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Waltzing with the Wizard

In Publisher, choose File, New, and expand Publications For Print and then Banners, shown in Figure 2. Publisher 2003 comes with nine different categories of banners and a total of 40 different banner designs. In the task pane, click each of the nine categories and look at the different options available—shown in the main Publisher window. Or, you can scroll down in the main window, ignoring (for now) what's in the task pane. When you see a banner type that suits your fancy, click it to start the wizard. Don't worry if you're not really sure. You can change your mind later, and Publisher will give you a much better preview of the different designs (under Designs and Schemes, coming up a little later).

The Banner Wizard offers four sets of options:

  • Banner Options
  • Publication Designs
  • Color Schemes
  • Font Schemes

If you click each of these in turn, you'll see different option sets.

Banner Options

Banner options are Width, Height, Graphic, and Border. If the Width options shown don't fit your needs, click the Custom Width link at the bottom of the task pane to display the Page Setup dialog box. In the Layout tab, shown in Figure 3, you can specify not only width, but height as well. Publisher can create a banner as large as 20 by 20 feet if you're feeling particularly adventurous.

Note that most printers are not capable of "full bleed" printing. That is, they cannot print to the edge of the paper. There is a nonprintable region around the perimeter of the page. Hence, there is a gap between where one physical sheet ends and the next sheet begins. This means that you will end up having to do some literal cutting and pasting (or taping) to assemble the finished banner. So, in choosing Portrait versus Landscape, you might want to choose the orientation that requires the least cutting and taping.

Another tool at your disposal is the amount of overlap. Still in the Layout tab, click Change Overlap to display the Poster And Banner Print Options dialog box, shown in Figure 4. As you change the overlap, note that the information changes to show the resulting number of required sheets of paper.

Overlap is good. It gives you wiggle room if your cutting skills aren't perfect. When you choose overlap, an identical part of a character or graphical element is printed on two adjacent pages. This then gives you some extra room to align the pages. You can choose the part from the left page or the part from the right page. If the paper is translucent, you can even see that the two parts form a single image, which helps you be certain of proper alignment. I suggest that you leave the default overlap, unless you'll be cutting with scissors (rather than a paper cutter) and have been drinking too much caffeine to keep your hands steady. If you have shaky hands, you might want to make the overlap a bit larger than the default .25".

Designs and Schemes

In the task pane, click Publication Designs, which shows the same options you previously saw on the left. However, now that your banner appears at the left, the listing of designs in the task pane provides a chance to better preview each design. While you're getting a handle on the possibilities, you can go back and forth among the different option sets in the task pane.

When you have a design you like, click Color Schemes in the task pane, shown in Figure 5. Note that the color bar at the right has five distinct blocks for each theme. Choose Bluebird and then click Custom Color Scheme at the bottom of the task pane; ensure that the Custom tab is selected.

As shown in Figure 6, the five color blocks in the task pane correspond to the Main color and Accents 1 through 4. Hence, the colors in the task pane provide a glimpse of how the scheme is applied.

Notice also that the leftmost column of colors in the task pane is largely black. That's why choosing different themes doesn't usually seem to have a major effect on the displayed text for your banner. Why might that be? Are there any economists in the audience? You there—wearing the cheap watch.

Right. Because black ink usually is the most plentiful and least expensive. On white paper, black ink also provides the sharpest contrast, making your banner more readable.

Not all the accents are used in every Publisher template. If Accent 3 isn't used, you can spend all day changing it, and it won't affect your banner. In fact, you'll probably discover that only the Main color is used for banners. The accents and other elements are used in some templates, but not in the banners. So, why not simply apply a font color directly? Why not, indeed.

Press Escape to dismiss the Custom Schemes dialog box. In the upper portion of the task pane, click Font Schemes and then click any of the displayed font schemes. If you're like me, you're wondering this: Why are there two fonts shown for each scheme, yet only one is applied? Well, that's because that's how font schemes are set up. There are two fonts: a major one for titles, and a minor one for non-title text. Because a banner is by definition rather title-ish, you get the major font. Font schemes aren't limited to banners. So, for those presentations in which there actually are major and minor text elements, both fonts will be used.

But, if you're like me, you're wondering Why have a scheme if only a single font is used? Why, indeed. And, you can select the text in your banner and apply a font of your choosing directly from the Font tool in the formatting toolbar.

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