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How to Prepare a Word Document For Layout

You've hired a graphic designer to lay out your newsletter, brochure or report. You have a tight budget and don't want to incur any extra costs for the job. How can you prepare your Word document to ensure things go smoothly at the design studio?

1. Don't spend time formatting

Aside from letting the designer know what should be emphasized and what the general hierarchy of the information should be, he or she doesn't need you to try to make the document look "pretty". Adding colour, borders, etc. is just a waste of your time, as it will all disappear when the designer imports the document into their layout software.

It's important to note here that you do need to separate headings, paragraphs and sections appropriately so that the designer can see how the information should be handled. Remember, they are designers, not editors, and although my studio does read through content, a lot don't, and designers are not paid to edit.

2. Remove extraneous tabs and spacing

Rather than press the tab button five times to get your cursor where you want it, create one tab and move the tab slider at the top of your document window to where it should be. This eliminates the need for the designer to go in and manually remove all those extra tabs.

As for spaces, NEVER hold down the space bar until your cursor is where you want it. The result at the design end is that it's a much more lengthy process to properly format it. All those spaces have to be deleted. Instead, replace the spaces with ONE carefully placed tab.

If you're not sure about the formatting you've input, simply click on the paragraph icon beside the toolbox in your formatting toolbar (it looks a bit like a backwards "P"). It will show you all the invisible keystrokes you've input. Tabs show up as right-pointing arrows. Spaces show up as small dots.

3. Create placeholders for logos and imagery

Rather than spend time sizing and cropping an image and/or a logo, simply create a placeholder telling the designer that this is where you'd like something placed. Putting the instructions in square brackets is a good way to indicate that the information contained within the brackets is not for print. It ensures that the document isn't too large and unwieldy, and saves you time at the front end as well. If there are numerous insertions, it's a good idea to include the name of each file. This eliminates confusion at the studio.

4. Insert page breaks