And their was much rejoicing

My tinkering has paid off! At least mostly. Perhaps not on proportion to the amount of tinkering time and energy I put into it, but that’s probably a question best left unanswered. I figured out how to combine sections from different documents into one big document, using Pages. This is wonderful news, because I’ve been sitting here all semester wondering if we would be able to make a yearbook using Pages this year, or if we would have to wait and re-make everything in InDesign. It’s a better program and everything, but, sheesh, what a pain! So I’ve been stalling, teaching the desktop publishing class how to use Pages, but not making much in the way of real yearbook pages, but not committed to actually making a yearbook there. So now we will, even f we do get InDesign – but if we do, they’ll learn it for next year, so that said yearbook will get better, especially as an e-book.

As it turns out, the thing I needed to do was quite easy; it’s just done a different and simpler way than I’m used to, and so I missed it until tonight. In InDesign, the only desktop publishing software I’ve used extensively (which has made me so, so spoiled!), if a person wants to make a longish document, he makes several different documents, links them together in a book, and then exports them as a PDF. So each document opens up separately, but the whole thing comes together in the end without any tinkering in Acrobat. In addition to having sections load faster than an entire book would, it’s possible to define text styles for one section differently than another, or to set the styles in one section as a “master” document, where whatever pages you choose will acquire those styles instead of, or in addition to its’ own. And then there’s the issue of more control over print colors, separations, resolution, etc. But this class isn’t anywhere near there yet. So I was looking for some kind of linked book set-up like that, and was frustrated and disappointed at not finding it.

The reason, by the way, that it’s important to have some way to link or easily move documents, is because the alternative is to copy and paste each and every element from somebody else’s document into your own, and then group and move all the pictures by dragging them about whenever you want to change the relative positions of your pages – which is alright for a word processor, but very much of a pain for desktop publishing projects that are heavy on the graphics.

So, anyway, I had no idea what the use of “sections” was. They didn’t do anything that a page break didn’t do, as far as I could tell. Ah – but then I started playing around with the little thumbnails on the edges. And – lo and behold – pages separated by section markers moved as one unit, apart from the rest of the document, while those pages separated only by page breaks stubbornly refused to move anywhere – at least within their sections. The things move as chunks or not at all. Ah! but if you make every page a section, then they will each be able to move on their own with no problem. This was all well and good – but with no “add to book” feature, how do I get the pages in there in the first place? Well, as it turns out, they can be copied and pasted. That is not something I ever would have guessed, because I usually assume that the amount of information in the average page is way to much to just be copied. Apparently not in Pages.

Also, I’ve found that the previewer program that comes with Macs can show PDFs as a full screen slideshow in two-page spreads. Things are looking good. If my yearbook students had any sense of design, or interest in learning any of this stuff, I would say it was perfect. But, you can’t have everything, I guess…. *shrug*

Hence, we’ll be able to start on our real yearbook this week, and stop messing around. My students probably won’t be too happy about that, come to think of it.

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