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By Paul D. Warner

Most of the programs that I review are sent to me by their developers. Publisher is not one of those. It came to my attention as a result of comments made by colleagues. They were so enthusiastic that I became intrigued. Well folks, reviewing programs is generally a chore; not in this case.

Publisher allows users to design their own marketing materials without the expense of using ad agencies or professional designers. Truly, it is the desk-top publishing program for the inexperienced user. The professional designer may also want to use this program because of its operation ease. This ease of operation, however, is offset by some loss of flexibility.

Publisher's ease of use results from its extensive use of PageWizards, which lead you through the entire process, and an extensive library of forms. The PageWizards manipulate the forms thereby simplifying the operation. Microsoft incorporated an extensive help system keyed to the function being performed. The on-line help is so extensive that it replaces the usual technical manual. Yes, there is a manual, but its primary purpose is to show you how to develop good-looking documents, not how to use the package. The manual contains extensive suggestions and information on where to obtain additional materials that can be used in the documents. The manual contains pictures of the clip art, fonts, etc. which are contained on the CD-ROM.

The PageWizards

When you open Publisher you are greeted by the usual Microsoft application desktop with menu bars across the top and down the left side of the work area. The menu bar across the top is the one with which we are familiar. The bar on the left side of the desktop is unique to Publisher. It contains buttons for--

* text insertion;

* picture insertion;

* table development;

* triggering word art for text manipulation (see below for description);

* inserting calendars, ads, coupons, or logos; and

* inserting clip art from Publisher and other files, and drawings.

An explanation appears for each item whenever it is touched by the cursor. Shortly after the desktop appears, so does the PageWizard. It can also be triggered by selecting "Create New Publication" from the file menu. Sixteen types of publications are presented including--

* newsletters,

* flyers,

* brochures,

* letterheads, and

* forms.

Double clicking on one of these brings up a style selection in graphics format. Each style is accompanied by a brief description (e.g., an easy to use, elegant style). Once the specific style is selected, the PageWizard asks a series of questions--the answers to which may result in graphical responses from Publisher. The answers to the questions build and display the publication. The following are examples from the newsletter selection:

* How many columns do you want (buttons are presented for 1 to 4)? When you select the desired number the sample layout changes.

* How many stories do you want on the first page (buttons are presented for 1 to 3)? Again, when you select the desired number the sample layout changes.

* What title do you want? At this point, you type in the publication's title.
Publisher advises you that you can change the title whenever you want to.

* Do you want a table of contents?

* Next, it gives you the option of entering the date, volume, and issue data.

* The last set of options include--

* the number of pages (can be changed later),

* mailing label on the back,

* printing on both sides, and

* at last, the option to create the document.

You do not have to use the PageWizard; you can design everything from scratch.

Working with the Created Document

The PageWizard creation process actually generates a completed document which contains sample text in Latin and graphics. This allows you to print out a sample of the document so that you can see what it will look like before you do any work on it. If you are satisfied, you can replace the sample text and graphics with your own.

Publisher uses the pasteboard approach where every item on a page can be dragged off onto the pasteboard to be left for later or worked on. In order to provide for this, each item on the document must be contained in a frame.

The text material can be developed in Publisher or in Microsoft Word for Windows 95. Word can be used directly with Publisher. All that you have to do is to press the right key on the mouse, which brings up a menu with the option to "edit the story in Microsoft Word." Selecting this option transfers you into Word. Word contains a similar option, in the File menu, which allows you to seamlessly return to Publisher.


Publisher contains the following "galleries" which greatly simplify the task of generating various types of documents and incorporating graphics:

* Publications

* Words

* Pictures

* Borders

Publications. The publications gallery contains the formatted documents used in the operation which was described above. Included are--

* newsletters and brochures;

* business letterheads, business cards, and envelopes;

* forms;

* statements, time billing, expense reports, and fax sheets;

* banners, cards, invitations, flyers, and signs;

* resumes; and

* labels.

Words. There are 60 TrueType fonts which can be formatted in numerous ways by using Publisher's WordArt capabilities. For example, you can put white text on a black or colored background, pour text into a shape, add shadows to letters, or twist and turn text in a variety of ways. Used sparingly, WordArt's capabilities can be used to enhance the appearance of the document.

Pictures. The clip art gallery contains over 100 items in 20 categories. It also contains four sets of picture fonts. Additional clip art can be added and, if you are an artist, Publisher links automatically to Microsoft Drawing where
you can develop your own artwork.
Publisher allows you to create your
own categories and rearrange the
clip art.

Picture fonts are unique in that they are actually text and, therefore, have all of the characteristics of text (e.g., they can be italicized, made bold).

Borders. Publisher includes a collection of over 150 borders that can be added to any picture, text, or rectangular shape created by the shape tool. The borders are organized into 10 categories to simplify access.

Layout Checker

Publisher can help find glitches in the layout which will prevent objects from printing. The layout checker looks for text frames so full of text that you can't see them, empty frames, and hidden or covered frames. It offers suggestions for fixing problems. Layout checker is especially useful if the publication is to be printed by a professional printing service.

Outside Printing

Most outside printing services work with files that are in the PostScript format, the industry standard. The use of PostScript eliminates the need for the printer to have copies of the various printer drivers used in the program.

The File Menu contains additional selections for this purpose: outside print setup and print to outside printer. *

Paul D. Warner PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at Hofstra University and technology editor of The CPA Journal.

Publisher is the product of--

Microsoft Corporation

One Microsoft Way

Redmond WA 98052-6399

(206) 882-8080

Fax (206) 93MSFAX

Requirements: Windows 95 with 8 MB of RAM or Windows NT 3.5.1 with 16 MB of RAM; 32 MB of hard-disk space; a CD-ROM drive (a diskette version is available, but lacks much of the clip art); a VGA monitor (Super VGA is preferable).


Paul D. Warner, PhD, CPA

Hofstra University

L. Murphy Smith, DBA, CPA

Texas A&M University

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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