How do you write and design at the same time?

The challenge of combining the written word and creative design and layout.

As a graphic designer with twenty plus years of experience, I have worked in a number of environments and on many long format projects. Projects that have significant amounts of content, particularly the written word always present a similar dilemma. How do you combine the skills of the writer with that of the designer and ensure the process is efficient? The designer really wants the final written draft, but often this is not available at the beginning of the task or the client wants to visualise the format and layout before finalising content. Sometimes content is subject to live updates right up to deadline day, as is the case with financial reports for example. Often once a design is created rewrites, reformatting, revisions and updates have to be supplied and updated into designs manually by the design team, driving frustration for all involved.

This issue is a common challenge for anyone involved in the writing of the printed word and there are as many different approaches to solving the issue as there are letters of the alphabet, if not more. I want to discuss one option for writers and businesses that have Microsoft Word and Excel as their first choice content creation and writing tools, but that work with designers that create using Adobe InDesign.

Wordsflow

Wordsflow (http://emsoftware.com/products/wordsflow/) is a software plugin for Adobe InDesign that allows Microsoft Word and Excel content to be directly imported into formatted Adobe InDesign documents. Once this link is established, writers and content owners can continue to work on their version of the draft while the design team progress the creative layout. Once updates are ready these can be imported automatically into the design. Benefits are that formatting in the InDesign file is unaffected by written updates massively reducing the number of minor marked up text corrections that designers are required to complete. Of course, this approach does not solve the disruption that major content changes or design format adjustments can cause to a project. It can though given significant benefits as projects progress and become more stable in format but continue to require low and medium writing and content adjustments. Anyone who has experienced supply marked up text corrections or adjustments to a design team and received back a draft with some missing or additional errors introduced through misunderstanding or human error will truly love this tool. No more need for multiple people in the chain to affect the same change. Make the correction in the master Microsoft draft, hand over to the design team, update the linked file, print and proof. Job one.
If this sounds too good to be true, I can promise it’s not. For more information on this subject and other time-saving approaches to your design workflow, please just get in touch. I will be happy to discuss your needs and reduce your stress levels.

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Returning to the world of freelancing

Jam & Chutney Crate

I am happy to announce that I have decided to return to full-time freelance activities from March 2019. I look forward to the opportunity of helping existing and new clients on a wide variety of projects ensuring that quality, impact, and value-for-money are at the heart of everything.

MAKING BETTER USE OF ADOBE ACROBAT

Crop of the ac4designs home page

Understand that not all PDF’s are equal

One key fact that anyone that works or creates PDF documents should understand is that not all PDF’s are equal. The PDF format allows the creation of files specifically optimised for a number of uses which can include:

  • General office printing and viewing.
  • Optimised web and digital display; and delivery.
  • Long term file storage.
  • High quality professional printing.
  • Interactive media delivery (including sound and video).
  • Fully accessible and structured files.

Dependent upon the requirements or features of a PDF the method of preparation and creation will differ. When generating PDF documents for a specific use, users should ensure that they understand the requirements and are using the correct settings. Likewise, the behaviour of a PDF document will differ in Acrobat Reader depending upon the creation settings applied.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT PRODUCT OPTIONS

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ADOBE ACROBAT AND ADOBE READER DC

The video link below provides a short overview of the key differences between the different versions of this product ( https://www.lynda.com/Reader-tutorials/Understanding-differences-between-Adobe-Acrobat-Adobe-Reader-DC-Video/191091/382966-4.html

WHAT IS ACROBAT DC?

Official introduction video to Adobe Acrobat DC. (3 minutes). Basic overview.
https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/what-is-acrobat-dc.html #

GET TO KNOW ACROBAT READER DC

This short video introduces the features and layout of the latest Acrobat Reader version. ( https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/acrobat-reader-dc-overview.html

GET TO KNOW THE ACROBAT DC INTERFACE

Official introduction video to the working interface highlighting key menus and tools. This video covers many of the same topics as the one highlight above but also includes some additional information. Watching both is a good way to embed the learning. (4 minutes).
https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/new-experience-acrobat-dc.html 

CREATE PDF’S FROM MICROSOFT OFFICE

This step-by-step guide covers the methods for generating PDF files from Microsoft Word. You are promoted to download sample files and practice the walk through. (Time required 8 minutes).
This tutorial discusses three separate methods:

  • Method 1: Use the Create PDF tool in Acrobat DC.
  • Method 2: Use the Acrobat task ribbon in Office (Windows only).
  • Method 3: Print from an Office application.

Even if you are familiar with making PDF files I would highly recommend refreshing your knowledge as even seasoned users may pick up useful tips.

https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/create-pdf-files-word-excel-website.html

ADDING STICKY NOTES AND OTHER ANNOTATIONS

If you request others to or are required to make comments to PDF documents then this short video provides an up-to-date review of the tools and process. (5 minutes).
https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/add-pdf-comment.html

SEND FOR E-SIGNATURE

A brief introduction video to the digital signatures features available in Adobe Acrobat.
(4 minutes) https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/send-documents-get-e-signature.html

EDIT SCANNED DOCUMENTS

Ever wanted to edit a scanned file or text in an image file, here’s how in this short video.
(3 minutes). https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/edit-scanned-pdf-files.html

EDIT TEXT AND IMAGES IN PDF’S

This video explains text and images can be adjusted directly within Adobe Acrobat Pro. However, I recommend caution to the inexperienced user as direct changes can cause unseen changes to the files accessibility and suitability for its intended use. (5 minutes).
https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/how-to/edit-text-images-pdf-files.html

SHARING FILES

Adobe Acrobat provides a number of ways to share and track files. The following links provide information on the different options:
https://helpx.adobe.com/reader/using/share-comment-review.html (Web page).
https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/sharing-pdfs.html (Web page).

If you wish to know more about Adobe Acrobat or have a specific issue then please get in touch via my contact page.