Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get What You Expect

When you go and visit your publisher, it is a great idea to ask to see samples of books that they have printed. Since there are many different quality levels it is easy to be expecting something different than the publisher is quoting. This will ensure that you both have the same product and quality level in mind as you discuss your book. May I share a very sad story about this? I had a very nice lady come and visit with me. She told me that a year earlier she had gotten a quote from us and another local printer. The other printer was a few dollars cheaper so she went with him. After months of trouble and reworking her book with that printer she found out that this was his first book and it turned out very poorly. She said that it actually cost her more than if we had done it in the first place. It wasn't nearly the quality she wanted and her emotional cost in tears and hassle was huge. She wished that she had us print her book. I felt for her and told her that I would pass her story on to spare others this same grief. Save yourself a similar experience by asking to see a sample so you can get what you expect.

Chris Stevenson cs@sgenealogy www.sgenealogy.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Your Custom Computer Help Book

I use a computer most of my work day and there are several tasks that I do over and over again. I have found that it is very easy to remember how to use these programs. But there are several computer tasks that I do less than once a month. I have a really hard time remembering the easiest way to do them (or how to do them at all). I’m not sure if it is because my memory isn’t as good as it used to be or if it is just overload with so many different pieces of information that I am trying to store in my brain (I could blame it on “chemo brain” or “half-timers” but I won’t). Whatever the reason for my laps in memory, I have learned a good trick from my Dad. Dad started to use computers when he was in his 70s. It has been said that it is much harder to learn new things at that age, and I guess that it is true. Anyway, he would write down each step of every task. He would then put a title on the top of the page and file it alphabetically in a three-ring notebook. It does take a little extra time to do this, but it helps him so much that it is worth it. He doesn’t refer to his custom computer help book every day, but it is a great help when he needs to do something that he hasn’t tried for a while. My help book is electronic that I keep in a word processing file because that is easier for me. But either way, this can be a real time saver (not to mention the frustration it saves) when you don’t have to figure out how to do something all over again. Try it. Make your own computer help book for any task that you don’t do at least a couple times per month. See if it doesn’t help you, too.

Chris Stevenson cs@sgenealogy.com www.sgenealogy.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pictures and Captions in Word 2007

Occasionally I have someone ask me how to put pictures in their book using Word 2007. Here is a little step-by-step “how to” for doing that. Once you learn how it really is easy so keep at it until you have figured it out. Hopefully this will help you with your book. (Note: there are several ways to do the this in Word, but this is the method that I think is the easiest. If you know of a better way, please share it in the comment section.)

After you have scanned, cropped and adjusted your picture so that it looks just the way you would like, the you can insert the picture using the following steps. (For info on scanning, see my post A Picture is Worth …)

1. Click insert on the ribbon, then Picture. Locate the picture on your computer and double click (or select and click insert).

2. In the Format tab of the ribbon, change to the desired size. Then click on the Position icon and select where you want it on the page. I suggest that you change it from “in line with text” to a position on the page with text wrapping. If you do this than the picture can be easily moved to a specific place on the page. (There are other things that can be done to the picture such as change the brightness and contrast but I won’t cover them here.)

Inserting the caption:

1. With the picture selected, click on the References tab on the ribbon. Click on Insert Caption. This will open a little pop up box for captions. Type or paste your caption in the “Caption” field, and click okay. (Note: If you have a long caption, just type the first few words in this field, click okay, and then finish typing the caption in the text box.) This will put the caption in a text box that is below the picture and is already sized to the width of the picture.

2. The captions are usually set to automatic numbering, so to remove that information just click in the text box and delete it.

3. Now is a good time to format the text. (I like to type my text first and then do the formatting. To select all of the text in the text box, press Control & A at the same time.) You can center the caption in the box, change the font to your desired caption font or set it to bold italics so that it is set apart visually from your book text.

4. Next we want to group the picture and caption together so they stay connected. Click on the picture and then hold down the shift key and click on the caption below it. Their should be blue circles and boxes around both the caption and the picture. Right click on the picture and a little box will pop up. Select Grouping and then click Group. Your caption and picture are now grouped as one object.

5. Now we have to account for a bug in the Word program. You will notice that the text wrapping changed to “in front of text” when you grouped the picture and the caption. This can easily be changed back. Click on the Format tab on the ribbon, then select Text Wrapping and change it to square.

There you have it. The picture has a caption that will stay with it as you continue to edit your book. If you need to adjust the picture, you can “ungroup” the caption, make the changes to the picture and then follow the steps 4 & 5 again.

Here are some links to web pages that cover some things that I didn’t and for different ways to deal with captions. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HP012289821033.aspx


Chris Stevenson cs@sgenealogy.com www.sgenealogy.com

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ink vs. Toner

The life of your book will depend you your choice between ink and toner. Throughout history ink has been made from many different materials. (Here is a link to a brief history of ink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ink#History_of_ink). Because black ink was made from archival materials (often carbon based materials) they lasted for hundreds of years. Today we have basically three types of “inks”: printing press ink, toner, and spray inks. The small printers that many of us have hooked to our computers are usually dye based ink jet printers. They are inexpensive to buy but the ink cartridges are not. The other challenge is that dye inks are not archival and they are not water fast and will run when they get wet. Fortunately, they have developed pigmented inks that can be used in a laser jet printer. Pigmented inks are archival and when dry resist running and smudging. These inks are even more expensive, as you would expect, but they will last. (Here is a link to a good comparison between dye and pigmented inks: http://www.oddparts.com/ink/faq19.htm).

Toner is a great material that lasts. Black toner is made from carbon materials which is archival and should last as long as the paper does. Toner costs a lot less than ink cartridges on a per page basis. Ink that is used on a commercial printing press is almost always archival, so it works great for books. Printing press ink is even less than toner, so this method is very economical for long runs.

Ink verse toner. The debate continues on. Hopefully this will be helpful as you decide which method you want to use for your book.

Chris Stevenson cs@sgenealogy.com www.sgenealogy.com