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PROJECT: Create a Sure-to-Embarrass Book of Photos from Your Fabulous Dance Party.

What better proof that your dance party was a success than a printed gift book of photos? Using iPhoto’s book-building tools, and Apple’s book ordering service, I’m going to show you how to commemorate the mugging couples, the graceful dance moves, and even the slightly inebriated fellow who guarded the keg all evening.

  1. ORGANIZE PHOTOS: Choose a new or existing album of photos for your gift book. Edit and/or crop the photos to make them look their best. Place the photos in the approximate order you would like them to appear in the book by dragging them. Keep in mind that the first image in the album will be on the cover. You can change photo order in Book view, but it is simpler to organize the album before you begin working on the book’s layout. If you plan to use photo titles in the book, choose View, Titles and make sure they’re all correct. To include comments in the book, select a photo and add or edit comments in the information pane. When you’re ready, click the Book button. A book sheet appears in the source pane.

    Illustration 6

    Illustration 6 Start by organizing and editing an album.

  2. CHOOSE A THEME: To build a book, you must first choose a book type and a theme. You can print a large hardcover book, or one of three softcover sizes. Click Options + Prices to learn more. Pick a theme from the list. I chose a medium-sized softcover book and the Contemporary theme for the dance party book. You’re asked whether you would like to lay out your book manually or let iPhoto do it. I’m lazy. If I don’t like what iPhoto does, I can change it later.

    Illustration 7

    Illustration 7 The Contemporary Theme matches my hip, happenin’ dance party book.

  3. EDIT AND ADD TEXT: Themes contain text blocks on the cover and on each page. You can also add your own text blocks. First, edit the default cover text. Click on the title block and edit the text. Click on the subtitle block, select all of the text, and replace it with your own. By default, the book’s first page also includes text blocks. Click the page 1 thumbnail to see and edit text on this page. You can edit text on any page that contains a text block in the same way. Use the Zoom slider to get a closer look. The only way to add your own blocks is to choose a page layout that includes one. I’ll select the page 2 thumbnail (no text) and change the page design to one with margins. To change the font and/or style of all text, click the Settings button. Font and style changes you make here apply to all text in the book.

    Illustration 8

    Illustration 8 Click a text block to edit it.

  4. DESIGN PAGES, ADD PHOTOS: You can choose how many photos appear on each page. The available design options change based on the theme you are using, but all themes include a cover page, an introduction page, and as many inside pages as are needed to display all photos in the book with a minimum of 20. Click the thumbnail for page 3 in your book. To see just this page, click the Single Page view button in the lower-left corner. From the Page Type menu, choose Three. (You can also choose a different page design from the adjacent menu.) iPhoto adds blank photo boxes to the page. To fill a box, you first need to display the page that contains it. Click a thumbnail with a photo you want and drag the photo onto the page 3 thumbnail. Add another photo in the same way.

    Illustration 9

    Illustration 9 Drag a photo from a full-size page to a thumbnail to move it.

  5. REARRANGE PAGES: If you like the design of a page but not the photo placement, drag images over one another to switch them. To change page order, drag a thumbnail onto another thumbnail you want to replace. The other pages shove over. Photos move with the page, so changing page position also reorders the images in the book. Click Add Page to do just that. Add photos as described in Step 3. Click on a thumbnail and then press the Delete key to remove the page. You will be asked to confirm that you really want to delete it. If the page includes photos, they will be placed in the Unplaced Photos area, not deleted. To use those photos, click the lower button to the left of the page thumbnails to use them.

    Illustration 10

    Illustration 10 Unplaced photos live here.

  6. PREVIEW THE BOOK AND ITS PAGES: When you’re satisfied with the placement of photos, pages, and text, Ctrl-click outside a page in the main window and choose Preview Book. Using the Preview application, zoom in or out and scroll to each page to verify that everything looks the way you want.

    Illustration 11

    Illustration 11 See how your book will look in Preview.

  7. PRINT A DRAFT: The minimum price for the bound hardcover photo books Apple sells is $19.99 ($2 per page), so it’s a good idea to print a draft version on a color printer before placing an order. You can check for text errors and make sure your photos are arranged, cropped, and edited the way you would like them to be. Choose File, Print. To adjust printer options, especially to get the best-looking pages from your color inkjet printer, click Advanced and choose output options that maximize quality. To print a really, really rough draft, just use the default or high-speed settings. When you’re happy with your print settings, click Print.

    Illustration 12

    Illustration 12 Print a draft of your book.

  8. ORDER BOOKS: Once your book looks exactly the way you want it to, you can order books immediately or wait a while. As long as you don’t change anything about the photos in the album your book is built on, the final product will look like the draft print you have made, only a whole lot nicer. Click Buy Book. If you have left any text blocks unedited or included low-res images, iPhoto warns you. iPhoto prepares your book. (Did you miss a warning icon?) A book must be at least 20 pages long. If yours is shorter, iPhoto warns you about that, too. If you already have an Apple account with 1-click ordering enabled, the order screen will be ready and waiting for you, complete with the cost of each book. Just enter the number of books you want in the Quantity field, choose where to ship the books, and a shipping method. If you haven’t set up an account, iPhoto takes you through the process before you can place your order.

    Illustration 13

    Illustration 13 The price of your book is based on the number of pages.

  9. MAKE A PDF BOOK: Perhaps the price of your book (pretty reasonable for one, but on the high side for 30 folks) put you off ordering one for everyone at the party. If you’ve retreated to a more modest number of books, why not send PDF versions around to your other guests or to the losers (but whom you still love) who didn’t come to the party? Ctrl-click outside a book page and choose Save Book as PDF. Name and save the file where you like. Double-click it to have a look (it will probably open in the Preview application) and then email it to those for whom love does have a price.

    Illustration 14

    Illustration 14 Here’s your groovy PDF.

For more information on digital photography and iPhoto, visit our Digital Lifestyles Reference Guide, Macintosh Reference Guide, or sign up for our Digital Lifestyles or Macintosh Newsletters

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