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16,467 Views 11 Replies Last post: Mar 19, 2010 7:08 AM by walton RSS
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May 14, 2009
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May 14, 2009 10:39 AM

Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

I have done quite a few smaller publications (under 50 pages) using WordPerfect and Atlantis (which produces .rtf files) that are printed by a local printer (I use PhotoFiltre Studio and PhotoScape and sometimes PaintShopPro for artwork). Now I am looking into doing bigger publications through CreateSpace, and trying to figure out how to best to go about it.

 

Based on some advice I had received, I was looking into doing book interiors with LyX (or another LaTeX type of program) and book covers with Scribus. However, I have downloaded both programs, and am somewhat daunted by how much it looks like I would need to learn to use the programs.

 

So, I downloaded the free versions of Serif PagePlus (for producing covers) and Softmaker's TextMaker (for interiors), and both look a little (maybe a lot) easier to learn. I am considering whether to buy both, or whether Serif PagePlus could be the better option for doing both the interior and exterior (because perhaps I can covert the book interior file in Serif Page Plus into html and then I could easily put it on Kindle?).

 

I do have some unfinished books that are in .wpd and .rtf files that I want to bring over to the new system and finish out. And, I do have endnotes in some of the documents -- which I think means that I can't use Scribus for the interior unless I want to enter the endnotes numbers in the text by hand and then type the endnotes at the back and I don't exactly want to do that (I think LyX will allow you to enter footnotes and then convert them into endnotes).

 

Any wisdom would be appreciated! If I should just buckle down and learn LyX and Scribus, I am willing. . . or if there are other programs that I should consider, I'd love to hear about them! (I do have a computer with Vista, so I know that may limit my program choices.)

 

I'm sure that some folks would advise me to get InDesign, but it's not in the budget at the moment.

Level 5 13,129 posts since
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1. May 14, 2009 11:28 AM in response to: VintageReader
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

My opinion is that TextMaker is just a basic word processor, and even less suited for book page layout than MS Word.  One positive thing is that in it's native format (.tmd), TextMaker can load and move through a long-form document (like a book) much, much faster and with greater stability than in MS Word or WordPerfect, but otherwise I think WordPerfect is superior in every way.  So if you already have WP and know how to use it for book layouts, I'd be inclined to either stick with it or go to a real layout program like InDesign.

 

However . . . I'm not familiar with Serif PagePlus at all.  I haven't tried it and don't know anyone who has.  If it can really do all it says it can, that would be something!  So I might give it try when I have a chance, just to find out.  If you (or anyone else here) uses it for interior file layout, I'd be genuinely interested in your experiences and conclusions.

 

Welcome to the community and good luck on your projects.

Level 5 13,129 posts since
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3. May 28, 2009 12:26 PM in response to: VintageReader
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

I said that I might give this a trial run if I had a chance.  Well, I did -- the Serif PagePlus X3 Professional version ($100 retail, $81.99 on Amazon.com).  The product description says it is a "perfect" layout tool for books, capable of producing "unrivaled" commercial output quality. Well . . . not exactly. Granted, for that price, it would have been really impressive if it WAS -- but it's not (at least not without a lot of qualifiers).

 

A few key highlights:  It does support mirrored pages, but it doesn't support different running headers for sections/chapters, nor does it support a different first page header for a section/chapter (even Word or WordPerfect can do those things). What's required is that you create a unique document/file for each chapter. If you want chapters to have a different first page layout/design (like most normal books), then you have to create two documents/files for each chapter. After that, you use a separate "BookPlus" utility (included with the software) to string all those documents/files together, then number the pages, build a table of contents, etc. It's a very awkward process if you're trying to create a tradtional text-based book with front matter, multiple chapters, and back matter.

 

The PDF export is standard X-1a with no apparent way to apply custom settings or profiles that may be recommended by a specific printer/press.  All TrueType fonts are automatically subsetted, Type1 fonts are not supported, and it's unclear how OpenType fonts are converted/embedded (though the document I created with OpenType fonts seemed to have nice typography and no reflows).  Colors are automatically converted to CMYK and preserved (desirable sometimes, but not always), and compatibility is set to 1.3 (resulting in a larger PDF file than necessary).  If/how encapsulated PostScript is supported and handled is unclear.  So all in all, several things that no one else would care about (but that really matter to self-publishers) are either not provided or involve more work than they should.

