Using Style Sheets and Templates

Using Style Sheets and Templates
Style sheets and templates are very useful tools in desktop publishing, especially if you are publishing a monthly newsletter, periodical or even a book. Setting up a style sheet and template and applying it to each new publication you are doing, or each chapter in a book, creates a consistent look and feel for that publication.

The style sheet could include the main title, headings and sub headings, as well as the body text, captions for photographs, and even headers, footers, footnotes or references. If you are starting a new publication it may take some playing around with different layouts, font styles and sizes to get the final look and feel that works best for the publication.

When creating a newsletter or other document for a client, consider asking for their input to see what they might have in mind. Sometimes they have no idea and sometimes they have too many! Take a newsletter for example, if it is the first time you are designing it you might want to do several versions or layouts of the first page -- which is the most important one as it is the first seen and usually contains the most design elements -- and see what you or your client like or don't like. I always find that if I have two or three choices for my clients they will always find something they like and sometimes not like. They may like the layout of one page and the font used on another. It helps give you direction to creating something they will love in the end.

Once the style of the first page of your document is decided, it is a good time to make note of which fonts and sizes have been chosen for each section of the publication. Then setup your style sheet and save the document as a template to be used on future publications. The template could also include the placement of graphic elements such as a logo, border or dividing lines. The header or name of the publication, margins, column guides, single or double sided pages, pagination can also be included in the setup of the template and style sheet. It may seem like extra work, and for the first publication it is. However, when the following month comes up and you have to start working on the next issue, you just open up the template and everything that was decided upon in the first publication is all set and you are ready to go.

Years back when I first started desktop publishing, I wasn't one much for style sheets or templates. Then I was hired to do a monthly medical journal that just on the first page of each article alone had seven different styles. That was when I started using templates (five for each journal) and style sheets as it saved me much time from having to jump back and forth from a previous article to the new one matching the styles I had already used!

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