BOOT CAMP 045
CREATING YOUR OWN STATIONERY
We receive a fair number of letters at Connected. Most of
them are written on word processors and printed using inkjet or laser printers.
The technical standard is usually very good, they're neatly laid out and the
printing is crisp, the trouble is many of them just look so dull…
That's a pity because even quite modest embellishments, such
as a letterhead or logo, can make your correspondence really stand out. A few simple
design flourishes can add weight or humour to your message, convey a sense of
professionalism, catch the reader's eye and greatly improve the chances of it
being read, and you receiving a response.
Of course you could pop down to your local print shop and
have them run off a few hundred off-the-shelf letterheads, compliments slips
and business cards; or you could mobilise the quite formidable design and printing
facilities within your PC, and do the job yourself. Not only will you have the
satisfaction of creating your own unique personal stationery, it will cost a
fraction of what a print shop will charge. There's no need to wait for your
order to be fulfilled, you print stationery as you need it and there's little
or no waste as you can make instant alterations should your home or business address
and contact numbers change. (As they will for a lot of people in the next round
of BT phone number changes, due in the year 2000).
We'll begin with headed notepaper. If you're using a
reasonably up to date word processor like Microsoft Word or Lotus Word Pro,
then a lot of the hard work has been done for you. In Word go to the File menu,
click on New and select the Letters and Faxes tab. There are some really good
designs in there, complete with shading and a well chosen blend of typefaces;
all you have to do is substitute your name or company name in the text fields.
In Word Pro select the New Document item on the File menu and choose one of the
Ready made templates are fine if you're feeling lazy but it's
much more satisfying to create a design from scratch, or borrow elements from
the templates by copying and pasting them to a blank page. You can also
incorporate facilities like automatic date fields using the AutoText and Field
options on the Insert menu in Word. Similar feature are available in Word Pro
on the Text menu, under Insert Other. Both Word and Word Pro come with extensive
clip-art libraries, stuffed full of interesting and useful graphics and logos
that can be pasted into your letterhead.
There's nothing to stop you designing your own graphics using
the Paint program in Windows or any other paint box program. You can also import
images using a scanner or digital camera. Don't be afraid to experiment with typefaces and sizes though
avoid using too many different styles on the same page, it can end up looking
messy. When your blank letterhead is complete give it a name and save it as a
Document Template (*.dot) file in the Letters and Faxes folder in Word; in Word
Pro they're saved as SmartMaster files with the extension *.mwp.
Compliments slips can be based on your letterhead. Omit the
date line and any other unnecessary elements and key in any additional text you
deem necessary. Rearrange the design so that four slips can be can printed on a
sheet of A4 paper. When you're happy with it use copy and paste to repeat the
design. Save it as a document template, run off a few sheets and cut them into
strips, so they're ready for use.
Use the best quality paper you can lay your hands on for
headed stationery and comps slips. Make sure you get the right type (i.e.
inkjet or laser) for your printer. Inkjet printing on coarse or highly absorbent
paper looks dreadful; the ink runs and characters look ragged.
DIY business cards used to be a bit of a problem for PC
owners, not because of any deficiency on the part of computers but due to the paper
handling characteristics of printers. Nowadays most inkjets and lasers can print
on 200 to 250 gsm card, which is well suited to this type of job. Packs of A4
sized card -- in various colours -- are available at good stationers and larger
branches of W. H. Smiths. You can also buy sheets of micro-perforated blank
business cards from specialist suppliers like Viking Direct (see contacts); they're
designed to be used with the label-making software in word processors. It's a
lot easier than cutting up sheets of card by hand.
In MS Word the label facility is on the Tools menu. It's not
especially sophisticated, though it's possible to produce a plain and simple
card without too much trouble. Word Pro goes one better with a small selection
of business card templates, these can be found in Smart Masters in the New
Better still, there are a number of programs on the market,
specifically designed to create fancy-looking business cards. Two of the best
known are CardBase, from Software By Design, and Business Card Designer Plus
from CAM Development. Fully functioning 30-day trial/shareware versions are
available from a number of sites on the Internet (see Contacts for web
addresses). Both titles are very easy to use. You start by entering the information
you want to appear on the card, after that you can see what it will look like using
the supply of stock designs. However, they're really mini desk-top publishing programs
with all the tools you need to really express your creative talents,
personality and occupation, albeit on a rather small canvas…
Business Card Designer Plus: http://hotfiles.zdnet.com
Viking Direct, telephone 0800-424444
A simple line of computer code, embedded in a document, that
automatically inserts the day's date into a letter
A document template is a largely blank page containing basic
text, layout and style formatting instructions that you may want to re-use over
Grams per square metre. A measurement of the weight and to
some extent the thickness of paper and card.
Your printer's instruction book will contain details of its paper
Software programs that you can try, before you buy. If you
decide to use it beyond the trial period you should send a payment to the
author or publisher
There's a hidden feature in Word 97 that automatically scrolls
the page or document you're watching. It's really handy for reading long
documents, or you can use it to turn your PC screen into a teleprompter or
autocue, for displaying speeches and scripts. It was originally designed to be
used with 'wheel' type mice but it works on any standard two or three button mouse.
Click on Customise on the Tools menu, select the Commands tab, scroll down the
list and highlight 'All Commands' in the Categories window. In the right hand Commands
window find, single click and hold on Auto Scroll, drag and drop it onto a
toolbar and a button will appear. Close Customise and click on the Auto Scroll
button, you can vary the speed and direction using the arrows that appears in
the left hand scroll bar.