Sunday, October 01, 2006

Looking for a Low Cost Solution

I would highly recommend iWork/Pages to anyone who is looking for low-cost software to achieve professional publishing results on a level similar to what is normally done on the mainstay DTP programmes, such as Quark and Adobe InDesign which cost up to 10 times more.

A year ago I started planning a magazine for the English speaking community in Normandy. I had basic training in Quark, Acrobat and a few other computer design software. The main stumbling block was that I had very limited budget. I posted my problem on various internet forums, and someone on the MacUser Magazine site recommended Pages/iWork. I looked at it and thought that it might just fit my requirements.

iWork suite from Apple Mac is a relatively new and inexpensive suite of software for word processing and desk-top publishing. It retails for 79€/$ or 55£ and includes Pages and Keynote (a presentation programme.) Quark Express full price, for example, is $749. As Apple's own introduction says:

iWork ’06 features two powerful applications for creating everything from school newsletters to business presentations. With Pages 2, you can quickly create a wide variety of stunning documents. With Keynote 3, you can produce cinema-quality presentations, storyboards, and more. iWork ’06 lets you express yourself with style.

While it is not as easy as it sounds, I think anyone with basic computer knowledge can relatively quickly train themselves to use Pages and then master its features to create a wide variety of documents, from business cards and flyers to brochures and magazines. The user's manual is about 200 pages long, but the Help and the templates included with iWork provide easy to follow pointers and examples of work. It took me about two weeks to go through the manual, and another two months to create the magazine dummy from scratch. I have now produced five issues of the magazine, The Rendezvous (, and a number of brochures, pamphlets and cards.

I know that many thousands of iWork users look for solutions to their particular projects, so, because I use Pages every day I thought I should share my own experience with others in the form of a blog. This seems to me an easier way of organising the many notes I have scribbled down, mostly for myself, than posting them on various forums.

I do not intend to write about anything I haven't tried myself, so all the tips and solutions, with their limitations and problems encountered, are proven by my own experience.

1 comment:

  1. Well Done.
    I am a graphic designer, living in Normandy and have seen your magazine from the start. Having used Quark Xpress for the last seventeen! years, I am amazed you managed to get it looking this good.
    I can pick holes but, hey, there must be a future without Quark holding us to ransom. Well done!
    We enjoy reading it
    Corey koch


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