My first time putting together a newsletter. It's a one-person operation with the editing, design and layout. Am learning lots about desktop publishing in a hurry. The biggest problem has been the desktop publishing software, or the lack of a dedicated one. It's not for lack of planning, but some things I guess I could only learn it the hard way.
Here's what happened:
After asking some colleagues familiar with desktop publishing, I settled with using MS Office, because (1) I was only familiar with MS Office, (2) buying a dedicated desktop publishing software was out of the question, and (3) it was what was available on hand.
MS Office proved more than adequate for the 20-page newsletter, once I discovered about customising templates (also learnt where to download free MS Office clip art). Then another problem appeared.
I needed to convert the finished MS Word document to a PDF format. I only had OpenOffice on hand (export the MS Word file as PDF) which worked fine in my initial test with a small MS Word file. But when I exported the 12MB MS Word document, the alignment in the converted file was haywire.
At that stage, I did a reality-check:
- IFLA will not take my 12MB MS Word file to be uploaded on IFLAnet
- I had to convert it to PDF but exported file isn't acceptable
- Couldn't try other freeware PDF converters 'cos I'm using office computers and there are installation restrictions
- No one else can do this for me (even if I wanted to pay somebody, there wasn't time)
- Basically the only logical choice is to start over using OpenOffice
- But I've never used before (given my relative familiarity with MS Word, it already took me days to put together everything together)
Finally, after 5 minutes of denial, I took the only logical choice and started to learn OpenOffice. It's funny how everything gets focused once a decision has been made.
After a 4-hour self-discovery trial-and-error crash course in OpenOffice, I mastered enough to be confident that I could pull it off. Another saving grace was that much of the thinking behind the design and layout had been done with the previous document.
As of this blog post, I only finished page 4 of the 20-page newsletter. But at least there's an end in mind, a light at the end of the tunnel. What's needed is some slick time management to pull it off.
Plus, it's all a blessing in disguise. Rather than think of having wasted my time with the first attempt, I have now learnt much more about MS Word and OpenOffice compared to when I first started with the newsletter.
That already counts for something.