Using Microsoft Word for Design and Desktop Publishing

Enable text boxes to use word for page layout

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The powerful word processor Microsoft Word is found in most offices, but it isn't intended to be a page layout program like Microsoft Publisher. However, it can be used to create some simple publications that would normally be generated using page layout programs. For some users, Word may be the only desktop publishing tool they need, or it may serve as a substitute for the budget-minded. 

Because Word is designed primarily for text-focused documents, it can be used for office forms that consist primarily of text, such as fax sheets, simple flyers, and employee manuals. Graphics can be added to the text for simple flyers. Many businesses require that their everyday forms such as letterhead, fax sheets, and internal and external forms be in the Word .doc format. An employee sets them up and runs them on an office printer as needed.

That may be fine until you want to set up something as complicated as a newsletter, which has columns, text boxes, borders, and colors. To go beyond the basic 8.5 by 11-inch plain-text format, it is necessary to set up Word so you can work with text boxes.

Preparing a Word Document for Text Boxes

  1. Open a new document that is the same size as the paper you plan to print your newsletter on. This may be letter, or legal-size or 17 by 11 inches if your printer can print that large a sheet of paper.
  2. Select the View tab and check the Gridlines check box. The grid is nonprinting and for positioning only. Adjust the margins if needed.
  3. Also on the View tab, check the checkbox next to Ruler to display rulers along the top and size of the document.
  4. Select Print Layout view from the View tab.

Making a Text Box

  1. Go to the Insert tab and click Text Box.
  2. Select Draw Text Box, which turns the pointer into a crosshair. Drag with the pointer to draw the text box on the document.
  3. Delete the border from the text box if you don't want it to print. Select the border and click the Drawing Tools Format tab. Select Shape Outline > No Outline.
  4. Add a background tint to the text box if you want one. Select the border of the text box, Select the Drawing Tools Format tab and pick Shape Fill. Select a color.

Repeat the process for as many text boxes as you need on the page. If the text boxes are the same size, just copy and paste for additional boxes.

Enter Text Into the Text Box

  1. Select the text box and enter the information that prints there. 
  2. Format the text just as you would any Word text. Select the font, color, size and any attributes.

Click outside the text boxes to place an image as you normally would. Change the picture's text wrap setting to Square, then resize and reposition it.

Tips for Embellishing a Word Document

  • GRADIENTS — To add a gradient to a text box (rather than a solid tint), select the outside border of the box and then select Drawing Tools Format tab > Shape Fill. Choose a color, select Shape Fill again and select Gradient. Choose a light direction in the Light Variations section.
  • DROP SHADOWS — Go to Home > Text Effects and Typography > Shadow > Shadow Options and select the options that give you the drop shadow effect you want.
  • LINKED TEXT BOXES — Link text boxes so text flows from one to another when you resize them. Select the first text box and go to the Drawing Tools Format tab. Select the Create Link button and then click the second text box. 

Disadvantages of Word for Desktop Publishing

  • Microsoft Word is not the place to create logos or other graphics. The compatibility with other programs isn't good, and the print quality is poor compared to using software designed for this purpose.
  • Using Microsoft Word to format a document takes longer than using a page layout program because you are working around the limitations of the word processing software.