The freebie calendar situation has been steadily deteriorating for several years. In the past, by mid December I would have amassed a small pile of big budget glossy calendars promoting one company or another in various tasteful and decorative ways. Usually there’s been more than enough of them to supply the whole family, but either businesses are cutting back or they’re not sending them to me anymore and of late the haul has been very meagre indeed. Even my local Chinese takeaway has stopped giving them away…


It comes to a pretty pass when you have to buy a calendar; fortunately calendar making is something the average PC and colour inkjet printer can do quite well and it’s possible to rustle up a professional-looking job in just a few minutes for the price of a few sheets of paper and some printer ink. Kids really enjoy making them – it gives them something to do after Christmas when they’ve broken/got bored with their presents -- you can easily personalise them with family photographs (another good excuse to blow the dust off your scanner or digital camera) and they make excellent last minute or emergency gifts. If you run a small company you can try your hand at creating your own corporate calendars, or cut costs by doing the design work in-house and have them printed professionally.


The easiest method is to customise a ready-made template or use a specialised graphics program. There are plenty of serious ones to choose from in the design and graphics sections at your local software dealer, or for something a little more light hearted, have a look at the many themed and ‘character’ paint programs designed for younger PC users.


There are also lots of freeware and shareware titles available and we’ve included a few useful addresses in ‘Web Links’ (see below). However, before you spend any money or fire up your web browser check that you haven’t already gone a calendar program lurking in the free or ‘bundled’ software that came with your printer, scanner or digital camera.


Word processors and graphics programs in office suites often include calendar templates and there’s a particularly versatile one in Microsoft Publisher with a huge range of styles. The one in MS Word (97, 2000 etc.) is quite good too, though it is not installed by default. On some versions you will need to have the MS Office installation discs, or download the software from the Microsoft web site. To use it go to New on the File menu select the Other Documents tab, click on the ‘Calendar Wizard’ icon and it will tell you what steps you have to take to install it. It’s very easy to use and like the one in Publisher it lets you insert your own graphics, photographs or clipart.


You can also create a simple calendar using nothing more elaborate than the basic programs included with Windows. The trick is to take a series of screen grabs of the monthly calendar display in Windows and add it to your choice of graphics or images, here’s how. Double click on the time display on the Taskbar to open the Time/Date Properties dialogue box, change the date to January 2001 then, holding down the Alt key, press Print Screen on the keyboard to copy a bitmap image of the dialogue box to the Windows Clipboard. Open Windows Paint (Start > Programs > Accessories), press Ctrl + V to paste the dialogue box image and use the Select tool to box the calendar display. Press Ctrl + C to save it to the Clipboard. Select New to clear the screen and open your chosen image, picture or graphic. Press Ctrl + V to past the cropped calendar display into the page. Use the sizing handles to position and change the shape. When you’re happy with it save it and repeat the exercise for each month of the year. When you have finished don’t forget to reset the Windows calendar to the correct date.


For a really professional-looking set of monthly day/date displays that you can copy and paste into your paint or graphics programs have a look at the Perpetual Calendar Generator at:

The web also contains a wealth of graphics and clipart that you can use to decorate your work, or, for a really personal touch, include information or illustrations from some of the many web sites that specialise in listing people and historical events associated with a particular day, month or year; there’s a couple of addresses in Web Links to get you started.


If you want to give your calendar a really professional finish print onto high quality paper or thin card, preferably a ‘coated stock’ and back it with some slightly thicker card. You can staple the sheets together and cover the edge with coloured sticky tape, or use a binding clip, available from stationery suppliers. Don’t forget a punch a hole, so it can be hung up.



Calendar Software

Calendar Links


‘On That Day/Year’ sites


Next week – Making Word work for you





Type of image file format (extension *.bmp) used by Windows and many other programs, quality is high because no compression is used, however bitmap files can be very large



A section of memory where chunks of text, data, graphics or pictures can be shared by Windows applications



Pressing the Print Screen on the keyboard takes a snapshot of the PCs video display, which is copied to the Windows Clipboard. Pressing Alt + Print Screen captures just the active window



It’s time once again for one of our occasional ‘Easter Egg’ tips. These are little ‘extras’ hidden away inside applications by the programmers, usually for fun, and it’s one of the reasons programs consume so much disc space these days. However, this one is quite diverting and it lives in Excel 2000. It’s a challenging driving game with excellent graphics; note that you will also need DirectX 6 or 7 on your PC, if not you’ll find it on most PC magazine cover-mount CD-ROMs.


Pay attention, it’s quite involved, but well worth the effort. Open Excel 2000, on the File menu select ‘Save As Web Page’ then check the items ‘Save Selection Sheet’ and ‘Add Interactivity’, click Save and a file called ‘page.htm’ should end up in My Documents (or wherever else you choose to put it). Exit Excel and open Internet Explorer and open the saved ‘page.htm’ file. Scroll all the way down to row 2000 and along to column WC, check the cell, highlight the whole line and use tab to select cell 2000 WC again. Next, hold down Ctrl + Shift + Alt and click on the Excel logo in the top left hand corner. The screen goes black and after a few seconds the game starts. Use the arrow keys to steer, the spacebar to fire your guns, H for headlights, O to spray oil and Esc to exit. Good luck!


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