Desktop publishing woes

Desktop publishing refers to computer programs that allow you to create works with both text and graphics in the same file. I never got into the Mac and Apple world, so my experience is only with PC programs such as Microsoft Word, which has always done well with text, but is limited when incorporating graphics. Programs such as Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign pick up the gap between programs that specialize in words and those that specialize in pictures.

My go-to program in the past has been Microsoft Publisher. When it originally came out thirty years ago, it emphasized the ability to take large Word files and merge them into larger book-length files and then convert them to formats that were used by commercial printers, such as PDFs. Today one can create a PDF file directly from within the Microsoft Word program. If one does not need sophisticated graphics for a book, therefore, one does not necessarily need a desktop publishing program.

I am putting this to a test with the 1400-page, two-volume Babson genealogy. The direct Word to PDF conversion does work, but Word can be temperamental, especially with large files, and I’ve had some problems with the PDF version coming out slightly different than the Word version, which is definitely not good when one has already indexed the book from Word.

So I decided to try my trusty Publisher. The only problem: the 2017 version of the program has changed since the last version I used, probably in 2006. When I poured the Word file into the Publisher pages, the footnotes disappeared! Undoubtedly, there is a setting that I have to find, but I don’t have the time to find it right now.

Assuming that you want to eventually publish your work, you need to start familiarizing yourself with the technology now...

I tried another tack with Adobe InDesign, a program I have as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, but have yet to begin to learn. The file did retain the footnotes this time, but lost the font sizes. When I have the time, I will eventually figure it all out, but it seems for the present project, I will be sticking with the direct Word to PDF conversion – carefully proofed for conversion bugs.

What does this tale have to do with your genealogy? Assuming that you want to eventually publish your work, you need to start familiarizing yourself with the technology now and keep up with whatever comes along in the future. Another skill to add to research, methodology, and Register style!

Alicia Crane Williams

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.View all posts by Alicia Crane Williams