 

Aside from that, this product seems to be everything it claims. It is superior to MS Publisher in almost every way, and does have some advanced typography, graphic design, and color management capabilities that you won't find until you get in the Adobe CreativeSuite family (yet this is much easier to learn and use -- and obviously more affordable). Actually, I enjoyed working with the product -- laying out content on pages was easy and the results were impressive considering the price.

 

Bottom line, if I were using an MS product like Word or PowerPoint or Publisher to do children's books, graphic novels, or poetry right now, then I'd consider trying this out -- it's reasonably priced and better than those MS tools for that kind of publication.  But for a text-based book that has a multi-chapter structure and traditional book page set-ups, the process of "building" the book was just too awkward from my perspective.

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5. May 30, 2009 9:44 PM in response to: VintageReader
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

Does the program actually let you import PDFs imported from other applications and then work on/improve the PDFs? So, if I had a PDF that was done from a Word Perfect file and then I wanted to insert a picture in it, could I open the PDF in PagePlus and do so?

 

Yes, sort of.  It will import any 1.3 compatible or earlier PDF, and any PDF/X-1a -- later compatibilities and other preset formats will generally import, but not necessarily with total accuracy and ease of repurposing.  The ability to work on and improve short-form documents is pretty good -- for instance, I had some seminar/course brochures that I threw together a fews back in Publisher and then print/distilled to PDF/X-1a for commercial print.  It imported those cleanly, and I was able to work on all the text and graphics elements -- and quickly/easily improve colors and the typography.  A long-form document like a book is another matter, however, because if you edit a page and need the content to reflow to/from later pages, it's a bit of a manual chore to do it.

 

Supposedly you can have endnotes in the later version of PagePlus, but I'm wondering if it can produce one set of endnotes if the chapters are separate (or if you have to have the endnotes at the end of each chapter)? Perhaps you have to manually set the endnote numbers at the start of each chapter to continue on from the previous chapter? (I have to have endnote capability for the projects I am working on.)

 

Not really.  As I said in my review, every chapter requires its own saved document (or two), and those have to be assembled together by a utility.  So you can easily place footnotes on a page, or endnotes at the end of a chapter, but it would be a manual task to put them in their own section at the back of the book.

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7. May 31, 2009 10:03 PM in response to: VintageReader
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

You're welcome (and I always appreciate "helpful" votes).

 

On endnotes, no, I don't think you're missing anything.  I use WordPerfect to write manuscripts with endnotes, build the endnotes section as a separate layout/file (same as with the index), print/distill to PDF, and then combine those PDFs with the main book block PDF using Adobe Acrobat.

 

On color covers, I've not used Scribus, but covers are really fairly simple to get right -- not nearly as many things can go wrong at the RIP as can with a book block PDF.  So I think either product could do the job adequately, though PagePlus would likely make the typography in the back cover text look better.  Digital presses use CMYK toner or dry ink, and don't really do PMS colors.  Producing a cover through CS that has very nice color is not difficult, but producing one that has perfect color is.  So most people are pleasantly surprised when they see their final product, but some are disappointed and may need multiple proofs to tweak things to their satisfaction (which at some point becomes meaningless since Amazon's fulfillment centers have more than one book press make/model, and it's nearly impossible that they'd all calibrate precisely the same at all times).

 

On the third question, I cannot say for sure since I didn't go that far (i.e., submitting a book to CS that was laid out using PagePlus).  As I said, some things I tried imported cleanly, some less-so -- and any changes that cause a long-form document (like a book) to reflow are going to involve some manual fixing (but I'd imagine that's true no matter what import/layout tool was used).  I certainly believe that PagePlus can do more in that respect than anything else in the same price range.

 

As I said intially, it's a decent tool (better than MS Publisher) -- but not what they build it up to be for book page layouts.

