Planning Your Document

Before you start using Word's desktop publishing tools, consider quickly sketching out a preliminary layout by hand, especially if there are specific ways you want to lay out information or if you're using any kind of graphic such as logos, clip art, or photographs. Getting your ideas on paper, even roughly, can give you a better idea of what size your images should be, how large you can make your headings, and how much room you'll have for your basic text.


When you plan a document, start by asking yourself what is the key message you're trying to communicate. Make sure that the headlines, graphics, and choice of typography work together to support that message. For example, don't use the Comic Sans typeface to promote investment services.

When you are putting together a larger publication, such as a newsletter or quarterly report, it's best to gather all your materials before you begin designing the document. One of the biggest problems you'll have as a layout artist is getting the text to fit within a specific number of pages. Whether you have too much text or too little, it is much easier to make it fit when you have all the pieces. If you must lay out a document without all the elements in hand, use rectangles and text boxes approximately the right size to serve as placeholders. This gives you a truer picture of how your text is going to fit.


If you want to see how text will flow around a picture or an AutoShape but don't have the text yet, you can use Word's built-in text generator. Place your insertion point where you want the text to start, type =Rand(), and press Enter. Word inserts three paragraphs. Each paragraph contains the same sentence repeated three times: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

If you need more or fewer than three paragraphs, you can specify the exact number of paragraphs and the number of sentences in each paragraph, using the =Rand() function. The syntax is


where p equals the number of paragraphs, and s equals the number of sentences in each paragraph.

Keep all the files for a project together. Create a single folder to hold the document itself; any subsidiary Word files; and all the pictures, graphs, and anything else you may need in order to assemble and maintain the document.

One final word about planning your document: moderation. When you're choosing fonts, font sizes, and styles for your publication, select the smallest number of options that can do the job. Two fonts and three font sizes are adequate for most publications. An advertisement or other document with too many changes in fonts and/or font sizes is difficult to read and detracts from your message. Just because you can change fonts every letter doesn't mean you should.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word