Perhaps the smartest feature of Publisher (2010 only) – both in saving time and presenting a consistent corporate image, is a function called Catalog Merge (I’m afraid that even in the UK edition, it’s still spelled ‘Catalog’ rather than ‘Catalogue’). Never mind the spelling- the functionality is pure genius.
Catalog Merge allows you to connect to a database and present repeated records in a presentation document while only having to format them once. Typically, this is ideal for:
Catalogues and price lists of products
Lists of suppliers or stockists
Features and options comparisons
...indeed anything where you want the same sort of information to appear several times with different content each time. You only have to design the record once; Publisher takes care of the rest. To put together a Catalog Merge:
Get your raw data ready (in an Excel file or text file, for example)
Open your Publisher document; and make sure it’s saved for reference as a Template
Select Insert > Catalog Pages and drop a space on the page for your Catalog Merge Area to appear
Connect to the data source. To do this, on the Catalog Tools tab, select Add List > Use an Existing List and find your data file.
Now decide which fields from your data source will appear in each record instance in the Catalog Merge Area. In the Layout tab, you will find several pre-defined record layouts to drop into the Catalog Merge Area. Hit the Text Field button to drop in text fields; or the Picture Field button to drop in pictures or graphics. All of these can be resized manually using grab-bars directly in the Catalog Merge Area once you have inserted them.
Click Preview Results to see what the finished product will look like; and make any tweaks necessary. When you’re ready, hit Merge > Merge to New to finalise the document.
Hey presto – a 200-item catalogue in under 15 minutes; and with every single product displayed consistently and professionally.
Create once, use everywhere
In today’s multi-media world, you’ll also want your written materials to work everywhere else, too. There’s no point in having a letterhead or promotional literature which has to be reworked from scratch to work online.
Publisher therefore includes a range of Save-as options which will make exporting your media a doddle. Try for example:
Save As HTML: Perfect for putting up as a web page, or importing into an email marketing or newsletter campaign
Save as PDF: Ideal for direct-to-print applications or copy-protected emailing to clients
Save as XPS: Useful for professional printing
In all these cases, you can be sure that what you create once can be repurposed, recycled and presented again with the minimum of hassle and the maximum in utility and brand consistency.
Under the magnifying glass...
With Publisher 2010, you can also:
Adjust the colours, brightness and contrast of photos without an external editor
Manage a single customer list taken from Outlook, Excel and BCM records in one place – making email newsletters a doddle
Add pre-formatted page elements like headlines and sidebars in a couple of clicks
Use the Backstage View (common across Office 2010 products) to check for and fix common problems. In Publisher, that includes Design Checker; which keeps an eye out for a range of commercial printing bloopers and offers ways to solve them.
The target exposed
Find out more:
Get Publisher now!
Microsoft Templates Resource, including Publisher Templates
Get started with Publisher Templates