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8. Mar 18, 2010 10:50 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

I am replying to a post made in May in 2009 and things have probably been corrected later, but here are my thoughts on the quoted information (plus 2 new questions):

 

A few key highlights:  It does support mirrored pages, but it doesn't  support different running headers for sections/chapters, nor does it  support a different first page header for a section/chapter (even Word  or WordPerfect can do those things). What's required is that you create a  unique document/file for each chapter. If you want chapters to have a  different first page layout/design (like most normal books), then you  have to create two documents/files for each chapter.

 

 

To be able to have different headers, footers, styles etc in PagePlus, you just create different Master Pages. Then you can assign any master page on a document to any page you like. It's a big time saver and will make the book look very professional.

 

Now my question: I have a publication in Letter size, made with PagePlusX4, but cannot find the Letter size in the list of trim sizes in CreateSpace. Is it possible at all, or will I have to resize my book?

 

And another question: my publication is a User Guide for software. There are many screenshots in the book. Screenshots are always 96 dpi. Making them 300 dpi will make the printed dimensions of the images much smaller. A third of the original size. For images of the toolbars that is too small.

 

Will I be able to upload my book at all, leaving those 96 dpi screenshots inside?  Or does anyone know of a method to turn 96 dpi screenshots into 300 dpi and sstill keep the same dimensions?

 

Thanks in advance for all the help you can give me.

 

Loes

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9. Mar 18, 2010 11:51 AM in response to: Loes
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

Regarding the Master pages comment, thanks for posting the update.  That info was provided later (after the product review was published) and I made note of it in another thread somewhere (forgot about this one).  It was a case of me not being thoroughly familiar with the features of the product, and the user guide covering that in another section (for making folded booklets on your desktop, I think, which I wasn't doing).  I still think it's an awkward product for a lengthy, multi-chapter, text-based book -- but I use it all the time for visual promo pieces (I like it much better than MS Publisher).

 

CS does not offer an 8.5x11 trim size -- you'll need to change the size of your page layout to match a trim size that CS does offer (e.g., 8x10).

 

As for screen shots, I've posted some info on that in other threads.  You might want to read those, and then follow-up if you have more questions:

 

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/message/19142#19142

 

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/message/57054#57054

 

Hope that helps.

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10. Mar 19, 2010 6:37 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

Yes, that certainly helps! Thanks.

 

Meanwhile I received the printed Booklets back from the print shop. Those printed booklets will be used as advertising material for the real book to be published via CreateSpace.

I made the booklets with Serif PagePlus, using the exact same 96 dpi images which go into the bigger book, and they look perfect in the printed booklets. So if CreateSpace will give me tons of warnings about the 96 dpi images, but will accept the PDF anyhow, I am a happy camper.

 

Thanks again.

 

Loes

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Sep 5, 2009
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11. Mar 19, 2010 7:08 AM in response to: Loes
Re: Has anybody used Serif PagePlus for interiors? Or SoftMaker's TextMaker?

I've been doing digital art since before Photoshop 4 (I can't remember what software I had then.)  300 dpi is a good, safe number for CS.  Because CS will replace defective books, they reject things that might cause problems--what they don't want to do, is replace books as defective that aren't. So fuzzy or pixilated images are off the table for them. The actual minimum dpi for a given image at which it still looks good, is going to vary from image to image; and that depends on the quality of the original image, the subject matter, the visual complexity, etc.

 

While your images may have looked good printed at a local print shop (you didn't say if they were screened and at what lpi, or what printing process was used), that does not guarantee that they will look good from CS. Years ago, I was having a serious problem with moirés. As I started running tests, I ran out of one brand of paper, when I put a different paper in, the problem almost disappeared. From awful to almost acceptable changing paper. I found similar differences going from one printer to another. 

 

You might get CS to accept your images and they might work well.  And, I hope that is the case.  If CS gets more experience knowing how far their submission guidelines can be pushed with a successful output, the more flexible they will be.  But, if they reject your PDF, I hope this gives you some idea why.  Because the upload is free, it is certainly worth trying.

 

Walton

 

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