Word processing applications
A word processing application, such as Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect, is very good at working with basic text. If you want to type fast, check your spelling and grammar, automate repetitive typing tasks, create outlines, track changes to the text, write reports with footnotes, make and organize tables of data, and print to desktop printers, then you should choose a word processor as your application.
What word processing applications are not good at is working with colors or creating high-end graphics. The drawing features found in word processors should be used only to create artwork for documents that will be printed directly from the word processing program onto desktop printers. Don’t ever take your word processing document to a service bureau (see Chapter 16) for professional, high-end output. If they don’t flatly refuse to do the job, they may charge you extra for recreating the job using a professional page layout program.
Word processors are also not very good at professionally formatting text—they just don’t have the sophisticated features for adjusting the spacing and position of text characters, controlling hyphenation, or wrapping text around an image. If you want truly fine and beautiful type, insert your word-processed text into a page layout application such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress.
The software vendors try to delude you into thinking you can create entire newsletters and brochures in word processors. Technically, you can, sort of, but it’s so much trouble and there are so many limitations that believe me, you’ll have much more fun creating your newsletter in a page layout application. The internal structure of a word processing page just doesn’t allow you the freedom you need to make something like a newsletter, fancy brochure, advertisement, or other designed piece.
Most people start off typing their text in a word processing program and then importing or placing it into a page layout application. If you are preparing text in a word processor that you or someone else is going to insert into a page layout application, here are some guidelines to follow. (If you receive text that is typed by others, you should make a copy of this list and give it to that person.)
- If you use tabs to separate colums of information, insert only one tab character between each column. Even if the text doesn’t line up correctly, don’t add any extras tabs. Those extra tabs are going to cause huge gaps and uneven columns in the page layout application. If you find it difficult to read the columns, use the tab stops to even out your columns.
- Use only one space after periods. The old rule of two spaces after a period applies only to typewriters.
- Don’t hit the paragraph return several times to make spaces between paragraphs. Those extra lines are only going to cause problems later on. If you need space between paragraphs, you should create it using the “Space Before” and “Space After” paragraph formatting. You can find these commands in your word processing program.
- Before you use tables in the word processor, find out if your layout program can import them. However, don’t apply fancy colors or borders to the table in the word processor. That formatting will have to be removed in the page layout program.
- Don’t use the built-in drawing or graphics features of word processing programs. They don’t print as well as professional graphics and can cause all sorts of problems if you output your file using a professional process. The same thing applies to the clip art that ships with word processing programs.
- Don’t insert graphics or photographs from other applications into a word processing document. Instead, make a note in the text that the graphic or photo goes into that spot. Then, the person doing the layout can add the graphic in the correct position.
- Check before using automated formatting such as drop caps, numbered lists, footnotes, endnotes, and indexes. You want to make sure that the page layout software will be able to import these features correctly. If not, the formatting will have to be removed and reapplied using other techniques.